1995’s Ghost in the Shell has proven to be one of the most influential films in modern cinematic history, and not just in the realm of anime. It is the spiritual godfather to the Wachowski sisters’ The Matrix series, among many other recent sci-fi undertakings, and it spawned its own meta-franchise, which is comprised of a direct theatrical sequel, a television series, and, now, an American live-action remake.
While there has been some controversy regarding the “white washing” of the cast (the original is a Japanese movie set in Hong Kong), there has been a steady drumbeat of hype building for Ghost in the Shell, including the release of set photos and teasers. Now comes arguably the most important pieces of news/hype yet: the blessing of the original animated version’s director.
Paramount Pictures has released a video showing Mamoru Oshii, the visionary driving force behind Ghost in the Shell, visiting the set of Rupert Sanders’s remake. In the video, Oshii voices his approval of star Scarlett Johansson’s take on the Major Motoko Kusanagi character, specifically, as well as the movie’s visuals, generally, saying that, “I’m sure this will be the most gorgeous film in the series.”
On the one hand, such a reaction from Oshii-san is to be expected; in all the pieces of footage revealed thus far – this on-set video, the preview for this weekend’s full trailer, and the various teases – the vast majority of it has been nearly shot-for-shot similar to the ’95 original. Such fidelity must surely be flattering to the original creator – and must make the prospect of a remake all the more welcoming.
On the other hand, however, these brief glimpses also include several new scenes, ranging from Motoko getting intimately close with an individual who asks what she is to the major entering a creepy room full of seemingly-catatonic individuals all plugged into the story’s in-your-head internet. Such a ratio might suggest that there will be sprinkles of new material scattered throughout, just enough to surprise die-hard fans (including Oshii himself) and to potentially push the story into different, previously-unexplored territory.
It’ll be interesting to hear what Mamoru Oshii’s final verdict on the film will be (assuming he is given the latitude to speak freely by Paramount), and it’ll be even more interesting to see the final experience that new helmer Rupert Sanders will deliver, controversies or not.
Ghost in the Shell will open in US theaters on March 31, 2017.