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“Ghost in the Shell” is full of dazzling images that suggest a rich, profound narrative the film is never able to achieve. A young woman brutally rips the hatch off a tank. Her skin and bones crack, revealing mechanical sinew underneath her human exterior. Holographic advertisements the size of skyscrapers glitter across the city’s landscape. Surgeons wear uniforms the color of fresh blood. A robot fashioned in the form of a geisha bends her appendages, crawling up the wall like a frightened spider. These visual delights may provoke momentary awe but they have little impact.
Director Rupert Sanders and his collaborators aren’t married to recreating the influential manga or its 1995 anime adaptation wholesale. This isn’t inherently a problem. But how they choose to change this material is. They take the basic skeleton of the story and some its tantalizing imagery, but strip them of their power.
“Ghost in the Shell” takes place in a future in which cybernetic enhancement isn’t just routine but expected. Characters outfit themselves with tech that makes alcohol poisoning a thing of the past, gives them great abilities, and allows them to survive harrowing accidents that would have previously left them dead. The latter is the case for Major Mira ( Scarlett Johansson ). She was rescued in the wake of an attack on a refugee boat that left her so gravely injured that the government-funded Hanka Industries saves her by placing her mind into a completely artificial body. As characters repeat ad nauseam, she’s the first of her kind. The Major, as she’s routinely referred to, is the perfect blend of the organic and the synthetic, man and machine. She has the mind and soul (or “ghost”) of a human woman coupled with the astounding advantages of a machine form. Reborn in this new body, the Major works as an efficient if somewhat reckless agent for Section 9, an ill-defined anti-terrorism division led by Aramaki ( Takeshi Kitano ). But there’s something amiss beyond the Major’s poor understanding of her own humanity and place in the world. She’s having “glitches,” visual and auditory hallucinations, with increasing regularity, suggesting that her superiors are lying to her. Once the terrorist that Section 9 is hunting down, Kuze (a bored Michael Pitt ), warns her not to trust Hanka Industries, the Major searches for the truth behind her existence.
“Ghost in the Shell” jettisons the complex preoccupations of the source material in order to traffic in a distinctly American story about heroic individualism. There’s also an interest in exploring corporate resistance, which is a bit hypocritical considering the behemoth behind this film, and that the narrative rests these problems on individuals rather than dissecting the systematic forces that make their actions possible. For this approach to the material to work, the characters and the world they inhabit need to feel distinct. Unfortunately, one of the most damning faults of this adaptation is that its world building, while having the appearance of intricacy, proves to be as hollow as the rest of the film upon closer examination.
The visual landscape of “Ghost in the Shell” suggests a host of fascinating questions. What does the chance of being hacked suggest about the quicksilver nature of identity in this world? If you don’t have cybernetic upgrades what does that mean for your life personally and professionally? The team members of Section 9 seem to be diverse—has technology affected the way people relate to their own race and gender? Unfortunately, these questions are only momentarily considered or blithely ignored in order to reiterate just how special the Major is, in case you forgot from the twenty other times characters mention it.
This lack of detailing extends to the characters themselves. The Major spends a considerable amount of time with her Section 9 teammates but I honestly couldn’t name one single personality trait for any of them beyond being dedicated to their work. The only one who gets enough focus to rise above being completely forgettable is Batou ( Pilou Asbæk ). He has a comfortable rapport with the Major that causes her to crack a smile and some occasional jokes, suggesting she has more humanity than she gives herself credit for. As Dr. Ouelet, the Major’s chief creator, Juliette Binoche imbues a warmth and nearly neurotic sense of overprotection that suggests an interesting mother/daughter dynamic. This isn’t enough. The lightning pace of the film means that just when a scene is about to touch a nerve it moves on to the next. The score buzzes and swells with intrigue that the action on-screen doesn’t communicate. Typically, a strong lead performance can make even the most cumbersome film have charm and merit, but Johansson struggles to create a meaningful emotional through line for the Major.
In recent years, Johansson has proven to be a mesmerizing actress who brings an intelligence and fearsome quality to her work. “Ghost in the Shell” is a continuation of the roles she’s excelled at playing in “ Under the Skin ,” “ Her ,” and various turns as super-spy Black Widow in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. It marries her impressive physicality as an action star, emotional vulnerability, and steely determinism. Yet, even she isn’t skilled enough to imbue the Major with the depth necessary for her arc to feel moving and profound. She also can’t sell me on the ridiculous philosophy the film peddles about how memories are inconsequential to human identity; apparently, only our actions matter.
All these issues—poorly thought out moral quandaries, surface level world building, scant character development—come to a head in the film’s queasy racial politics. A dark cloud has hung over “Ghost in the Shell” since Johansson’s casting was announced. The debate over whether her character, who in the source material had the name Motoko Kusanagi, should reflect the racial origins of the manga and subsequent anime films was intelligently explored in an essay for The Verge by Emily Yoshida . No matter where you come down in the debate over this, it becomes hard to ignore when you notice how the most important characters are white or that every time Aramaki speaks Japanese the Major only replies in English. “Ghost in the Shell” makes the troubling decision to use Japanese culture, visual flourishes, and source material but decides that a Japanese actress as the lead would be a step too far. At times, “Ghost in the Shell” is beautiful, even stunning. But these visual pleasures can’t mask the narrative emptiness. Never has there been a film so obsessed with the human soul that proves soulless itself.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images.
Scarlett Johansson as "Major" Motoko Kusanagi
Pilou Asbæk as Batou
Michael Pitt as The Laughing Man
Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki
Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet
Chin Han as Togusa
Lasarus Ratuere as Ishikawa
Tawanda Manyimo as Roma
Yutaka Izumihara as Saito
- Rupert Sanders
Writer (based on the comic 'The Ghost in the Shell' by)
- Masamune Shirow
- William Wheeler
- Lorne Balfe
- Clint Mansell
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‘Ghost in the Shell’: Everything You Need to Know about Hollywood’s Gritty, “Sexy” Adaptation
We visited the New Zealand set while the film was in production and learned about the storyline, how they’ll manage the nudity, what they pulled from the previous animated movies, and so much more.
While a live-action Ghost in the Shell movie has been in development for almost ten years and talked about since the manga and animated movies were first released, I’d argue it’s probably a good thing it’s taken this long to get made. A decade ago, the internet was still a new place for millions around the world, the majority of computer users believed their data was safe and secure, and the world’s biggest corporations had yet to be hacked. But over the past few years, hacking went mainstream, with millions hit by identity theft and almost everyone having to change a password due to some intrusion on their network.
All across the planet, we’ve pushed into a new world where technology is as ubiquitous as oxygen. We have seen tremendous gains in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. We’re quickly moving into the realm of science fiction being normal life. It’s amazing. But it also might be time to start thinking about what this future could mean when the world of Ghost in the Shell isn’t so far-fetched.
