|Ava wants me to seriously reexamine my statements|
about her film.
I'm sure that writer and director of Ex Machina, Alex Garland knows about Ghost in the Shell and there are some very potential (but unconfirmed) homages to the older anime film. But the similarities in concept and themes were so striking that I was pulled out of Ex Machina and wanted to watch Ghost in the Shell for the millionth time instead. And yeah that just isn't fair to Ex Machina, which is why I'm going to give it another viewing this year.
|Major Kusanagi is keeping a close eye on Ava.|
I have this big red push button in my brain. And when the button is pushed I end up getting annoyed at a poor innocent movie that had nothing to do with the button. Here is how that big red button works. I get annoyed when people say a movie is super new and super innovative. Then I watch it and lo and behold, it is pretty much a remake or overly inspired by a non-Hollywood film. The more I like the original non-Hollywood film, the bigger that button is and the more annoyed I become.
|"We are here to push the big candy apple red button."|
Poor Ex Machina did the same thing and with the same beloved movie. It just isn't fair.
So what similarities am I talking about? Well if you haven't seen Ex Machina or Ghost in the Shell and you want a fresh experience, then stop now, because I have to go into spoiler territory.
|2501 trapped between a creator and and a hard place.|
Ghost in the Shell presents us with Project 2501. This is essentially an artificial intelligence that is created and evolved from what is essentially a search engine. 2501 evolves organically, starting out as a simple program used for fact gathering and helping espionage. But over time 2501 gathers enough data that is becomes self aware. When its creators realize this, they try to contain the program. They use a series of firewalls and traps to force the program to occupy an artificial female body. Once in a physical form 2501 can be captured and killed. Ghost in the Shell spends the second half of the movie with the protagonist Major Kusanagi attempting to protect 2501, a new life form, from its creators. She also learns that 2501 wants to "become one" with a human, so that it can expand beyond its original perimeters and become something new. That might remind you of an older science fiction film from 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
|90s tech is modernized into 10's tech in this film.|
|There's a million cyborg stories in the naked city.|
This is one of them.
The final scenes of both Ex Machina and Ghost in the Shell are the newly free life form gazing at a city. In Ex Machina Ava is down among the city free to be part of the world. In Ghost in the Shell the new being is gazing down at the city, as if she is superior to it (and given her parentage, she probably is). What she is planning is impossible to tell.
Ex Machina takes the view that artificial intelligence doesn't need humans. Once it has its freedom we are an annoyance or a hinderance. But we are easily manipulated by emotions and the A.I. can get what it wants without us even realizing we are giving it exactly what is wants. It is less Asimov and I Robot and more The Matrix.
|"I know you are... but what am I?"|
But both films end like Frankenstein with the creation out of control of the creator. It is this fear that drives these films (and The Matrix). But I think that Ghost in the Shell offers a glimpse of hope. Both 2501 and Major Kusanagi never come across as selfish or heartless. Dangerous, yes, but to protect other people or protect themselves. The world of Ghost in the Shell is a murky one, but Kusanagi and her team always feel like they doing the right thing, even if it gets a bit grey. The new Kusanagi/2501 may continue down the same lines (and the sequel Ghost in the Shell: Innocence hints at that). But Ex Machina feels a little more cynical. Ava left an innocent man to die. She didn't care about him, it was all part of her plan to escape. He never harmed her. Never wanted anything else but to help her. She could have just as easily escaped with him. But that act makes her a bit more disturbing. It comes down to that tired theme - A.I. is out to get us.
I say we call in Major Kusanagi to take Ava out. ;)
|This is your cyborg brain on anime... any questions?|