I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, but actress Scarlett Johansson will apparently star in Dreamworks’ adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell. Variety reports (and Dreamworks later announced) that the actress agreed to star in the film, despite previous reports of her being undecided on the role.
Johansson is the first confirmed actor in the film, which will be directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman, Halo 3: ODST adverts), and written by Bill Wheeler (Empire). Avi Arad (Iron Man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Steven Paul (Tekken, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) will serve as producers, while Mark Sourian (Need for Speed) is executive producing thee film. Paramount has the option to join production as a co-producer and financier, though no final decision was made as of press time.
At this point, the flick hasn’t been greenlit. That said, Ghost in the Shell is a personal favorite of Dreamworks co-founder Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park), and he’s been trying for what seems like an eternity to get the project off the ground. On top of this, ScarJo is quickly becoming one of those rare actresses in Hollywood whose very attachment can get a film approved.
So, any comments on our part at this point would be blind speculation at best. That said, though, the names that have attached themselves to the project are quite fascinating. The attached names vary wildly between the extremes of fantastic (Arad, Johansson), and the absolutely abysmal (Sourian). The writer is a middling talent, and though the director is talented, he appears to be hamstrung by the talent and script in many of his works.
So, talent aside, the film has a lot stacked against it from the get-go. Doubly so, if you consider that every single anime fan will be holding this up to Mamoru Oshii’s truly masterful adaptation from 1995.
That said, though, there’s a chance that this could be a decent film. Given Spielberg’s adoration of the source material, and Arad’s skill for guiding skillful adaptations, there’s certainly a possibility that this could turn out to be an enjoyable experience.
Of course, there’s a greater possibility that this will flounder in the depths of mediocrity, so I would temper expectations at this point, until we receive some inkling of how the film progresses (if it gets past the greenlight phase at all).
Now, that said, I can see the comments brewing already. Scarlett Johansson is about as white as white can get. Motoko Kusanagi, clearly Japanese, is about as far from that as possible. So, yes. there would be a bit of whitewashing in the film.
It’s a troublesome trend that’s really par for the course in anything remotely foreign in origin. It’s unfortunate that, if the Sony hacks tought us anything, it’s that Hollywood film is still an incredibly racist and bigoted industry.
Hopefully, as time goes on, this will change for the better. Until then, though, all we can do is hope that we don’t wind up with a new Dragonball Evolution.