For those not familiar with the themes in Ghost in the Shell , it explores what it means to be human. When you can copy your consciousness to another body, when do you stop being human? Is it your body or mind or both that makes you who you are? In addition, in the world of Ghost in the Shell , hackers can plant memories in your head and the recipient can’t tell what’s real or fake. The world of Ghost in the Shell tries to deal with real issues in a technologically advanced world.
Of course you can’t make a big budget Hollywood movie tackling these philosophical issues alone. But when you mix in these themes with a cool story and some kick-ass action, it’s the kind of thought provoking stuff that will hopefully lead to a special film.
As you might already know, the Ghost in the Shell movie follows Scarlett Johansson as The Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out advancements in cyber technology. Loaded with an all-star international cast featuring Pilou Asbæk , Michael Pitt , Juliette Binoche , Kaori Momoi , Rila Fukushima , Chin Han , Danusia Samal , Lasarus Ratuere , Yutaka Izumihara , and Tuwanda Manyimo , the film should be something extremely cool when it opens in theaters March 31, 2017.
Earlier this year, when Ghost in the Shell was filming in New Zealand, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. Over the course of the day we conducted numerous interviews with the producers and cast and I walked away thinking director Rupert Sanders (who helmed Snow White and the Huntsman ) was crafting something that both fans of the source material and people that know nothing about it would enjoy. I really think the time is right for this story to be told and the amazing visuals alone are going to be worth the price of admission.
While I usually do a list of “things to know” when writing up a set visit, for Ghost in the Shell , I’m mixing it up. The main reason is we got such great quotes from all the key people that I wanted to let each person speak for themselves. So if you’d like to know a lot more about what to expect in Ghost in the Shell , I’ve provided some highlights from the set.
One of the things fans have been curious about is which storylines the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie might borrow from. Producer Avi Arad told us:
“We’re not doing Puppetmaster. It’s not Laughing Man. It involves Kuze. The Kuze story. The big thing we are doing here is that we’re not necessarily doing an origins backstory, but we are addressing her sense of self and resolving how she defines herself in terms of memories. That’s one of the main thrusts in the story. Inspired by that episode of Affection in Second Gig. It’s bits and pieces of those mixed together.”
He went on to explain why:
“There are outside villains but they are never the most interesting parts of a movie, especially your first movie. I find that part of the reason we didn’t do Puppetmaster in this movie was we didn’t really feel like we had time to tell that story, and in your first movie the way the characters feel about themselves and the relationship with those people that they care about is usually more than enough story for a movie to handle. So there are villains and they do drive a lot of the story, but they are really there to antagonize her spiritually. The villains in the story are people that are abusing this brave new world. The movie certainly addresses this whole idea of in the future, if you think about everybody’s biggest fear around technology is about getting your identity stolen (which is really just your credit record) as apposed someone hacking your brain could happen here. The more technology gets inside of you and the more it’s woven into your life the more that people can abuse it. So there are characters, both at a criminal level and a governmental level, who are abusing technology and doing scary things. Ghost hacking is a big storyline in the movie and in some ways we take it even further. This idea of if someone could change your memories, what would that do to your sense of self? After you meet that garbageman and you see him in the interrogation room. You’re like ‘that guy’s gone’. You could have a really interesting movie about that guy trying to put his life back together. Being told you don’t have a wife and kids that you thought you did is a big hole.”
One of the things Arad told us that sounded really cool was the way they were lighting the sets. He revealed:
“We’re doing a new process with LED lighting for the movie. Our cinematographer went through Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and picked out 28 color keys and those are programmed into our LED lighting board so that every lighting set up we have is an amalgamation of those 28 colors. So hopefully the palettes feel like the anime.”
On what you might recognize from some of the animated movies, Arad revealed:
“You’ll recognize some things from Ghost in the Shell: Innocence like the geisha bot. A lot of the time when you see futurist movies either it feels very beautiful and removed and clean or you have to go down a grimy, dystopic world. Rupert was chasing something else that was more similar to the source where it felt really tactile and tangible and you had things like cables even though wireless makes more sense. If you look at the original, the guys’ hands break off and type. Even in 1995 the idea that if you talked to a computer you’d type really, really fast didn’t make sense. That’s where we are coming from a lot of the time.”
On how they’re going to keep the Ghost in the Shell movie fresh and not make it like The Matrix , Arad said:
“Fortunately The Matrix really veered into virtual worlds. We’re not going to do the green scrolling data. Rupert’s come up with some really cool alternative approaches to that. We still have the cables in the head. Their stuff was a little more gruesome than Ghost in the Shell . Especially in the anime there was more of a beauty to it. We thought we were going to have to worry about it more than we actually did.”
One of the things that was never fully fleshed out in the animated movies is whether The Major’s memories were real. That’s something the film will explore. Arad told us:
“That’s a big part of it. We’re doing everything we can to make her question herself as aggressively as possible. Based on that one conversation in the elevator about ‘how do I know these are my memories?’ That’s a big question and she’s going to wrestle with that the whole movie. What she’s saying is ‘if I don’t know if these are my real memories, then how do I know I have brain in here?’ When does the malicious demon end?”
The movie was made in New Zealand and most assumed that decision was made primarily as a result of tax incentives. Arad told us that was not the case:
“Weta and tax breaks were big drivers, but we also needed a place where they had really good stages, where they had really good art as an infrastructure. We have three stages here but we have so many sets and we basically make a set and then tear it down and rebuild on top of it. We also just needed a place where people could make all the intricate stuff that Rupert was imaging and designing. I don’t there is any filmmaker in the world that doesn’t work around a budget so currency and the tax credits made New Zealand top of the list, but there are places we could have gone that were cheaper, but we couldn’t have made as good a movie. Our close relationship with Weta really helped drive it and it’s been invaluable. They’ve been really creative partners with us since the first drawing.”
In the animated movies and the manga the Major isn’t afraid to be naked. Arad talked about the use of nudity in the film:
“Rupert wanted to keep it sexy. That’s one of the tricky things about doing futuristic material is the future can get cold really fast. What’s interesting about Ghost in the Shell that all started with the manga was that it’s actually got more relevant in 20 years. The sexuality was something we wanted keep forward. While this (pointing at The Major) is skin tone colour, she’s not actually naked. This is a whole suit she’s wearing. The thermoptic. We’re not actually trying to pretend she’s naked. Some of the stuff she wears in the anime and the manga, when you make a movie things become much more literal. If you’re in a world with someone walking around in a thong, we’re not in a world where that was going to feel natural. So we didn’t do it. But in cases when you’re being born… that’s why they call it the birthday suit. We wanted to be honest to our movie. We’re trying to stick and keep honest to our world. So if someone is going to be naked in the dance club, they’re going to be naked. I don’t know if we’re going to have that kind of nudity in the dancers because, does it make sense for the movie? Scarlett is a brave partner in that regard. We’re not going to see her naked, but we’re also not fleeing from that element. The suit emulates some of the ideas of the panel lines. When you see it the movie you’re not meant to think that that she’s naked. In the anime, when she’s naked, she looks like a person so when you see her bare skin in the movie, with the exception of a few moments when she’s damaged, she looks like a person. If you put her in a body that looks really inhuman that only emotionally isolates her further and that doesn’t feel like the design rules for Ghost in the Shell or for this movie. We weren’t going to have Scarlett or The Major character running around naked in the action scene for a million reasons. It would be strange. It was also cool as there is a vulnerability wearing something like [the thermoptic suit]. You’re still going to feel relatively vulnerable.”
