What did you think of this movie?
Well this is apparently the 2nd version of Ghost in the Shell. The original was shot in 1995 before all the great CGI that is possible nowadays. Both are based off the manga comic book "Ghost in the Shell". The 1995 film is in comic book in Japanese with a stronger rating than the Scarlett version. The original film has an AI that is trying to control humanity via its network that controls other cyborgs. In the 2017 version, we have the semi-human cyborgs realizing they were manipulated by a robotic corporation, so not as scary as an AI taking over humanity. It's kind of sad that great films made in Japan kind of die in American cinema with movie goers used to English only films and hating subtitles. The American public was more tolerant back in the 50s and 60s for this type of film.
I think the movie is fairly sophisticated with multiple layers. Each of these layers is the defining question, where does humanity start and AI take over? Is it when you have most of your body and a few cyborg parts or all the way down to only your brain with a non-feeling body? Do you live if you upload your consciousness to AI to live in essence forever?
Another interesting twists is the sub-plot underneath, which eventually surfaces with the climax of the film. These are nicely done and you suspect nothing in the ads, which is great. I like going into a film not knowing hidden elements that really drive the plot to full circle.
What do you think of the movie using non-Asian actors?
There is definitely an issue with this. Especially the final scene kind of doesn't make sense due to using Scarlett vs. a Japanese actress. The producers definitely want to appeal to a wide audience to make sales. It really depends how well the Japanese audience accept's Scarlett's performance overlooking the non-Japanese actress appearance. I think for the most part this works as Scarlett as Major is really a great actress. An interview on the street, thought there was no issue, so likely no impact to sales in Japan.
If you compare to say "The Great Wall", with Matt Damon, it was kind of offensive. In that film, the villains were all American actors and the good guys with little flaws were all Chinese. That film felt offensive to a European American audience for scapegoating and offensive to Chinese Americans having Matt Damon save the Great Wall, which is silly. I think that the Ghost in the Shell does a better job, but they could have cast say Lucy Liu, who is Asian but not Japanese. Of course, we will see as the reviews come in for this film. I didn't even bother reviewing the Great Wall because it came across as propaganda right off the bat, but would you expect anything else from a Communist regime?
They have this silicone suit that the actress used to assume the robotic skin. The suit has magnets to hold the sections of the suit down. It is made smaller than the person wearing it, so you really need to pull the actress into all the seams of the suit. One of the challenges of the suit is that it will take on the shape of other objects like a table you lay it down on. So you have to hang it on a mannequin when not being used in the filming. There are no seams visible as you just pull the suit over your head. So likely this was a bit.
Another cool feature was they designed full skeleton of the actress to create the initial scene of her with a robotic shell and a brain before the AI skin was added.
The one scene I would have improved would been the apartment scene. There could have been photos of her daughter to show the AI process of Major had been not as close to who she originally was. Of course, this would have opened up more cans of worms of white washing.
Have you thought of doing sci-fi art like Ghost in the Shell?
I think Ghost in the Shell would be a great art piece to put as a painting. One take I have looked at is the Matrix. In this work I used Morpheus as the symbol in the fight against AI instead of Neo, as Morpheus is more fatherly like. In my work the matrix code is actually 71398 with dream character in Mandarin. The 71398 is the code name of the Chinese military hacking group responsible for 70-90% of the world's stealing of Western patents to keep constantly growing via theft, the basic tenet of Communism.