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Ghost in the Shell Movie Double Bill PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 20 November 2006 00:00
Box ArtGhost in the Shell is probably one of the most successful anime franchises there is, with the adventures of Motoko Kusanagi and Section 9, in movie form at least, being one of those shows that people are almost expected to have seen.  This box set first appeared as a limited edition back when Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was released, but now it's back in unlimited form.  Now if only the movies didn't spend so long on philosophical pursuits...

As a starting point, go read the individual reviews:
» Ghost in the Shell
» Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
While I'm a fan of GitS's TV incarnation, Stand Alone Complex, the movies never really made quite the same impression on me - I'm an unashamed action junkie who only rarely enjoys storylines that try to make you think.  SAC provides plenty of action, but the Ghost in the Shell movies - and Innocence in particular - take a far more cerebral approach to their storytelling.

The Major and BatouDealing with troube

Key to both humans is the examintion of what it means to be human.  Both the Major and Batou, starts of the first and second movies respectively, have very little left of their original human form - they're both cyborgs, with full-body replacements that leave only the "soul", or what GitS calls the ghost, to retain their status as human.  In a world where cyborg bodies are commonplace and it's possible to live large portions of your life online, the line between human and machine has been increasingly blurred, and in both movies Section 9 investigates occurences that try to explore that dividing line as closely as possible.

The first movie perhaps does the better job of it, with the main protagonist seeming to have all the motivations and desires of a human but eventually being revealed to be a self-aware computer program.  Perhaps aware of what best sells a movie in the west, there's a large helping of action thrown in to make sure the pondering of the meaning of life doesn't really get in the way of your enjoyment - it's still not the most quickly-paced of stories, but it does keep the attention well and you won't feel cheated at the end of it.

SuspectA few simple questions

Innocence is a different kettle of fish, however.  As well as going to town on the CGI, to produce what admittedly is a simply stunning-looking piece of animation, there's a much greater emphasis on philosophical, expositive scenes, which really works against this being an enjoyable movie.  The extensive quoting of literature that most of the characters indulge in makes it feel as if the film is going out of its way to make you feel uncultured or preach down on you.  It's almost patronising, and not a good way to make people want to engage with the characters or story.  The story itself isn't the most enthralling, either, with it mostly following Batou and Togusa through their painstakingly slow investigation and little in the way of action.

At two for the price of one, though, you can't complain - this is a three-disc set, with the first movie being digitally remastered and Innocence coming on two discs, complete with an impressive DTS soundtrack and more extras than you'll probably ever look at.  The first movie itself is probably worth the money (although it's also available on its own for £10), while Innocence is on one level an impressive reference work for modern digital animation.  As a well-told story it's less successful, but the set as a whole is well worth picking up if you've somehow managed to avoid both movies until now.

Rating - ***

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