Ghost In The Shell" fan event last Friday, 17 March 2017, Red Dot Diva had the chance to watch a 14-minute sneak peek of the live action movie in 3D.
Despite the furore over the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major (which is based on Motoko Kusanagi in the manga by Masamune Shirow) and "whitewashing" of the popular franchise, the film looks visually stunning. It took just a few minutes for Red Dot Diva to feel immersed in the near-future cybernetic world, and she wished it was a full movie screening instead.
"Ghost In The Shell" is a story about a cybernetic anti-terrorist field commander Major, who is determined on going after a hacker called The Puppet Master. There may be a larger purpose to The Puppet Master's plans to take control of Hanka Corporation's artificial intelligence programs, and Major begins to uncover her past and question about her own existence.
For the live action movie, instead of The Puppet Master, the main enemy is cyborg ghost-hacker named Kuze (Michael Pitts). Or rather, Kuze will a mix of the two anime characters in the upcoming film directed by Rupert Sanders.
( WARNING : SPOILERS AHEAD )
The 14-minute preview begins with Major poised on a roof of a tall building in a dense cyber-punk futuristic city with gleaming Japanese-like hologram ads that consist of swimming koi and coy geishas. It was reminiscent of the city backdrop in "Blade Runner", which the original "Ghost in the Shell" franchise was inspired by.
This was followed by flashback scenes showing the creation and shelling of cyborg Major, accompanied by the haunting chant-like theme song by Kenji Kawai. Fans of HBO's "Westworld" will find this particular sequence rather familiar, but in "Ghost In The Shell", the process is depicted even more beautifully and in more detail.
When Major awakes seemingly gasping for breath, she is greeted by the doctor in-charge of the cyborg-making process, Dr. Ouellet (Juliet Binoche), who tells her that she is now in a new body. She later exits the room and in cautious tones, discusses about the success of Major's cybernetic procedures with a man who has funded the project. There is definitely more about this than the viewers are currently aware of.
Cut to Major back at the rooftop. She is now a member of a counter-terrorist task force called Section 9, and the team is on a mission who are monitoring a possible assassination attempt on the President of the African Federation who is having a meeting in the same building.
The group are being served by a bunch of the creepiest robotic geishas ever. One of them was suddenly hacked and turns on one of the men who works at Hanka Corporation. Red Dot Diva thought this segment was the most memorable scene of the entire preview. Jeez, those geishas are stuff of nightmares!
In the meantime, Major has decided to dive right into the fray, disobeying her orders from Chief Daisuke. She is in her skin tight, flesh-coloured body suit which gives her "thermo-optic camouflage". As chaos and a gun fight ensures after the robotic geisha attack, in comes Major, crashing through in slow motion, shards of glass shattering all around. Fans would have already seen this part in the movie's trailer.
Most of the sequences from the short preview followed the 1995 film directed by Mamoru Oshii very closely, but the scenes were more heightened. Out of curiousity, Red Dot Diva watched the 1995 anime after the fan event, and she thought a main reason why the live action movie seemed visibly energetic was because Major's demeanor in the upcoming movie was definitely more human than the one in the animated version. In the anime, Major did not seem to show any kind of emotion and spoke in a flat robotic tone. Red Dot Diva thought Scarlett Johansson's take on Major was interesting enough, since she is now intrigued to find out more about Major's personal journey. Will this be the same as the one in the 1995 film?
In summary: this bears repeating, Red Dot Diva thinks the visuals are simply Stunning! WETA (yep, the fabulous folks who were involved with the Lord of the Rings movies) did a fantastic job with props and costumes, including Major's sleek futuristic bodysuit, the cyborg skeleton amd those cool, creepy geisha bots. Just that geishabot gone crazy segment and watching the cyberpunk landscape come to life are already worth the price of an admission ticket.
"Ghost In The Shell" opens at theatres islandwide on 30 March 2017. If you are not one of those involved with protests concerning the "whitewashing" controversy, then go watch the movie. Red Dot Diva has a feeling a scifi/ cyberpunk/ "Ghost In The Shell" fan who enjoys a more Westernized adaptation will enjoy most or all of it.
"GHOST IN THE SHELL" CONTEST
Do the following to get a chance to win a "Ghost In The Shell" giant movie poster!
1. Follow Red Dot Diva on Facebook or Twitter. (Please put your post or profile as public so that Diva is able to verify this.)
2. Tag 2 friends in your comment or post.
3. In less than 25 words, say why you want to watch the "Ghost In The Shell" live action movie.
For Singapore residents only.
Winner must be email Red Dot Diva his/ her name and mobile number.
Winner must be able to collect prize at Shaw Centre during weekday work hours.
Contest ends 26 March 2017, 6PM Singapore time.