The live-action version of Ghost in the Shell is a little over a week away from release. It’s been a long journey for the Rupert Sanders-directed remake-cum-reboot of the beloved manga franchise, which has been in development for so long that it at one point even changed studios. In that time there’s been a fair amount of controversy around the film, ranging from an overall sense of futility to the high profile backlash against the white-washing casting of American Scarlett Johansson as the typically Japanese Major Kusanagi (called just The Major in the 2017 version). Now we’re in the final stages of the marketing campaign, however, the focus is shifting to a wider audience and the question whether a niche series will work with the mainstream.
A key selling point of the film is its visual aesthetic, with the run-down New Port City faithfully brought to life with the addition of vibrant CGI imagery, and within that is the action. Most of the trailers have really leaned on the fighting scenes, a mix of bullet-time slow-mo and whip-smart stunt work, with plenty of beats that appeal even to those who haven’t seen the original. To really get people extra excited, the studio’s started releasing full versions of iconic scenes.
Just a few days ago they unveiled the water fight, and now Paramount has released a full four-and-a-half-minute clip that shows the entire building jump sequence from the opening of the film. Check it out above.
The clip (which presumably comes after the ethereal creation sequence) follows Major and the rest of counter-terrorist organization Section 9 as they monitor and interrupt an attempted assassination/data download, with Johansson’s character diving from the roof before efficiently taking out the hostile party. The sequence itself is a mash-up of the 1995 movie’s opening setup and the concept of the geisha robots from later materials, but beyond showing inspiration gives a proper taste of how the movie will feel – Sanders is really pushing the CGI augmentation and showy composition.
This tactic of releasing full scenes, rather than teasing them, is a risky one as it could lead to potential audiences feeling too much has been given away, although in this case it may actually be a good way to sell what the movie is to GITS newcomers and reassure long-term fans the core asset has been handled well. Indeed, both of the full scenes released so far are rooted firmly in the original anime, but we know from the trailers that the film will diverge and head towards elements of the TV show and beyond.
At the very least, compared to the somewhat lackluster earlier trailers, these clips show a real confidence from the studio in the product (and fit the director’s description of his movie as “not the sh*t Hollywood version“. The review embargo for Ghost in the Shell doesn’t lift until next Thursday, a day before release, so it will be a while until we hear if Sanders has delivered on his promise, but this clip definitely provides hope.