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Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (Redux) PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 00:00
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (Redux)There's long been a habit in Hollywood to go back and revisit movies, and give them the "Director's Cut" treatment - a lick of new effects here, a deleted scene restored there, and suddenly you have a new "experience" that fans of the original are willing to shell out on again. Here, Ghost in the Shell gets the revamp treatment, but doesn't come out of it as well as those behind it may have been expecting...

Picture the future, where the 'net has become such a key component of life that many people live a substantial part of their existence in the virtual world, where artificial intelligence programs have become almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Artificial components are also replacing flesh and blood, in anything from small replacement parts up to full-body replacements, creating cyborgs whose only true human organ is the brain that controls them. Major Motoko Kusanagi is the commander of Section 9, a government counter-terrorist unit that makes use of the 'net to carry out their operations, and the debate around where technology ends and humanity begins is an area that she has plenty of experience in - she is, after all, the remnant of a human soul housed in a full-replacement cyborg body. Section 9's latest case is a disturbing one - modern technology makes it possible to hack directly into a person's brain and take control of them, a process known as 'ghost-hacking', and a hacker known as the Puppet Master has been making full use of this ability. His current targets seems to be those connected with upcoming aid talks between the Japanese government and the country of Gavel, and Section 9 have been brought in to track him down - but the Puppet Master is smart, and his methods mean finding him is no easy job...

RooftopOut with the trash

ApparitionCaptive

Ghost in the Shell is one of those movies that most anime fans will be familiar with - it's been a anime staple since it was first released many years ago, and in story terms it hasn't aged badly at all. The real focus of the story is an examination of what it means to be human - the Major arguably isn't, but although she's fully aware of what she is she's convinced she has as much right to be considered human as anyone else. Certainly she seems as human as any other character in the movie, and her team treat her as such. The parts of the movie that deal with this side of things are quite slow-moving and need to be paid attention to - especially since "ghosts", the term given to the soul of a human and what makes them human, form a fairly key part of the story. The picture becomes even more confused after the Puppet Master - who is revealed to be "merely" a self-aware computer program - requests political asylum, quoting the similarities that he has to the human soul as part of his justification, and in doing so leading the Major to question even more just what side of the battle she should be on.

On the other side of the tale is Section 6, the security unit attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have their own particular interest in the Puppet Master - an interest that leads to a bloody confrontation before the end of the movie. The action scenes are particularly well done, requiring little in the way of the touch-ups that other scenes have had and breaking up the slower character-based scenes nicely. This incarnation of Ghost in the Shell has always seemed a little dark for my liking - at heart I'm more of an action fan, and the philosophical examination of "humanity" that GitS indulges in gets in the way of that a bit, and for me means that the Stand Alone Complex TV incarnation makes for better entertainment - SAC does still have the philosophical aspect, but it's not as high-profile a part of the series, allowing the action to command more of the focus.

TargettingFinal moments

But enough of the story, as it's probably old news for most people who are reading this. The real point of interest here is in how Redux compares to its original incarnation, and to be honest I'd have to say stick with the original. The most obvious change is with the computer systems featured in the movie, which have switched from the original green palette (also used in SAC) to the largely orange look and feel used in the Innocence movie. Whether you like this or not will come down largely to personal preference - me, I preferred the green look, so there's one negative point. There are also a few scenes that have been completely redone in CG, including the opening rooftop scene and the Major's sea-diving later in the movie. Taken by themselves these look okay, if a little artificial; put against the rest of the movie, which has received a decent remastering but otherwise left untouched, it looks out-of-place, 21st century CG animation mixing in with 20th century cell animation to create an animation chimera that just doesn't look quite right.

The end result is a release where you wonder, to some extent, why they bothered. The CG retouch doesn't really add anything in terms of appeal that the original version didn't already have, it just brings some visual elements into line with Innocence to create a common look between them. As a curiosity, it's nice to have; if for some reason you never had the original version then this is well worth picking up, but purely on the back of the story and not the retouch. If you've already got the original version, it's a lot trickier to justify - I've rated below on the basis of story alone, but I would think long and hard before double-dipping for this version.

Rating - ****

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