4.18.2008

Live Action Ghost in the Shell?

Section 9Just in time for Cyberpunk Month comes news that Dreamworks has acquired the rights for, and plans to make, a 3-D live-action Ghost in the Shell movie.

Boiled down to the essentials, GITS (as the kids call it) takes place in a world where humans and computers have finally taken the final step of convergence. Most people are augmented with cybernetic implants but some have completely replaced their organic bodies with prosthetic ones. The show itself revolves around a SWAT Team-esque special unit of police that specializes in cyber-crime.

Starting as a manga (Japanese comic) in the late 80's and adapted into an full-length anime in 1995, the original Ghost in the Shell movie was widely hailed by anime freaks as a masterpiece but largely went overlooked until The Matrix was released in 1999. The movie's visual presentation of data and information along with its' existential dialog was highly influential on later works of cyberpunk, most notably The Matrix.

Since then, a mini-renaissance occurred with a spin-off/alternate storyline TV series in 2002, which spanned 2 seasons and it's own movie, as well as a proper sequel to the original movie, released in 2004.

Dreamworks was actually the distributor for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, but they still haven't released an English dub for it. You have to understand that throughout all of the movies and TV seasons, Ghost in the Shell has had largely the same cast of American voice actors doing the English dubs and they have always been top-quality (a rarity in the industry). So not getting the English dub going on 5 years after release is pretty lame and doesn't set a great precedent for Dreamworks.

As far as making a live-action movie, I'm not going to get all up in arms about it. I'm not sure that this is going to make the greatest of Hollywood fare, but if the visual style and action stays consistent it will at least be entertaining. The area a film like this is likely to fall short in is the plot, which consists of philosophical existentialism that is tantamount to the action of the originals. Polysyllabic dialog and questions of reality might make audiences' eyes glaze over faster than Neo's conversation with The Architect.

Batuo and TogusaJamie Moss, who penned the recently released Street Kings, is set to write the script. I haven't seen Street Kings yet, and he has no other entries on his IMDB page, so it's kind of a crapshoot.

My advice would be to stick with the Puppet Master storyline. It's tried and true and embodies the heart of what GITS is all about. It will be interesting to see if it takes place in Japan or L.A. and whether or not the characters and character names will be changed. If they keep the characters I hope they don't focus too much on Motoko. Striking a narrative balance with the other teammates was a great move on the part of Stand Alone Complex.

Things I dig: The Matrix trilogy constitutes my favorite movies of all time. A sequel is pretty much out of the question, but this might be the next best thing. It will definitely look totally sweet.

Things that suck: Dreamworks is not exactly a seal of quality assurance, this shit could still suck hardcore. The involvement of Avi Arad has me worried (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four all pretty much sucked but were visually impressive). Untested writer.

Worst case scenario: we'll get something that is visually stunning but intellectually neutered. If they just try to stay true to the vibe that GITS gives off, it will probably be semi-decent.

1 comment:

Hammer said...

I'm really hoping Dreamworks and Spielberg don't take a giant dump on this awesome flick, but I'm not gonna hold my breath. I'd almost guarantee that the studio is going to dumb down the plot to make it palatable for the average joe american movie goer. It's really too bad, because the original was really groundbreaking and will always be a classic in my mind...and that reminds me, I need to finally get it on DVD.