Eppler: "Ghost" controversy is more interesting than movie

Eppler: "Ghost" controversy is more interesting than movie

"Ghost in the Shell" is a Hollywood live-action adaptation of a highly influential Japanese anime property with themes that inspired big movies from "The Matrix" to "Avatar." And because of that, this new movie feels dated at best and stale at worst.

In the future, humans and robots have become so integrated that people getting high tech upgrades is kinda like plastic surgery now. Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a robot warrior with a transplanted human brain designed by a major corporation to fight terrorism. And she''s good at at.

When she tracks down a dangerous hacker, she gets some important information. That sends Major on a quest to find out who she was as a human and uncover lies she's been told. It's all pretty boring, actually. None of what happens in the story is that interesting or surprising and the movie tries to make up for that with plenty of PG-13 shoot-outs and clumsy action sequences with an over abundance of slow motion.

The casting of Johansson as this iconic Japanese character is obviously problematic with the studio execs figuring they needed a big name to headline the thing. And right now, there aren't any English-speaking Japanese actresses who fit the bill. You could start to fix that problem by picking one for this huge movie, but execs aren't known for their bravery.

The thing is, racial considerations aside, Johansson is good in the role. Her recent tech-centric parts in "Under the Skin," "Lucy" and "Her" have shown her to be an actress who can deliver warmth under the ice-cold robotic exterior. 

"Ghost in the Shell" looks cool, and it's an interesting case study in Hollywood Westernizing an Eastern product. Otherwise, it's a bit of a snooze.
 

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