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Tag Archive: Ghost in the Shell


Review by C.J. Bunce

This year’s first cinematic examination of life as a borg came from a beloved international favorite, Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson as “Major,” a truly badass heroine who turns a mission of criminal pursuit into a discovery of the self.  Originally published in Japan as a manga comic written and illustrated by Masimune Shirow in 1989, The Ghost in the Shell went on to become an even more popular anime film series beginning in 1995.  Originally titled Mobile Armored Riot Police, Shirow wanted (and eventually secured) the title Ghost in the Shell to pay tribute to Arthur Koestler’s The Ghost in the Machine, which inspired his story.  This year’s early spring release of the live action Ghost in the Shell is based on the manga, and its available on streaming services, Blu-ray, and DVD this month.

Any fan of cyberpunk, future Earth, replicants and borgs shouldn’t miss this one.  Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) directed a visual treat, a futureworld that is not on par with the dazzle of either Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner or Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, yet it still works well, and the cinematography choices by Jess Hall (Transcendence, Hot Fuzz, Grindhouse) combined with the music of Lorne Balfe and Clint Mansell (which owes much to the scores for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Tron Legacy) sucks viewers into a surreal plane in a sister realm to Tron or Source Code.  Major is probably Johansson’s best lead role, too–a tempered, thoughtful, deliberate performance dotted with the action and violence her fans look for.  She was well-prepped for the role, starring in as the lead in the dark world of director Luc Besson’s stylish action thriller Lucy, and it’s easy to see Johansson getting cast for this role after that performance.

Although the story begins slowly, as more pieces are added to the puzzles and plot threads the film builds to become a thought-provoking examination of the dark side of cybernetics and future technologies.  The source material for Ghost in the Shell is relatively late to the discussion table for cyborgs, following after Philip K. Dick’s replicants in Blade Runner, the similarly themed man-turned-machine in Robocop, and Martin Caidin’s Bionic Man in Cyborg.  More than anything, the story calls back to the Bionic Woman and Jameson Parker and Mare Winningham made-for-TV movie Who is Julia?, a story of a woman struggling to deal with the world’s first brain transplant.  In Ghost in the Shell Johansson’s character wakes up after a near-death, her brain transplanted into a new (better, stronger, etc.) mechanical body as the first brain transplant subject in a world where cybernetics are now commonplace.  Her doctor is played as an elegant and caring protector by Academy Award-winning actress Juliette Binoche.  But the beauty of the film is that just as it has in parts a very predictable story for its place in science fiction (following a long line of visionary medicine stories beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), Ghost in the Shell offers some satisfying surprises that sets up the story well for a superhero-esque sequel or film series.

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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 51st Super Bowl game may be the all-star cast assemblage in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious series.  Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Statham, and many more make for a great cast, and the action scenes look very big indeed.

But we got plenty of new previews, too.  Two movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, one we have seen a trailer for previously, Ghost in the Shell, and the other is a Ryan Reynolds mainstream space flick called Life.  Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it looks like several episodes of spaceship disaster episodes we’ve seen from decades of Doctor Who.  The next Passengers?  Hopefully not.

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Of the sequels, we have previews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (proving again you can’t beat using a Johnny Cash song for your trailer), Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Transformers (5): The Last Knight, and the next X-Men movie, Logan.

Check out all these movie trailers, after the break:

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Funko released advance images of several new lines of toys for this week’s London Toy Fair 2017.  The highlight of the images include two lines of figures from Twin Peaks, plus figures from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Donnie Darko, among others.  The nice sculpt of Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks will be a must for fans of the classic series who are looking forward to this year’s sequel series on Showtime.  The preview photo does not include what accessory will accompany Cooper.  A doughnut?  A cup of coffee?  A piece of pie?  His voice recorder?  We’re betting on the coffee.

Another big win is a Funko Dorbz figure of everyone’s third favorite fictional rabbit, Frank from Donnie Darko.  The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Funko Pop! line includes new characters like

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And here is a look at the Funko Pop! version of blue-haired Scarlett Johansson’s lead borg character Major from Ghost in the Shell:

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The Funko ReAction Twin Peaks action figures are hopefully only a taste of what is to come.  The first round includes Cooper, the Log Lady, Bob the killer, and dead Laura Palmer (eww):

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Masters of the Universe.  Red Dwarf.  Mortal Kombat.  And we revisit Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Let’s start this year’s borg.com Hall of Fame ceremony by talking a little about who is NOT in the Hall of Fame who might come close if borgs were more loosely defined.  We still haven’t included the non-organic: like automatons, androids, or robots.  Think Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation before he met the queen in Star Trek: First Contact–despite his perfectly life-like appearance.  For the bulk of the series Data was always an android, not a cyborg.  He’s just a highly advanced C-3PO–until First Contact. 

