I’m no purist.
Not really, anyway.
Okay maybe sometimes I am a bit of a purist.
Anyway, on that note, look—it’s the final Ghost In The Shell trailer:
Now, very generously leaving aside all the whit—…
"Hey can I copy your homework?"— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) January 1, 2017
"Yeah but don't make it too obvious" pic.twitter.com/juBURC5Kp6
Apart from the source material, the movie’s pedigree is thus:
Directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman).
Adapted by Jonathan Herman — who was half of the screenwriting duo behind Straight Outta Compton and Jamie Moss — who wrote Street Kings, a forgettable, mid-budget Keanu Reeves flick from the late 2000’s.
Judging just by that, Ghost In The Shell is a bit of a wild card: it could be good, it could be tripe.
Now, I stand by that. It could be good, it could be tripe. What seems more and more apparent with each new bit of promotional material released, however, is that this movie will be more of a riff off the original property, rather than a straighter remake. Movie trailers do not tell the full story, of course, and sometimes they tell a wildly misleading one; nevertheless all signs do seem to point towards a far more generic cyber-punk-lite, amnesiac-badass-style story, instead of the nuanced, disconcerting tale being told in the originals. This may be on purpose, or it it may not be.
Now, I’m sure he won’t mind me doing this, but our esteemed commenter Vermillion, made an eloquent critique of that first trailer a few months ago, which very much still applies here. Take it away, Vermillion:
The “secret past” nonsense. The whole thing about Motoko’s journey was that it was 90% internal. She wasn’t some special new creation; yes, she was a god-level hacker with near perfect fighting abilities, but so was Greater Hemsworth in Blackhat. Her body was an advanced model, sure, but not something unique in and of itself. That is kinda the point again: her experience is only unique in that hers is the one the audience goes through. Even the plot of the Oshii movie started as a regular case she was working on, only to then become personal. The rumbling of secret pasts she can’t remember and owing a mysterious someone for saving her life that practically sings evil conspiracy is 21st Century Hero’s Journey Template #5.
I will give them this: depending on how they play out the “missing memories” stuff, it could fall in line with the themes of the work. The whole point of the title is that if you define yourself, your identity as your memories and experiences, what does it mean to have them as easily manipulated as a file on a computer? You can switch bodies at a whim; you can be literally any form, any race, any gender. Someone can hack your brain and change who you are fundamentally. Someone can hack your body and make it do things you believe you would never do. How would that affect a person? How would that affect someone whose job it is to do those things to other people, even in the name of “Public Security”? But that’s some heady shit that already took one movie two hours to even jump into, and at least two more movies, two TV series with multiple seasons, and more spinoff material than you can shake a stick at to even begin to explore.
Ghost In The Shell is released in the United States March 31st; in much of Europe the day before that.