While CGI is great and helps add a lot to movies, Rupert Sanders was adamant that sets be practical and making the movie feel tangible. Arad told us:
“Rupert has been so dogmatic about keeping this movie feeling tangible. That’s why he insisted on almost every set existing. The crew here has been really astounding building every single set and tearing it down and rebuilt.”
On what sequences they might have pulled from the manga or previous animated films, Arad sounded like they lifted a bit from the original animated movie:
“Everything we pulled from the movie is because we thought it was cool. There’s a whole thermoptic sequence with the garbageman. We did that because we thought it was really cool. What was interesting about Ghost in the Shell is that it was never really a predictive future. It was more about a future that was meant to provoke a feeling in the audience and that’s guided design as much as if we were to hire a bunch of engineers and physicists and futurists to predict things. That’s the same kind of philosophy in this movie. There are things here that are more tangible like the cables or the (lack of finger-splitting) hands. Even the cars. In every version of Ghost in the Shell you’d never see a flying car. Everything felt like it had a combustion engine. It was all about making it feel chunkier and more tangible aesthetic and a mix of an overly dense urban area.”
One of the deeper themes of Ghost in the Shell is questioning your humanity and what makes you human. Arad talked about what questions about humanity the film deals with:
Image via Paramount Pictures “Some of the topics in sci-fi that I like the least are ones that suggest that technology will steam-roll us and that we’re quickly losing control of our fate. I think this movie asserts a sense that we can control our humanity. Technically [The Major] is the least human being in the world, but she also cares so much about her humanity. I guess that’s one the important things in the movie is that technology coming into our lives is a dangerous thing in the sense that social media is making people unhappy and all of those things, but those are all self-inflicted. The easiest way to not let technology overrun you is to control it. Turn off your phone. That’s a very simplistic approach. One of the big things in this movie is about the fact you maintain your humanity by choosing to. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy and simple, but it’s a story about people holding onto their humanity. If you were doing a noir movie it would be about people trying to hang on to their morality in an immoral city. So we’re sort of fusing that with all these cops in a really complicated future holding onto their humanity on many levels.”
Even though Scarlett Johansson was incredibly busy filming a major scene in the third act of the film, when she sat down to talk with us she was in a great mood. The first thing we talked about was the way her character, The Major, is having an existential crisis. She told us:
“She’s having an existential crisis for a large portion of this film and asking herself the questions of ‘Who was I? Who am I now? And what will become of me?’ And to stay in that state for this length of time in production has been uniquely challenging. But it’s really rewarding, you know. I like this job, I like doing it. It’s good to be challenged like that.”
On playing a character with a cybernetic body, Johansson talked about the challenges:
Image via Paramount Pictures “You can go deep in one direction and play a very sort of unfeeling kind of mechanical sort of gait and her stride, her mannerisms are cold. But you don’t want to be, of course, shut off from the feeling audience, and also from this character’s inner experience. So you know, you kind of work with varying ways of going too far in different directions. I think one of the most important things about the Major is that she’s got a lot of intention, everything she does is intentional and she’s always like moving forward. Because she doesn’t have those kind of mannerisms and tics that make us, when you see when we’re impatient or nervous or decision making. All these things you don’t really think about and things that you develop for characters to give them a lot of life. She doesn't have that stuff and I think maybe the absence of those mannerisms is what gives her her physical character. She’s very efficient, I would say.”
In the manga and the animated film, the Major isn’t shy about showing off her body. We asked Johansson about the Major’s sexuality and if that was something the film would explore.
“I think she’s very removed from her sexuality. She’s in the midst of an identity crisis, which I think, I guess perhaps some people’s sexuality or an abundance of it or whatever, comes at that time. Like they lose themselves in that because they’re missing other parts of themselves, but I think for her, she doesn’t know who she was. She has such a vague idea, this is how we play it in the story, she has such a murky idea of who she was that how would she even know what she likes or who she likes. She also has no heart. Human heart, anyway. So if you would imagine if that could be related to sensuality or sexuality, that part is also missing for her.”
On how the Major changes in the film from what we’ll see at the beginning, Johansson revealed:
Image via Paramount Pictures “She accepts the experiences that she’s been through and that she didn’t really have an active choice in where she is and instead of kind of fighting that, by accepting that. She becomes a young woman, you know? She goes kind of from being a child-woman to becoming a young woman. And I think part of that transition is accepting who you are, I guess. But really accepting it. It’s a lot to sit on. She’s different when we see her at the end of this film versus the beginning, certainly. It’s kind of a loss of innocence that happens, but the gain is really significant.”
One of the things that excites fans and people familiar with the material is the world of Ghost in the Shell and how cool it could look on a movie screen because it shows a future that’s blends technology with the real world and not some dark future. Johansson agrees. She told us:
“It is a really cool world and I think what’s interesting about it is it’s not, you know, I think we’re very used to the idea of the future in an armageddon context or a post-apocalyptic kind of idea or it’s very stringent, like Spike [Jonze] did with Her . Everything’s kind of digitized and computerized and clean or absence of character. This movie, I think, it’s Rupert’s idea of, he described it to me as cities built on cities and the abundance of waste. It’s a kind of collage of cultures and it’s sort of identity-less in that as a whole melange of different kinds of textures and colors and, it’s really rich. The depth of this movie is amazing. I find that the sets are so incredibly detailed and the thought that goes into each set even in the very sterile sets, like all the Hanka hallway stuff and laboratory stuff. There’s a lot of texture and depth to the way that it’s shot and the way that it’s dressed. Of course the format that they’re shooting in also really adds a lot of texture and depth too. So it’s visually delicious, I think for people. Especially fans of the material will appreciate the look of it a lot, as Rupert’s been very dedicated to making that stuff come to life for people. So, that’s cool. And, from what I’ve seen, I don’t watch a lot of stuff, but from what I’ve seen before, I think Jess [Hall, the cinematographer] is doing with the visuals are beautiful. It’s really photographic and very rich. And I think people will enjoy that part of it.”
