Once described by the late Roger Ebert as “Japan’s Blade Runner”, Mamoru Oshii’ seminal anime film Ghost In the Shell has been a gigantic influence on some of Hollywood’s biggest sci-fi blockbusters for the last 25 years (the Wachowskis once said that without it, The Matrix probably would never have happened), and for the longest time now Hollywood has been trying to return the favour with a big budget live-action adaptation.
With its deep themes and hard questions about identity, equality, advancing technology and just what it actually means to be human, Ghost In the Shell is not your typical studio fodder, which is why most thought it would never happen. But never underestimate Hollywood’s commitment to turn anything into a movie property, as it was announced earlier in the year that Dreamworks (led by Steven Spielberg, who is a gigantic fan) had tapped Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders to helm a live-action version. And according to The Wrap, it seems that Sanders may just have found his leading lady/cyborg in Margot Robbie, who is currently in talks to star.
Ever since she had her breakout (of her clothes, most will probably remember) role in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, Robbie has become a hot commodity in Tinsel Town. She’s currently busy filming David Yates’ Tarzan as the Jane to Alexander Skarsgaard’s Lord of the Jungle, and has roles lined up in Will Smith’s Focus, as well as sci-fi adaptation Z for Zacharia opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine.
For Ghost In the Shell it is assumed that Robbie will be playing some version of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a mostly cybernetic Public Security Section 9 agent in a high-tech, highly interconnected cyberpunk future where implants are commonplace, to the point where some people are nothing but humanoid robot shells housing what little is left of their organic brains. Kusanagi leads a team of operatives on the trail of The Puppet Master, a master hacker that can “ghost hack” people’s cybernetic brains to steal personal information, implant false memories and even take control of their bodies to make them commit crimes.
It is believed that instead of adapting Oshii’s more well known animated film, this film’s script, written by newcomer Bill Wheeler, will be using Masamune Shirow’s original manga comic series as a basis. The biggest difference between the two being that the manga’s story continued on way after the events depicted in the film, as well as changing the final confrontation between Kusanagi and the Puppet Master.
After the recent success of the just as trippy Lucy, the climate may just be right for another female-led, high-concept sci-fi actioner like this, especially one with this kind of history and status in pop culture. Granted, Ghost In the Shell gets a whole lot more heady and philosophical than Luc Besson’s recent flick, something that I really hope they won’t dumb down here.
Last Updated: September 5, 2014