It’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything about a live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. How long? The last time we published a story on this particular subject was all the way back in 2008, that’s how long it’s been. Most of us had hoped this had gone the way of buffalo, but apparently Hollywood can’t leave well enough alone, and we got a bunch of news in one fell swoop. Today we learn that Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders will helm the movie for DreamWorks, that it will be based on a script from William Wheeler (The Cape), and that the finished product will storm theaters in three glorious dimensions. In an age where filmmakers like Christopher Nolan have to fight not to get a 3D release, that last part shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Deadline reports that Sanders has reached a deal with DreamWorks, who has owned the rights to the property for quite a while, based largely on Steven Spielberg’s well-known love of the source. Sanders has some other films in the works, like the mob versus feds drama 90 Church, a Napoleon story, and an adaptation of an Alfred Bester short story called The Juliet. More than any of his film work, however, the director may be best known for hooking up with Kristen Stewart while filming Snow White.
Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, the film version of Ghost in the Shell came out in 1995, and along with Akira, is one of the most popular anime movies ever produced. The story follows Major Motoko Kusangi, a mostly bionic super cop, as she pursues a notorious cyber-outlaw known as The Puppeteer, who hacks human minds. It’s a complex story, visually as well as in a narrative sense; thematically it takes on ideas of gender and sexuality, over reliance on technology, and more; and it’s full of action, tension, and drama.
The futuristic world of Ghost in the Shell is stunning, and that’s where Sanders will have the most to offer. Snow White and the Huntsman is a gorgeous film to look at. It is completely empty in every other sense, but it is pretty. That’s where Wheeler’s script, hopefully, comes in. Let’s hope he gives Sanders something a little meatier to work with this time around. We’d all rather see a few less big special effects shots, and a little more focus on character and story. We’ll see how that goes.
Both Sanders and Wheeler have multiple projects in the works, and as there is no timeline given in this report, who knows when, or if, we’ll actually see any movement on this project? Maybe it will be another half-decade before we get more news. I can’t really say that would break my heart. This is going to be a big undertaking, and an easy thing for some hack to screw up.