Of course when you adapt popular source material you’ll always have to deal with some fans that will be upset if you change anything. Johansson talked about the transition from page to screen:
Image via Paramount Pictures “One thing that will be very different probably is we’re not making the Frank Miller world where those graphic novels come to life. We have kind of the iconic iconography of the manga and stuff, but I think people will be surprised at the gritty kind of realness of this. For a person that doesn’t have a heart, it has a lot of heart, I think. The way that we’re telling it. Anyway, that’s the hope.”
During our interview with Michael Costigan , executive producer of Ghost in the Shell , he talked about what the film is about:
“It’s both an active story in the middle of the world of Section 9 and the Major and also an origins story, and very much an awakening for several characters in the movie. So you are both immersed in it from the beginning, but it’s also an awakening and a questioning of ‘what am I’, ‘who am I’ in the middle of a very active story.”
On the challenges of bringing this movie to life, Costigan said:
“It’s a world where people are enhanced. What is evolution? Who is a human and who is enhanced? What are these different stages? If you’re enhanced there is a lot of that idea of what would you want to be in that future. You can learn something immediately or do anything. The possibilities are endless. There’s the production design element of it, but there’s also the prosthetics we used to show how people have enhanced themselves, their minds, their bodies. We’ll see that through the Section 9 characters. We’ve been working hand-in-hand with design, costume, Weta for the prosthetics and the builds to work out what that future would be like, look like. It’s a future where people are enhanced and have used technology and it’s also exploring when that works and when that can be manipulated and used. It’s, frankly, everything that we’re dealing with and questioning because there aren’t answers so that’s why I think the movie is so relevant right now. Look at all the great things and access you can have. If you have it, what can you do with it? You can do great things with it. But if you can take the same technology and do bad things with it, it can be dangerous. Who is monitoring that? That is something the movie gets to delve into.”
If you’re a fan of the animated movie, you know how iconic the score is. We asked if the score is going to be inspired by the anime and all he’d say is:
“We love the score from the anime. We don’t have any answers on that yet but we do love the anime.”
On possibly battling the MPAA down the road due to blood or nudity, Costigan said, “We decided from the beginning to make the movie the way we’re supposed to make it and then figure it out from there.”
On what we might see regarding the Major’s body, “What are the markings on the body? What’s there, what’s not there? All of that had to get discussed. In the anime you really see the Major and what she looks like and there have been so many conversations about that and I think the world will get to know sooner rather than later. We were very faithful to the anime, let me put it that way.”
While the majority of the movie was shot in New Zealand, the production went to Hong Kong for a few weeks. Costigan explained why they had to go there:
“The anime is inspired by Hong Kong. That cityscape is a Hong Kong based fusion with Japanese so that’s why we are going to Hong Kong because it’s truest to the anime. It also felt true to the future of what this is all going to look like. I think we’ve been very true to all the Japanese part of it. We are very close to the creators.”
With the popularity of the manga and animated series, people have tried for a long time to make a Ghost in the Shell live-action movie. Costigan explained why it was finally able to be made:
“I think a lot of it is about the fact that we know what the movie means. What’s at stake in the future when we’ve moved past these things where being hacked is being vulnerable and what can be taken from you. This idea has gone from high-level fantasy to science fiction that’s already starting to exist now. It feels like a lot of this that, maybe in the past, might have really felt like fantasy, science fiction that’s way in the future – it now has stakes now. I think it feels tangible now. And with technology itself allows us to create this world now between what we are building, what we are doing with Weta, what we are doing with MPC. Before it would have costs hundreds of millions of dollars whereas now we can actually do it. So I think it’s those factors.”
When talking about the role of gender in the film, Costigan explained what’s great about the roles:
“Gender is really explored because there are deep friendships and deep emotional relationships. It’s complicated because who’s human and who’s cyborised, who is not human in the movie? But, even if you’re not human in the movie and have human emotions like love or fear or desire that was interesting for female and male characters. There are very tight relationships where women can have all ranges of behavior. They can be really strong and really tough and have emotion where guys can be really tough. But Batou, our big tough guy, actually has so much emotion that he’s running away from. I think it’s really baked in there actually. It gets complicated which is why this Dr. Ouelet character was chosen to be female also does make it interesting. How would a female Dr. Ouelet evaluate this and make the choices that she makes? I think they are amazing. I think it really does play out.”
Of course we had to ask about possibly sequels and spin-offs. Costigan told us:
“Everyone is so immersed in this movie that they feel like there are many, many more stories in the world. Everything you’ve seen has been designed from the ground up. People here are so immersed in the world and where does it go? Everybody thinks there are a lot of possibilities for sure. Scarlett is really into it to. When she signed onto the franchise this is a character that she wants to play and can see being done for a long time. Actors don’t take it lightly anymore. When you sign up for one of these movies you’re signing up for a multitude of films so that is something to take seriously.”
Pilou Asbæk, who plays Batou, talked about how much of that spirituality and philosophy of the animated film has made it into this version of the story:
“I think a lot. I think Rupert really tried. And we’re still trying because we’re halfway through the film. You never know what film you’re going to get until it’s been through Neil’s hands, who’s the editor. You have an idea and sometimes you get excited and thrilled when you see this movie and sometimes you get very disappointed. My gut feeling with this film is that we’re actually making something very special. Where I come from, the more people fighting us, the more I enjoy it. You know? That’s the Scandinavian mind. That’s what I enjoy. And I know that a lot of people are really wishing this to be not turning out well, but they’re going to have a long nose next year.”
In the animated movie, the relationship between the Major and Batou is more like an uncle and he’s always looking out for her and not in a romantic kind of way.
One of the big changes at Weta Workshop is the way they’ve gone from making everything by hand to using technology to help them manufacture. Richard Taylor explains:
“On Lord of the Rings , 100% of everything we made was handmade by the technicians on the workshop floor, by the time we reached The Hobbit, 60% of everything we made on The Hobbit was manufactured by robots in the workshop. Mainly robots that we’ve built on the workshop floor so milling machines, plasma cutters, laser cutters, and 3D printers. And I would say that maybe 85% of Ghost in the Shell has been manufactured on robots. We had to buy twelve new 3D printers to pull off deadline for Ghost in the Shell . So, it’s great that you’re building robots on robots. Which is nice. We even built a robot that builds the components for the robots we built, it’s very cool. Sort of like in the very heart of the movie we’re working on. We’ve been very fortunate that this director has not immediately turned to a digital effects solution for everything and has loved the idea of keeping a lot in camera, which is obviously great. Greatly beneficial for us, being a practical effects company." "So we’ve done a huge amount of the shelling sequence practically. Things like Scarlett’s thermoptic suit, which may be in another filmmaker’s film category would have immediately fallen under a digital effect, tracking Scarlett’s face on using a digital character or using digital doubles, has been an extraordinary physical effects suit, very challenging effects suit. Probably the first time a full-silicon suit has been built for an actress. Requiring us to take digital scans of Scarlett, manufacture cores of greatly reduced circumferences to her so we can cinch her into this body-hugging skin that almost looks like she’s in the nude, an almost nude cyborg because she goes thermoptic and turns invisible in the movie. So she had to go through this transitional period where she’s dropped her clothes away revealing this android-like suit, so that’s been great fun building. And lots and lots of other stuff. So that’s a nutshell of what we’ve been doing.”
