While a live-action Ghost in the Shell movie has been in development for almost ten years and talked about since the manga and animated movies were first released, I’d argue it’s probably a good thing it’s taken this long to get made. A decade ago, the internet was still a new place for millions around the world, the majority of computer users believed their data was safe and secure, and the world’s biggest corporations had yet to be hacked. But over the past few years, hacking went mainstream, with millions hit by identity theft and almost everyone having to change a password due to some intrusion on their network.
All across the planet, we’ve pushed into a new world where technology is as ubiquitous as oxygen. We have seen tremendous gains in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. We’re quickly moving into the realm of science fiction being normal life. It’s amazing. But it also might be time to start thinking about what this future could mean when the world of Ghost in the Shell isn’t so far-fetched.
For those not familiar with the themes in Ghost in the Shell, it explores what it means to be human. When you can copy your consciousness to another body, when do you stop being human? Is it your body or mind or both that makes you who you are? In addition, in the world of Ghost in the Shell, hackers can plant memories in your head and the recipient can’t tell what’s real or fake. The world of Ghost in the Shell tries to deal with real issues in a technologically advanced world.
Of course you can’t make a big budget Hollywood movie tackling these philosophical issues alone. But when you mix in these themes with a cool story and some kick-ass action, it’s the kind of thought provoking stuff that will hopefully lead to a special film.
As you might already know, the Ghost in the Shell movie follows Scarlett Johansson as The Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out advancements in cyber technology. Loaded with an all-star international cast featuring Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Kaori Momoi, Rila Fukushima, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara, and Tuwanda Manyimo, the film should be something extremely cool when it opens in theaters March 31, 2017.
Earlier this year, when Ghost in the Shell was filming in New Zealand, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. Over the course of the day we conducted numerous interviews with the producers and cast and I walked away thinking director Rupert Sanders (who helmed Snow White and the Huntsman) was crafting something that both fans of the source material and people that know nothing about it would enjoy. I really think the time is right for this story to be told and the amazing visuals alone are going to be worth the price of admission.
While I usually do a list of “things to know” when writing up a set visit, for Ghost in the Shell, I’m mixing it up. The main reason is we got such great quotes from all the key people that I wanted to let each person speak for themselves. So if you’d like to know a lot more about what to expect in Ghost in the Shell, I’ve provided some highlights from the set.