Melancholic pop song. Check. Lots of hyper-cut violence. Check. Mystery box promise. Check. We really have to have a conversation on how to cut trailers. I do not mean to single out the first full trailer for the live-action remake of classic anime, Ghost In The Shell, because hey, it looks pretty good in a noirish cyberpunk fashion. (And hey, there is Beat Takeshi in a small appearance!) But I an tell you that if we keep advertising blockbusters this way, it is its own kind of fatigue.
For the uninitiated, in 1995, long before The Matrix was put into production by Joel Silver and The Wachowski Brothers, Japanese wunderkind, Mamoru Oshii and a large team of traditional animators adapted the 1988 Manga into an influential-in-its-own-right post-Blade Runner cyberpunk masterpiece. It also broke just as ‘anime’ was coming into vogue in America (spawning that awful term, Japanimation, may it never be spoken out loud again!) which garnered it a pretty wide North American theatrical release, which was rare both then an now. Meanwhile, in Japan it has since spawned one major (and quite opaque) cinematic sequel, several (more accessible) OVA spin-offs, as well as TV shows, books, et cetera.
Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) is finishing up on the often delayed American remake, see the trailer below, starring Scarlett Johansson as the iconic synthetic police woman, “The Major” who works with the counter-cyberterrorist organization in mid 21st century urban Japan.
During production, this has bred its own kind of controversy (#OscarSoWhite) in recasting an Asian character — in spite of being an android in an animated franchise — as a white girl. Currently, the landscape around this picture is fraught with peril; perhaps not as much as the recent Ghostbusters remake, but still plenty. The producers have attempted to dodge the issue by stating that the film is not set in Japan, but rather post-national urban setting where all races are represented. Personally, I am more interested if Sanders and his three screenwriters (two male, one female) screenwriters can bring the intelligence, style and wit to the picture, and not make it so forgettably ‘vanilla’ like his previous CGI-laden Snow White movie.
Nevertheless, if you have not had the pleasure of the 1995 version, I recommend finding it, even as I tentatively look forward to what this new version might possibly be. The imagery sure is striking, and much like the western, I’m always a little please to see cyberpunk poke its head into the world of big studio pictures.
One last thing, it appears that the poster designers are fans of Aeon Flux, a bio-cyberpunk, female driven blockbuster from 2005, that was itself a remake of a violent animated series. Unfortunately the Charlize Theron film was not very successful at the box office at the time; but, in my humble opinion, is nevertheless a pretty solid (and currently overlooked) entry in the genre.