Richard Taylor also talked about how Ghost in the Shell couldn’t have been made even a year ago:
“We definitely couldn’t have made the movie a year ago in some parts of it. Well, we couldn’t have made the movie a year ago in the way we made it today. And it would have been a lesser visual at a physical effects workshop level than if we had made it a year ago. And I would even argue that maybe the window was as tight as six months. A good example is that the material that we made the shelling sequence skeleton out of, which is a product called VeraClear that you put through a specific type of 3D printer that we just happened to own, wasn’t invented last year. So the ability to actually utilize the material to the degree that we have, and hack the machines so we can use it in the way we want to use it, would have limited our ability to do what we’ve done.”
Tumblr played a role in the costumes and look of the film. According to Kurt and Bart , the costume designers:
Image via Paramount Pictures “Rupert is super visual and he has really specific taste, and I think that led things really in the beginning in the amount of visual research. It used to be you’d go to the library and you’d go to bookstores and you’d go to museums and you still do that, but a huge part of the research is all done online now. Different Tumblrs act as curators. If you want to look up light-skinned black girls with freckles and red hair, there’s be like three Tumblrs just devoted to that. It’s kind of like people who curate these Tumblrs, they can serve as research pockets. Rupert’s very obsessive about that, so there was a huge sharing of information at the beginning, and I think we all melded and started to refine what the aesthetic was. I think it’s a really cool blend between what’s happening now in the world influencing movies that are going to come out later and are going to reinfluence people, and fashion influencing film and film influencing fashion. But it’s funny, those Tumblrs, you look at them — at least the ones we were looking at a lot — and Ghost is all over them. You know, like future fanfare and those are all super beautiful and it’s all Ghost, Ghost, Ghost, but it’s also fashion now, which is really interesting to see all that mixed together because it kind of fits perfectly the way these are all curated together even though they’re from different eras. I think, in the end, Rupert really wanted to curate this timeless film in the same way you watch Alien now and films like that. They just seem kind of timeless. They don’t look dated, and they’re not too sci-fi. That kind of became a bad word to Rupert. There’s “oh, it’s too sci-fi,” and there’s “it’s not sci-fi enough.” You’re like, what? Hopefully it’s that middle ground.”
Some other interesting bits were:
- The action sequences in Ghost in the Shell were designed by Guy Norris who previously worked on Suicide Squad , Mad Max: Fury Road , and dozens of other films.
- The thermoptic suit shows up a couple of times in different moments.
- The shelling sequence will be a mix of practical and CG.
- The finale of the movie will feature The Major fighting the giant spider tank. It’ll also feature her wearing the thermoptic suit. One of the things everyone in New Zealand was proud of is the sequence features the largest set they’ve ever built on the backlot.
- The production partnered with Adidas to do the combat boots for Section 9. They hope when the film comes out the company will do a limited run of the shoes for fans to purchase. Kurt, one of the costume designers, told us, “Adidas, to me, gets fashion. They’ve really been innovative with working with designers like Rick Owens, Raf Simons and people like that as far as developing purely fashion sneakers, and they’re all really expensive and they’re all really cool. But I think they get it and they get that there’s a market for that.”
- Weta manufactured The Major’s thermoptic suit.
Ghost in the Shell opens March 31, 2017. For more from our set visit:
- ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Star Scarlett Johansson on Bringing the Iconic Series to Life
- 'Ghost in the Shell' Producer Reveals What Storylines They Chose for the Live-Action Film
Look for more interviews in the coming weeks.
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Ghost in the Shell
1995, Action/Sci-fi, 1h 25m
What to know
A stunning feat of modern animation, Ghost in the Shell offers a thoughtful, complex treat for anime fans, as well as a perfect introduction for viewers new to the medium. Read critic reviews
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Ghost in the shell photos.
In this Japanese animation, cyborg federal agent Maj. Motoko Kusanagi (Mimi Woods) trails "The Puppet Master" (Abe Lasser), who illegally hacks into the computerized minds of cyborg-human hybrids. Her pursuit of a man who can modify the identity of strangers leaves Motoko pondering her own makeup and what life might be like if she had more human traits. With her partner (Richard George), she corners the hacker, but her curiosity about her identity sends the case in an unforeseen direction.
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Anime
Original Language: Japanese
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Producer: Mitsuhisa Ishikawa , Ken Iyadomi , Ken Matsumoto , Yoshimasa Mizuo
Writer: Kazunori Itô
Release Date (Streaming): Dec 15, 2010
Runtime: 1h 25m
Production Co: Production I.G., Bandai Visual Company, Kôdansha
Cast & Crew
Major Motoko Kusanagi Voice
William Frederick Knight
Chief Aramaki Voice
Project 2501 , Puppet Master Voice
Chief Nakamura Voice
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Every ghost in the shell movie, ranked from worst to best.
Here's every Ghost in the Shell movie, including the 2017 live-action and 2022's Netflix CG-animated compilation, ranked from worst to best.
Apart from the original manga and hours of TV episodes, there are also several Ghost in the Shell movies - here's every one, ranked from worst to best. Although many associate Ghost in the Shell with Mamoru Oshii's film from 1995, which is understandable given its importance to anime, the story of Ghost in the Shell comes from a manga published between 1989 and 1991. From then on, adaptations for all different media, including video games, became common, and Ghost in the Shell achieved the status of both a cult classic and a pop culture mainstay.
What is interesting is that there is not just one long-running Ghost in the Shell story. Instead, there are a few different continuities that, while they feel like belonging in the same story, are actually set in slightly different universes. The first two films, the Ghost in the Shell: Arise OVA , and the SAC universe all have stories that stand on their own and could each serve as starting pointing in the Ghost in the Shell franchise for new audiences. That said, some Ghost in the Shell installments stand out from the others.
Related: Ghost In The Shell: How Pilou Asbæk's Batou Loses His Eyes
In terms of proper feature films, there are eight Ghost in the Shell movies. One movie is a live-action American production, three are compilations of previously aired TV shows, and four are original animated films. There is also a series of five OVAs of less than an hour each, thus not configuring an actual feature film, but some consider them to be parts of a four-hour movie. Here's every Ghost in the Shell movie, ranked from worst to best.
9. Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Hollywood never had a good track of live-action anime adaptations , and Ghost in the Shell (2017) repeated some old mistakes from the industry when it comes to the genre. For example, it featured non-Japanese actors for the key characters in the film, namely Major (played by Scarlett Johansson), Batou (played by Pilou Asbæk), and Kuze (played by Michael Pitt). While technical aspects such as special effects and production design were all blockbuster-level, the movie had an overall sterilized look that lacked the visceral, dystopian feeling of the Mamoru Oshii film – something that Ghost in the Shell (2017) was obviously trying to replicate. The story was very similar to the 1995 movie, and several sequences were nothing but rehashes of iconic moments from the Japanese film.
8. Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War
Compilations of TV shows in the form of a feature film are quite common in the Ghost in the Shell franchise. That is the case of Netflix's new Ghost in the Shell movie , Ghost in the Shell : SAC_2045 Sustainable War , which retells the events of Netflix's Ghost in the Shell : SAC_2045 season 1. It was released as a way to help new viewers to catch up with the story before Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 season 2 drops on the streaming platform. For being nothing but a compilation, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War does not add much for those who have already seen the show, but it does work as a fast-pacing retelling. The CG animation style can be a huge throw-off when compared to the visuals from the rest of the saga, and the story works better for those who have at least some knowledge of the Stand Alone Complex 's chronology and characters.
7. Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2015's 5-Part OVA)*
The five 50-minute chapters of the Ghost in the Shell : Arise OVA can be considered episodes, but they can also be perceived as just one very long movie split into shorts. Either way, Ghost in the Shell: Arise is a great jumping-off point, even better than Netflix's Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 , for those who wish to dive into the Ghost in the Shell franchise, and it has a more straightforward storyline compared to other installments. Even though it is not necessarily part of the same universe as the 1995's Ghost in the Shell , Arise serves as a sort of prequel to the more famous Ghost in the Shell stories. For example, it shows how Major meets Aramaki and joins Section 9.
Related: Michael Pitt's Ghost In The Shell Character Merged Three Anime Villains
6. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)
While the Ghost in the Shell : Arise OVA is not a movie in the traditional sense, its sequel, Ghost in the Shell : The New Movie , is a proper feature film. It was released in theaters, and it continues the universe set up in Ghost in the Shell : Arise . The visuals and the animation are solid, and they, in some ways, even capture the strengths of the 1995 film in a way that the Ghost in the Shell live-action movie never did. Although Ghost in the Shell : The New Movie works as a standalone entry, it is better appreciated by watching the Arise OVA beforehand.
5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Individual Eleven (2006)
The animated series Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex and its sequel Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG are some of the best parts of the Ghost in the Shell franchise. It delivers on both the action and the story, and the visuals are worthy of Ghost in the Shell 's place among pop culture's best sci-fi movies . Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG – Individual Eleven , as the name suggests, is the feature film retelling of Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG , with a focus on the show's Individual Eleven storyline.
4. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man (2005)
Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man is the feature film compilation of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex . Here, the focus is on the show's Laughing Man storyline. While watching the full Stand Alone Complex animated series is the better experience, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man translates part of the show to the movie format very well.
3. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was the first and so far only actual sequence to the original Ghost in the Shell movie and brought director Mamoru Oshii back. Just like its predecessor, it tells rather a complex story through breathtaking visuals and inspired animation techniques. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was far from being as well-reviewed as the first one, but the movie should be commended for trying to be its own thing instead of just mimicking the original.
Related: Ghost In The Shell: Ishikawa's Backstory Explained
2. Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society (2006)
As mentioned before, the Stand Alone Complex continuity is one of the highlights of the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Ghost in the Shell : Solid State Society is a feature film set in that universe, and unlike The Laughing Man and The Individual Eleven , it is an original story and not just a recap. It takes place after the events of Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig and before Netflix's CGI animated Ghost in the Shell : SAC_2045 .
1. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Almost three decades after its release, Ghost in the Shell (1995) remains not only the best Ghost in the Shell movie but also one of the best sci-fi films in general. It is a landmark for animated features, and it both echoed previous works of fiction like Blade Runner and became an inspiration for following sci-fi stories. It blends the cyberpunk aesthetic with philosophical themes, and the result is a unique film that calls for many rewatches. While every entry in the Ghost in the Shell franchise has its highs and lows, the original Ghost in the Shell is an almost perfect film.
Next: Why Blade Runner 3 Is Happening On TV, Not A Movie
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)
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Ghost in the Shell
Original title: ghost in the shell.
Ghost in the Shell streaming: where to watch online?
Currently you are able to watch "Ghost in the Shell" streaming on Amazon Prime Video or for free with ads on Tubi TV, Freevee. It is also possible to rent "Ghost in the Shell" on Google Play Movies, YouTube, Amazon Video, Apple TV, Vudu, Microsoft Store, DIRECTV online and to download it on Amazon Video, Microsoft Store, Apple TV, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Vudu, DIRECTV, AMC on Demand.
Can I watch Ghost in the Shell in theaters?
Yes! You can watch Ghost in the Shell in theaters today. You can get tickets to see the movie in the United States right now.
Where does Ghost in the Shell rank today? The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.
Streaming charts last updated: 9:10:29 AM, 11/10/2023
Ghost in the Shell is 467 on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts today. The movie has moved down the charts by -220 places since yesterday. In the United States, it is currently more popular than Upgrade but less popular than Golda.
In the year 2029, the barriers of our world have been broken down by the net and by cybernetics, but this brings new vulnerability to humans in the form of brain-hacking. When a highly-wanted hacker known as 'The Puppetmaster' begins involving them in politics, Section 9, a group of cybernetically enhanced cops, are called in to investigate and stop the Puppetmaster.
Videos: Trailers, Teasers, Featurettes
Streaming Charts The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.
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Here’s How To Watch Ghost In The Shell In Order
Here's how to make the most of your Ghost in the Shell binge.
Ghost in the Shell is an anime title that most viewers will be somewhat familiar with given the icon status it has received and its more recent live-action adaptation. If you’re new to the franchise, then you may not know that there is quite a lot of content out there within its universe.
Like many other anime franchises, Ghost in the Shell boasts a series of movies, OVAs, and different series that make up its story and universe. Given their release timeline and contents, working out the correct order to watch them in may feel a little tricky.
Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with this series, but to ensure that you’re on the right track, here is the best watch order for everything Ghost in the Shell to date.
Ghost in the Shell watch guide
Ghost in the Shell can be watched both in release order or chronologically; however, neither of these are the best ways to watch it. The best order is a mix of the two, which you can follow along with here.
- Ghost in the Shell (Movie)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Series)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig (Series) / Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig – Individual Eleven (OVA)
- Ghost in the Shel 2: Innocence (Movie)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society (Movie)
- Ghost in the Shell: Arise (OVA Series)
- Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
- Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (ONA)
The difference between this order and the chronological order of Ghost in the Shell is that Ghost in the Shell: Arise has been placed midway through the watch instead of at the beginning, where it would be chronological. This is because it’s best to have knowledge of the show and characters before watching these OVAs.
