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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Dr. Ouelet shares many lessons: Memories aren't what make you human, rather the choices you make; Major is the pinnacle of humanity and should value her uniqueness; humanity isn't about the body but about the mind and the spirit; and people aren't weapons to be used for or against others at anyone's will, etc.
Positive Role Models
Major tries to stay true to her humanity despite her artificial body. She's thoughtful and caring, and, of course, courageous and superhuman in her strength/speed/ability. Batou is a company man, but he remains loyal to his team, not just to his boss. Dr. Ouelet loves Major and wants to protect her from harm. Even the supposed villain shows growth and understanding by the end of the movie.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent stylized action violence, with a relatively high body count. Death, injury, and damage are caused by martial arts combat, explosions, gun shots (ranging from a sniper's distance to close range), and massive technological weapons. Mira and another cyborg are shown dismembered; another character's eyes are irreparably damaged and later replaced by artificial vision.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few longing looks between characters. Cyborg/A.I. prostitutes shown trying to lure clients. A couple of tender moments that never cross into outright romantic/sexual. Character hires a hooker-bot in order to touch her face but nothing more. Tight/revealing outfits.
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Occasional but not frequent swearing includes "s--t," "ass," "piss me off," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Part of a larger franchise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character chain smokes; one sequence takes place in a nightclub where adults are drinking and/or smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ghost in the Shell is a martial-arts action film based on a popular Japanese manga franchise. Like the anime version, the live-action movie features a high body count, though the violence is portrayed in a stylized, relatively blood-free way. Expect several intense martial-arts battles, close hand-to-hand combat, massive technological weapons, and shoot-outs that leave characters injured, dismembered, and/or dead. Language isn't frequent, but you'll hear occasional use of "s--t," "ass," etc. Sex is limited to longing looks, a shot of cyborg/A.I. prostitutes, and one scene in which Mira stares at and touches a human woman's face, since she no longer feels a "real" connection to her synthetic body. The movie poses several questions about humanity, purpose, and trust. And, given that it's been criticized for the casting of a non-Asian actress (Scarlett Johansson) in the role of a well-known Japanese character, it may also make audiences think about whether diverse characters should be more authentically represented in films. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This much-anticipated -- and maligned -- adaptation of the beloved cyberpunk manga is visually arresting and pulse-quickening, but it's an action film that focuses much more on style than substance. The source material is a Japanese comic with an identifiably Japanese protagonist -- Major Motoko Kusanagi, the MVP of Section 9, a cybercrime enforcement squad. But because Johansson is obviously not Asian, the narrative must concoct a (fairly believable) story to explain the disconnect. The uproar over the movie's perceived whitewashing of an established character isn't likely to abate because of that explanation, but the manga creator himself had no objections, saying the character's appearance doesn't matter because it's not her "original" self -- one of the main themes of the story. And Johansson does play the part -- a sentient weapon who doesn't know whether she's real or just an expensive puppet on a string -- well.
If the casting controversy is a dealbreaker, this isn't the movie for you. But audiences who are unfamiliar with the manga and unperturbed by the outcry will probably buy into the storyline. Visually, there's a lot to admire: memorable production design, the eerie precision of geisha bots, a Mad Max-meets-Blade Runner aesthetic. The supporting actors are capable, although Michael Pitt's over-the-top villain is a love-him-or-hate-him proposition, much like Jared Leto's Joker. The real standout is Danish actor Pilou Asbaek (best known in the U.S. as Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) as Batou, Major's fellow Section 9 agent and the closest thing she has to a friend. His warmth and occasional humor are much needed opposite Major's intensity. For a moderately diverting entry in the genre of futuristic sci-fi action thrillers, Ghost in the Shell is surprisingly traditional. The twists are predictable, and the revelations obvious from the earliest of Major's interactions with Dr. Ouelet. But there's plenty of Johansson kicking and fighting and being fierce, and that's never a bad thing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.