Most of the focus surrounding the upcoming live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow's 1989 manga Ghost in the Shell has centered on the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson, who's decidedly a stretch for Japanese protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi. It's thus appropriate that the newly released trailer kicks off with a face-to-face introduction from Scarlett herself.
"I'm thrilled to have been given the opportunity to play The Major, and I'm so excited to be able to show you a glimpse into her world" Johansson says in the trailer.
Johansson's casting led some critics to worry that the film, set for release on March 31, would back away from the distinctly Eastern aesthetic of the manga and the 1995 anime in favor of a more Western look. Producer Steven Paul stoked those worries further when he told Buzzfeed last summer that the tale wasn't "just focused on Japanese" and that he was going for an "international approach."
But now that the trailer's out, it's clear that "international approach" honors Ghost in the Shell's roots. It's too soon to tell how well its pieces fit together, but the trailer itself is a cascade of striking images, jumping deftly from shots of crowded apartment blocks in the style of Kowloon Walled City to sweeping panoramas of cityscapes where holographic 30-storey ads with geishas nestle against skyscrapers. If nothing else, it certainly looks good.
And last week, Mamoru Oshii, director of the 1995 anime, gave his blessing in a short clip with "behind the scenes" interviews when he said Johansson "has gone above and beyond my expectations for the role."
The movie itself is distinctly Motherboardy, focusing as it does on The Major, an assault team member with a powerful cybernetic body who's tasked with hunting down a dastardly hacker who threatens to bring down the robotics company she works for. That very body turns out to be subject to much the same problems of what we call The Internet of Hackable Things, which leads The Major to indulge in ass-kicking and deep contemplation of the meaning of it all. Should be fun.