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Citizen Releases Retro '80s-Style Watches Paying Tribute to Ghost in the Shell
Citizen Watch Company announces the launch of limited-edition timepieces inspired by the new movie Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045: The Last Human.
Citizen Watch collaborates with Ghost in the Shell to launch two new collector wristwatches designed for Japanese cyberpunk fans and fans of chunky retro designs.
Ghost in the Shell fans can now these preorder limited-edition watches, inspired by the latest installment in the Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 series. Citizen Watch Company announced the launch of a pair of timepieces designed with the brand's distinctive Ana-Digi Temp interface, which features two analog watch panels and three digital displays for toggling time and date, thermometer and alarm functions. The watch face has a circuit board design overlay "inspired by cyborgs and cyber space, making it look like a gadget from the near future."
Cyberpunk Classic Ghost in the Shell Launches New Website, Will Host Next Media Project
Preorders for the watch, which costs US$300 (¥45,000), come with a bonus acrylic stand of Motoko Kusanagi wearing the collaborative timepiece. The watches are made to order and available in green or blue watch face motifs, each with corresponding engravings on the rear case; the green JG2155-61W shows a profile shadow of Major Kusanagi , while the blue JG2155-61L features a Tachikoma silhouette. The watches will be shipped in collector boxes overlaid with hologram foil and illustrated artwork. Preorders are accepted until Dec. 24, to be fulfilled as early as June 2024.
Citzen's New Wristwatch is Cyberpunk Chic
The watch weighs 69g and is only available in one size of 32.5mm x 40.6mm x 8mm. The product specs note that its accuracy might deviate by 15 seconds per month within an approximately two-year battery life. The finish is waterproofed for everyday use, durably built with a crystal glass face and a stainless steel casing and wristband. Citizen has been making high-quality watches for more than 90 years, and has directly competed with timepiece brands like Casio and Seiko since. Citizen primarily makes quartz watches but has also released mechanical timepieces under its brand name.
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Similar merchandise collaborations have been launched in service of anime fandoms. For example, Seiko has partnered with One Piece for the launch of its new Gear 5 watch, which features anime references inlaid on the watch face's auxiliary dials. The same company also launched premium collaborative timepieces inspired by Studio Ghibli's Porco Rosso , which was referenced in designs and inscriptions all over the rear case and watch face. Citizen's Ghost in the Shell collaborative watch is perfect for fans of the massive franchise, which has expanded from the manga into multiple entertainment media including toys, video games, anime and a live-action film.
Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045: The Last Human compiles Season 2 episodes from the SAC_2045 series with additional new scenes, debuting as a theatrical release on Nov. 23.
Source: Citizen Watch official site
The 20 Best Free Movies on YouTube Right Now
Posted: November 4, 2023 | Last updated: November 4, 2023
Today, viewers have a veritable buffet of choices when it comes to where they get their movies. Streaming services feature plenty of options at various price points. But viewers may not know that they have another great option that doesn't cost a thing, as long as they don't mind watching a few ads: YouTube .
YouTube's library of movies and TV shows is constantly growing and changing. From classic films, like the original Godzilla , to more recent hits, like Fighting with My Family , the site has movies to satisfy audiences of all ages and tastes. Best of all, these movies are all currently available for free with ads.
Updated on November 3, 2023, by Madeline Matsumoto-Duyan: The list has been updated to reflect YouTube's current library of free movies.
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Begin Again Is a Sweet Musical Journey
Rotten tomatoes score: 83%.
Directed by John Carney of Once and Sing Street fame, Begin Again stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo as an unknown singer-songwriter and a down-and-out music producer. After she breaks up with her rockstar boyfriend and he gets fired, they decide to record an album on their own terms completely independent of big recording labels.
Begin Again may not have received as much acclaim as Carney's other works, but it's an endearing and heartwarming movie about the healing power of music. And like many of Carney's projects, it features a stellar soundtrack, featuring vocals from Knightley herself.
A Cinderella Story Brings Fairy Tale Romance to High School
A Cinderella Story takes the classic fairy tale to a modern-day high school setting. Hillary Duff's Sam works at the family diner while she saves up to go to Princeton and get away from her stepmother and sisters. She soon learns that her virtual pen pal is actually the most popular guy in school, Austin Ames, played by Chad Michael Murray.
Despite being panned by critics, A Cinderella Story has plenty of fans and is a great nostalgic watch. Its cast imbues this take on the fairy tale with plenty of charm, and YouTube also has its sequels available to watch.
Donnie Darko Is a Dark Mystery
After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.
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From director-writer Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko follows a troubled young man who begins having mysterious visions of a man in a rabbit suit named Frank who tells him the world is about to end. Donnie must figure out what's going on and how to stop it as Frank's influence over him grows.
With its genre-blending and complex plot, Donnie Darko became a cult classic when it was released on DVD, and Kelly was able to make a director's cut a few years after the movie's initial release. Both versions are available to watch on YouTube. And with the movie taking place in October, it's a perfect match for the fall season.
Fighting with My Family Is Both Fun and Heartwarming
Written and directed by Stephen Merchant and starring Florence Pugh in her breakout role , Fighting with My Family tells the story of professional wrestler Saraya Bevis, aka Paige. After training with her family since childhood, Saraya and her brother, Zodiac Zak, get a chance to join the WWE, but only Saraya makes it past the first round and must continue without him.
Fighting with My Family is a fun and touching sports movie that manages to seamlessly blend comedy and drama. Each actor gives their all to their characters, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson makes an appearance as well.
Godzilla Is a Timely Classic
The 1954 Godzilla centers on Japanese authorities and citizens facing off against a giant radioactive monster that's terrorizing the nation. The iconic monster movie gave birth to a slew of sequels and reimaginings that continue to amaze audiences today.
Unlike later films, which made the beast slightly more benevolent, the original uncensored Godzilla shows the monster in all his violent glory as the human characters grapple with the ethics of killing the creature. Interestingly, the anxiety around nuclear war and Dr. Serizawa's refusal to let his research be weaponized makes it a fitting companion piece to Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer .
Ghost in the Shell Is Beautifully Animated
Ghost in the shell.
A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
1995's Ghost in the Shell is based on Masamune Shirow's manga of the same name. The anime movie takes place in a future where humans can alter or even replace their bodies with cybernetic parts. When a dangerous hacker starts hijacking people's brains, cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi must hunt them down and try to figure out who -- or what -- they really are.
With stunning animation and engrossing storytelling, it's no wonder Ghost in the Shell is considered one of the best anime movies of all time . There have been several adaptations of the manga, but it's easy to see why the 1995 version is still widely considered one of the best.
Great Expectations Is a Beloved Classic
Rotten tomatoes score: 100%.
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There have been numerous adaptations of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations , but the 1946 movie is among the most beloved. The classic coming-of-age tale follows a young boy who encounters criminals, grande dames and more as he figures out what kind of man he wants to be and learns many life lessons along the way.
