January 25, 2005
Review: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Writer-director Mamoru Oshii returns to the world and ideas of his 1995 Ghost in the Shell with a new tale which picks up at some point perhaps not too long after the original.¹
The most compelling aspect of this new film is not the story, nor really the animation, but instead some very interesting environmental artwork by the production house, Production I.G. Best known here in the States for their recent work in Volume 1 of Kill Bill², they present a few environments here which really stuck with me. The cyborg forensics room was presented in a very stark white almost bleaching out all detail of the room, really accentuating the apparent chill in the air -- indeed, it caused me to shiver. The other truly compelling environment was that of a hacker's home-cum-castle, with an ethereal shifting moat and a series of surprising (if repetitive) occurrences within. I imagine these were adapted from the manga upon which the film is based, but they really pull it off.
The story contains the same sort of pseudo-philosophical questions involved in the last one, directed at what becomes of humanity when humans become more machine than flesh. Wrap those questions together with a plot which could have easily been dispensed with in far less time, and a number of obscure quotations by the characters, and you get a mix which for some people will be quite heady. At times, however, I felt myself identifying with the young cop constantly asking, "Can we get back down to business?"
The overall approach taken in the movie appears to be a mix of 3D, for some of the environment and particularly for some particle effects which I find hard to imagine being hand-drawn, and traditional cell techniques for everything else, particularly the characters. The ways in which the two are melded are frequently to good effect, but can be jarring -- at times, the perspective on the characters and the speed at which they appear to be moving does not match the environment they are in. I'm not sure that this isn't intentional, but it was at times quite distracting.
Overall, I confess to missing the main character from the first movie, whose partner takes the lead in this one. She was both more compelling and more fun to watch than her hulking partner.
One final note on the subtitles. I flipped through the various subtitling modes but could not find one which included only the dialog, and not things like "[gunshot]" or "[noise of crowd]". These were completely unnecessary and marred the experience, occurring as they would at random times. What were they thinking?
**½ (out of four)
¹Note: I haven't seen any of the recently released (on DVD) series, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, which may put to rest some questions.
²Apparently they also did some work in last year's Gamecube RPG, Tales of Symphonia, though I've not played that.
Posted by Brett Douville at January 25, 2005 09:52 PM