Well… I enjoyed the credits.
Rupert Sanders’ remake of Mamoru Oshii’s groundbreaking anime Ghost in the Shell is completely fine. There’s nothing wrong with it, nor nothing particularly stand out. It’s a perfectly acceptable adaptation that doesn’t hit the notes of the original in impact or resonance, but does make for an entertaining, albeit spoon-fed experience.
As a fan of the original and one that understands the limitations of such East to West adaptations, I was never expecting enlightenment on screen when they announced this one, but instead moved forward to release day with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. The original anime perfectly balances discussion on societies obsession with technology and the nature of identity, and it does that subtly, hidden within the narrative to be discovered as you fall deeper into the story. The remake of Ghost in the Shell would have its success based on whether it was equally able to launch a similar themes. Unfortunately, Sanders takes his audience for granted. The script is laden with repeated reference of the world’s obsession with tech and with that our loss of identity, and because of that the film has no deeper meaning. It’s all laid out for all to see, not to be found or discovered or worked out, but one that is explained to you, with the impact and weight of the message all but lost.
Films like Arrival and Dunkirk have shown that you don’t need to treat the audience like idiots. Character drives and plot arcs don’t need to be explained at every turn, but instead give us the tools to build our own meaning and understanding of the film. People may have different opinions of what the film stands for, and that is by no means a problem, but instead starts a discussion that films like Ghost in the Shell should be pushing. Instead, you have a perfectly watchable, attractive film on the surface, that has had its soul taken away.