Starring John Mills and Valerie Hobson, Great Expectations is a largely faithful adaptation, apart from the ending, which is happier than the novel's conclusion. Even so, it remains the most praised version due to its stunning visuals and memorable performances.
The Illusionist Is an Enthralling Romance
Released in 2006, The Illusionist is a period romance about a magician who falls in love with a young duchess. Their differing classes keep them apart, but the two reunite after he makes a name for himself as Eisenheim, the Illusionist. Although she's now set to marry the crown prince, hope may not be lost yet.
The Illusionist features excellent performances from Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell. While the forbidden romance is a well-trodden path, the movie brings something different to the table with Eisenheim's chilling magical feats and includes some exciting twists throughout.
Ip Man's Action Is Top-Tier
Ip Man is a series of Hong Kong martial arts films based on the life events of the Wing Chun master of the same name.
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Loosely based on the real-life grandmaster of kung fu, Ip Man follows the title character before and during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Master Ip does his best to live a simple life with his wife and son, but outside forces keep calling him back to fight, leading him to face off against several challengers.
Donnie Yen gives his all as Ip Man , and the film's action sequences are riveting. While the details may not be historically accurate, it's an entertaining, emotional story that will surely entice viewers to watch the sequels, which are also available to watch on YouTube.
Kung Fu Panda Is a Hilarious Tale With a Positive Message
Directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne and starring Jack Black, Kung Fu Panda tells the story of Po, a panda who dreams of becoming a kung fu master. When he is identified as the subject of an important prophecy and gets the chance to train with the Furious Five, Po must work hard to turn his dream into a reality.
Kung Fu Panda is an exciting family-friendly adventure featuring excellent action sequences and a heartwarming tale. YouTube also has its sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2 , available to watch for free with ads.
The Lady Vanishes Brings Hitchcock's Signature Suspense
Rotten tomatoes score: 98%.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, The Lady Vanishes follows a young woman named Iris, who is hit on the head just before boarding a train. An elder woman volunteers to look after her, but after falling asleep, Iris wakes to find her new friend has disappeared, and everyone else on the train claims to have never seen her.
Hitchcock's signature suspense elevates the story as it slowly builds up to the big reveal. The Lady Vanishes makes for an excellent mystery that will have viewers wondering if Iris really did meet a Miss Froy or if it was all a hallucination.
Megamind Is Still Fresh Over a Decade Later
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From director Tom McGrath and starring Will Ferrell in the titular role, Megamind centers on a supervillain who finally defeats his superhero rival, Metro Man. But it turns out that ruling the city without opposition isn't all it's cracked up to be, and Megamind must find a new purpose as he questions who he really is without his nemesis.
Megamind is a fun and fresh take on the superhero genre even over a decade after its release. Each voice actor perfectly embodies their role, and Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons' writing brings a lot of nuance to the family-friendly story.
Memento Is a Fascinating Non-Linear Thriller
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Memento follows a man looking for his wife's killer. Unfortunately, he has anterograde amnesia and can't retain new memories, leaving him to piece together what he remembers about his current life and where he is in his investigation.
With its non-linear narrative, keeping up with Memento 's story can prove challenging , but viewers will doubtless be fascinated by how it unfolds. Everything is up to Nolan's usual standards, making for a masterfully crafted and truly memorable film.
Miss Potter Is a Wholesome Biopic
Chris Noonan's Miss Potter tells the story of renowned children's author Beatrix Potter. Starring Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor , the movie focuses on the relationship between Beatrix and her publisher, Norman Warne, as well as her newfound independence as a successful author and her later conservation efforts.
Miss Potter 's story is exceptionally sweet and wholesome, though, like many biopics, it deviates a little from the facts of the author's life. It also seamlessly incorporates elements of her books with clever animation worthy of Potter's iconic illustrations.
Penelope Is a Magical Romantic Comedy
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Penelope is a modern-day fairy tale about a girl who is born with a pig snout due to a family curse. The film follows Penelope's journey to break the curse by finding someone to accept her as she is 'til death do they part.
Although not critically acclaimed, Penelope features a star-studded cast, including Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara and Peter Dinklage, who infuse their characters with charm and warmth, making them easy to root for. The result is an uplifting story about love and acceptance that brings whimsical flair to a modern-day rom-com.
The Phantom Tollbooth Is a Childhood Classic
Based on Norton Juster's children's book of the same name, The Phantom Tollbooth is about a bored little boy who goes on a strange adventure through the Kingdom of Wisdom. He meets many eccentric characters along the way, including a watchdog named Tock, a well-dressed insect called The Humbug, King Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician.
The Phantom Tollbooth features plenty of clever wordplay and colorful characters that can keep viewers of all ages entertained. While it might be a nostalgic watch for those who grew up with the book or movie, it's sure to be engaging for new viewers as well.
Point Break Is a True Cult Classic
From director Kathryn Bigelow and starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, Point Break brings surfing to the crime thriller genre. Rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah goes undercover as a surfer as he seeks out a gang of bank robbers.
While it may wander into "so bad it's good" territory, Point Break is a veritable cult classic. Its chase and action sequences are also quite well done, and the heartbreaking bond between Reeves and Swayze's characters will keep audiences wondering what happens next.
The Ron Clark Story Features Great Performances
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Based on true events, Randa Haines's The Ron Clark Story is about a teacher who moves to New York to teach inner-city kids. Matthew Perry stars as Mr. Clark, who initially struggles to connect with his students. However, after going above and beyond to show that he's not giving up on them, Mr. Clark helps his kids realize their true potential.
The Ron Clark Story is a product of its time and does play into certain stereotypes, such as the white savior trope. That said, Perry gives a great performance, and it's a sweet story that doesn't stray too far from reality.
The Truman Show's Influence Is Still Felt Today
Rotten tomatoes score: 94%.
Peter Weir's The Truman Show follows the titular Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, a man whose entire life has been the subject of a popular television show. As the illusion of the show starts to break down, viewers watch as Truman slowly uncovers the truth about his fabricated life.
In recent years especially, The Truman Show has proven to be an influential film , with hits like Free Guy and the Barbie movie evoking its artificial world. Even 25 years later, Truman's story remains hilarious, suspenseful and thought-provoking. It's no wonder so many filmmakers still find it inspirational.
The Twilight Saga Is a Pop Culture Staple
The twilight saga.
Best remembered for launching Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson to star status and its devoted fan base, The Twilight Saga tells the story of Bella Swan, a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire named Edward. The series follows their love story as they navigate the dangers of bringing a human into the secret supernatural world.
The Twilight Saga has been picked apart since its first film was released, but the franchise proved to be a cultural phenomenon. Despite its flaws, the vampire romance still has plenty of admirers and is even being remade as a television series .
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