Droids from Star Wars, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robot B-9 from Lost in Space or Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers, the police force of THX-1138, Box in Logan’s Run, the perfectly human appearing kid-like star of D.A.R.Y.L., the several automatons of episode after episode of The Twilight Zone, Beta in The Last Starfighter, Tron and Flynn and the other microscopic, human-like bits of data in Tron, Hellboy II’s Golden Army, the future Iowa Highway Patrolman in Star Trek 2009 (we assume he’s just wearing some police safety mask), Rosie the maid in The Jetsons, Hogey the Roguey from Red Dwarf, Marvin the Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, X-Men’s Sentinels, Lal and Juliana Tainer from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the title character of CHAPPiE, or Iron Giant, despite their human-like or bipedal nature, none are actual borgs because they lack biological matter, living cells, or the like.

The same applies for the robotic hosts in Westworld–Michael Crichton’s original was clear these were merely automaton robots and we’ve seen nothing from 2016’s HBO series to show that has changed (even the NY Times got it wrong).  Which explains why The Stepford Wives aren’t on the list, or Fembots, either from The Bionic Woman or the Austin Powers series, or the Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So who’s in?

Here is Round 4, the twenty-eight 2016 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order, some from 2016 and others from the past, bringing the roster count to 134 individuals and groups:

First up is Time, yep… Time itself.  From Alice Through the Looking Glass, a powerful Father Time-esque human/clockwork hybrid who rules over Underland–

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From George Lucas’s original Force-wielding character as envisioned by Mike Mayhew: Kane Starkiller from Marvel Comics’ alternate universe story, The Star Wars:

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The Major, from 2017’s Ghost in the Shell:

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Max Steel got his own movie in 2016:

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Steel hails from the Mattel action figure who received multiple super powers due to an accidental infusion of nanobots:

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Cave Carson from the update of the classic DC Comics comic book series spelunker, the new series Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye:

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Although he was a charter member of the borg.com Hall of Fame, Darth Vader returned in Rogue One, providing some new images of the classic borg:

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More of our inductees, after the cut…

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Our annual “All the Movies You’ll Want to See…” series has been one of the most viewed of all of our entries at borg.com each year.  So this year we again scoured Hollywood and its publicity machine for as many genre films coming out in 2017 that have been disclosed.  The result is a whopping 58 movies, many you’ll probably want to see in the theater or catch on video (and some you may want to skip).  We bet you’ll find a bunch below you’ve never heard of.  Bookmark this now for your 2017 calendar!

Most coming out in the second half of 2017 don’t even have posters released yet.  We’ve included descriptions and key cast so you can start planning accordingly.

What do we think will be the biggest hits of the year?  How about Star Wars: Episode VIII or Wonder Woman?   Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of 1,000 Planets?  Ghost in the Shell?  Or Beauty and the Beast? 

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You’ve heard endlessly about Logan and Justice League, but 2017 will also see numerous other sequels, like Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, and sequels for Underworld, Resident Evil, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean, XXX, John Wick, King Kong, The Fast and the Furious, Cars, The Kingsman, Transformers, Despicable Me.   And The Six Billion Dollar Man is finally on its way.  Look for plenty of Dwayne Johnson, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, John Goodman, Michael Peña, Ryan Reynolds, Sofia Boutella, and Elle Fanning in theaters this year.

So wait no further, here are your genre films for 2017:

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Based on the Japanese manga novel that sprouted several animated movies and television shows, Ghost in the Shell is finally coming to theaters in a live-action version next spring, from director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman).  Ghost in the Shell, inspired in part by the influential Arthur Koestler philosophical study Ghost in the Machine (resulting in the manga’s title), is a popular cyberpunk story of the dangers of cybernetics.

As with the original manga, the story follows a tough woman hero called The Major, who had an accident as a youth necessitating significant borg prosthetics.

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In fact cyborg brains are commonplace in the future Earth of Ghost in the Shell.  Scarlett Johansson stars in the film, along with Juliette Binoche and Takeshi Kitano.  Check out this first trailer, which evokes some Blade Runner scenes and cityscapes:

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