If you saw #GhostInTheShell when it opened this weekend, you probably have strong feelings about the controversial Rupert Sanders-directed live-action movie, in which Scarlett Johansson plays The Major, an iconic figure in Japanese anime history.
For my money, Ghost In The Shell is actually a smart, tastefully-made, visually-thrilling piece of cinema which perfectly introduces the character and her world to Western audiences who might not have seen the anime already — and who might be hungry for similar movies to follow it up with.
If that's you, check out these five movies which could be exactly what you're looking for post-Ghost.
5 Movies Like 'Ghost In The Shell':
1. 'Tron: Legacy'
Thematically, Tron: Legacy has almost nothing in common with Ghost In The Shell. One takes place inside a VR world, the other inside the real world. But both are good movies with exceptional and at times strikingly similar visuals. It took 28 years to follow sci-fi classic Tron with a sequel, but it was worth the wait — Legacy's brilliant soundtrack was scored by Daft Punk, the perfect match considering the whole thing looks like a glossy, dazzlingly futuristic Daft Punk music video.
Some brilliant CGI work transforms Jeff Bridges into a perfect clone of his younger self inside the game. It's not deep, but Legacy is gorgeous and a lot of fun. Jared Leto is rumored to direct the long-awaited sequel.
2. 'V For Vendetta'
After completing the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis wrote V For Vendetta, a near-future dystopian thriller adapted from the acclaimed DC/Vertigo graphic novel by Alan Moore (who hated it, like every other adaptation of his work) and Scott Lloyd. Hugo Weaving is V, a freedom fighter in a Guy Fawkes mask who stages an act of terrorism each year on November 5.
As his protégé, Natalie Portman is brilliant. The whole thing is brilliantly creepy, especially that mask (now a Halloween staple), and an ending which is both victorious and weirdly bleak. Like Ghost In The Shell, V For Vendetta is a vision of a future you'd probably rather never came.
V For Vendetta is available to stream on #Netflix.
As groundbreaking and influential as Ghost In The Shell was when the anime first hit theaters in 1995, there's a case to be made that it wouldn't have happened without Akira, which came seven years earlier and revolutionized Japanese animation. In the Katsuhiro Otomo-directed movie (adapted from his own manga), teenage biker Tetsuo Shima discovers he has similar powers to a psychic named Akira who ignited WWIII and destroyed Tokyo.
The plot is ludicrously complex and impossible to condense any more simply than that, but needless to say Akira is one of the defining examples of the genre and a hugely rewarding entry point into anime. The visuals still look great, too. Naturally, a live-action movie adaptation is currently in the works in Hollywood, with Get Out's Jordan Peele rumored to direct.
More Ghost In The Shell:
- Why Scarlett Johansson Was Actually The Perfect Major
- All The Best Easter Eggs Hidden In 'Ghost In The Shell'
- With 'Blade Runner' & 'Ghost In The Shell', Steampunk Is Back
4. 'Mr. Robot'
Alright, it's not a movie, but USA Network's Mr. Robot shares a similar outlook to Ghost In The Shell, a vision of a society in which corporations have usurped government and assumed an almost invisible level of control, influence and, of course, corruption. It's a corrosive time to be alive and, like The Major, vigilante hacker and social outcast Elliot (Rami Malek) isn't having much fun.
Elliot is not the most straightforwardly likeable of protagonists. He hacks his therapist's computer, manipulates her relationships, spies on his colleagues and pops narcotics, legal and otherwise, like M&Ms. But Malek infuses him with an odd humanity which makes his descent — as he's drawn into a web of anonymous, anti-capitalist hacktivism — relentlessly compelling. Two seasons have aired so far, and you can catch up on #AmazonPrime.
5. 'Ghost In The Shell' (1995)
The beauty of going back to watch the original Ghost In The Shell anime after seeing Hollywood's version is that while you'll already be familiar with the basics of the story (how and why The Major is created), the new one is not a straight-up remake, so the anime still has plenty of surprises in store — and if you enjoy it (you will), there are various sequels and Japanese TV series to dive into. The 1995 film is just the tip of the iceberg, but it's definitely the best place to start, and it's widely considered one of the greatest anime movies of all time.
Check out the rooftop drop scene for an idea of how the new movie drew inspiration from the original (and how great the original still looks today).
What did you think of Ghost In The Shell, and which movie would you recommend watching after?