Then and Now Month: Ghost in the Shell (1995) Review

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It will be an unpopular view and one that flies in the face of popular opinion but I didn’t “get” Ghost in the Shell. It begins well, with plenty of potential and a very cool, basic idea, but soon it feels like it loses it’s way and whatever it is trying to achieve becomes lost.

It isn’t that I want my films to be over-simplified or every detail spelled out for me, just that the movie I’m watching should at least be accessible and although it starts in that manner, Ghost in the Shell doesn’t continue that way. The concept of “Ghosts” within robotic bodies is a great one and brings with it lots of questions about humanity, existence and what it is to be human but when it is presented in such a confusing manner, you can’t help but lose the point.


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The movie at least looks the part


The movie at least looks amazing and some of the imagery is incredible. The central character, Major, and her ability to disappear, is one which brings with it cool moments. One particular chase in the first act is the highlight of the movie, with a battle in a shallow water-feature demonstrating the genius behind the central idea here.

It doesn’t help that animation has moved on. Anime in it’s earliest stages was never the “cleanest” of animation and it is no different here. Technology has spoilt us for choice when it comes to animated movies and some purist will prefer the old-fashioned animation style but Ghost in the Shell feels dated now, along with some if it’s concepts.


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The film feels like a confused mess


It is shame that it is so jumbled, particularly towards the finale, as there is a good movie hidden within. For all of the cool ideas, intelligent and interesting questions and some incredible design, especially for a futuristic world in which to live, there is also a mess of plotting, poor dialogue and some scenes which don’t seem to fit. At times it feels like you are guessing what people are doing, who is on what side and why people are fighting. Add to this a complete lack of logical villain and the problems begin to mount up.

It is easy to see why this movie would inspire iconic films such as The Matrix. It is also obvious as to why they are remaking this film as a live-action movie. I just hope they learn from some of this film’s mistakes in the process.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell looks the part, is special in design and intelligent ideas but loses it’s way sorely and becomes a jumbled mess. A film shouldn’t alienate it’s audience and that is exactly how Ghost in the Shell feels.

Rating 1.5


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Not the film I was hoping for



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