'Ghost in the Shell' Trailer Review: Faithful Adaptation or Wasted Spectacle?

After a pretty reclusive handful of teasers dropping throughout the last month for the upcoming cyber-thriller Ghost in the Shell, we finally got our first worthwhile taste of what the film truly is this past week, as the first official trailer for the new adaptation released online. Based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, which sees a counter-cyberterrorism unit in 21st-century Japan taking on deadly cyber threats, the first trailer for Ghost in the Shell not only gives off a futuristic Blade Runner vibe, but also looks to deliver another ambitious science fiction role for actress Scarlett Johansson. But with so much controversy already swirling around this project, will this sci-fi thriller sell, or will it just be another dazzling piece of nothing?


When I first heard of this project, I'm not gonna lie, I didn't know a single thing about the popular manga series from which its based on. Far from the manga reader -- or even comics for that matter -- the eerie title of Ghost in the Shell didn't ring any bells for me. Tossing a number of quick teases at me just last month -- with the film's television marketing infesting the commercials with mysterious glimpses of triangles and Japanese imagery -- I was eagerly awaiting to see more from this seemingly-unknown project. When the film's ambiguous marketing was followed by controversy -- concerning the lead actress and her ethnicity -- I dived further into just what made this this film such a target for discussion.

The newest film from director Rupert Sanders -- who previously penned the dark fantasy adaptation of Snow White in 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman -- the latest adaptation for the popular Japanese manga known as Ghost in the Shell finally found its way onto the live-action platform, after a handful of well-received animated feature films and television series. With that, however, came much controversy over the casting of actress Scarlett Johansson as the film's lead. While I may not know much about the film's source material, nor how the project will tackle its Japan-centric tale of sociological issues and identity in the 21st century, the first trailer for this ambitious endeavor into the sci-fi realm offered much to the speculating eye -- beyond just what the lead actress looked like.

From 2013's cryptic chiller Under the Skin to 2014's action-packed Lucy,
Scar Jo already has a pretty unique track record with the sci-fi genre

While the technological world we find in Ghost in the Shell might be a mysterious to me, as far as manga creator and illustrator Masamune Shirow displays it, the first live-action iteration of the series already looks to be in the vein of popular science fiction films such as 1982's Blade Runner and 1999's The Matrix. Set against a chilling futuristic landscape of ambitious technological advances and cyber-criminal activities, our first peek at next Spring's daring new sci-fi flick doesn't disappoint. While there still remains controversy concerning the "Americanization" or "whitewashing" of the adaptation, there's no doubt that Ghost in the Shell could end up being a pretty faithful project to its manga counterpart. With its aesthetics and direction looking as refined and visually-captivating as the other notable sci-fi adventures of Blade Runner and The Matrix, The Ghost in the Shell could be another enjoyable sci-fi indie, one that could be even be worthy of a new film franchise.

Cyborgs, flying cars, and superhuman feats...Count me in

While I won't dive too deep into the casting controversy surrounding this film at this moment, nor the ever-emerging problem of "whitewashing" in many of today's biggest Hollywood films (even in Marvel Studios), I will say that even with the casting of a non-Asian lead, that fact doesn't steer me away from this intriguing project at all. Looking to be a fun, visually-interesting cyber-thriller for the Spring, I'll definitely be interested to see just how this adaptation pays respect to its source material, while also introducing new fans to a technological realm of cyber-crime and intrigue.

What are your thoughts on the trailer for 2017's Ghost in the Shell? Do you think the film could still work with an Asian actress at its forefront? Let me know your thoughts about the project in the comments below, and stay tuned next week for my newest film review in the pipeline! 

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