The first official trailer for the Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation has surfaced following months of casting controversy and speculation as to whether the remake even deserved to exist. For all the criticisms levied at the film, it certainly seems to nail the aesthetic of the source material.
This film is a live-action adaptation of the seminal 1995 anime classic directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the comic by Masamune Shirow. The original comic spawned the original film, two sequels, a TV show and at least one video game, so this it’s in no way a sacrilegious exploitation of a beloved singular property.. However, there is always a certain amount of trepidation that comes when Hollywood turns its eye to what some may consider “cult classics.”
Ghost in the Shell can be a touchy subject for its fans. The original is as central to the architecture of the cyberpunk genre as Blade Runner or Neuromancer. But if you’ve heard about Ghost in the Shell in the past year, it was likely in the context of a conversation about the Hollywood whitewashing of roles based on non-white characters.
Scarlett Johansson, who has inexplicably gone from girl-next-door to action movie badass, became the center of controversy when she was cast to play the protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, drawing criticism from Asian-American actors, fans of the source material and anyone who has noticed the tendency for non-white roles be adapted for white actors.
The studio argument is that for films of a certain budget, they need to cast actors who have a “broad appeal” in order to generate ticket sales. The director, Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) has defended the casting decision, declaring Johansson as, “the best actress of her generation.”
The trailer, while beautiful, is a little jarring to watch, since the action takes place in Tokyo and the destruction wreaked is at the hands of mostly non-Japanese actors. But like the new American President, perhaps we should give the film a chance before we tear it apart? The question mark is there for a reason, for only time will tell.
Ghost in the Shell will be released on March 31, 2017. Watch the trailer here.