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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 14 March 2006 00:00
Innocence - Cover ArtGhost in the Shell returns in its latest incarnation - Innocence, the second feature-length film.  With the Major gone to live life within the 'net, Batou and Togusa take centre stage investigating a batch of gynoids - "pleasure droids", if you like - who have gone berserk and killed their owners.  As with the first film, expect more musings on the nature of life than anything else...

"In 2032, the line between humans and machines has blurred almost beyond distinction. Humans have virtually forgotten what it means to be entirely human in both body and spirit, and the few humans that are left coexist with cyborgs (human spirits inhabiting entirely mechanized bodies) and dolls (robots with no human elements at all).

Batou is a cyborg. His body is artificial: the only remnants left of his humanity are traces of his brain and the memories of a woman called The Major.

A detective for the government's covert anti-terrorist unit, Public Security Section 9, Batou is investigating the case of a gynoid - a hyper-realistic female robot created specifically for sexual companionship - who malfunctions and slaughters her owner.

As Batou delves deeper into the investigation, questions arise about humanity's need to immortalize its image in dolls. Together, Batou and his partner must take on violent Yakuza thugs, devious hackers, government bureaucrats and corporate criminals to uncover the shocking truth behind the crime."

Innocence - Going up...Innocence - Questioning the tech guru

That's the blurb from the R1 DVD release - a bit more detailed that what's on Manga's version, and it gives a good feel for what Innocence is about.  It's not just one gynoid that's gone berserk, it's a whole batch of them - a batch that had been given to several notable people for "evaluation" purposes.  That raises the possibility of the attacks being a terrorist attack, which is why Section 9 have taken the case on.  In theory, a gynoid's programming should prevent it from being able to harm humans (they're meant to self-destruct if the urge arises), but that didn't happen in this case - why?  The mystery deepens when executives of the company that built the "faulty" gynoids begin to be targeted, as well.

Innocence - Inside the machineInnocence - Data City

A lot of the film is just Batou and Togusa carrying out their investigation - solid, old-fashioned police work, leading them through the trail of evidence back through criminal gangs until they finally have enough evidence to mount an operation to bring in the culprits.  That means that the first two-thirds or so of Innocence is very dialogue-heavy, and with most of that being just Batou and Togusa talking to each other.  There are only two significant action scenes in the whole movie - first where Batou takes the direct approach to getting to speak to a Yakuza boss, and again for the final assault on the gynoid manufacturing plant.  If you're expecting to see Stand Alone Complex's more action-oriented style of story, you'll be disappointed.  Likewise, the almost complete absence of the Major may also disappoint some - although she does appear, sort-of, towards the end of the film.

Innocence - Calling bluffInnocence - Familiar person, unfamiliar face

Innocence emphasises the original movie's weak points & ignores its strengths, leaving an end result that's definitely lacking.  Where it does stand out is in its visuals, though, which are a real showcase for what's currently possible with CGI animation - but that just means the film risks being tagged as nothing more than a triumph of style over substance.  For many people the style will be all they need, but if you're looking for more then Innocence is unlikely to be for you.

For me, it's all the philosophical musings on the (limited) differences between robots and humans and what it means to be human that pushes me away from enjoying this.  Add the extensive quoting of literature that most of the characters indulge in, and you start to 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.

Innocence would probably work a lot better as a 30-minute episode, with most of the highbrow content stripped out.  That would be more in keeping with what people would expect from GitS, now that SAC is the most visible part of the franchise.  As it is, it's an outstanding example of the state-of-the-art in CG graphics & visual presentation, but the story itself spends too much time pondering its navel to really grab the attention.

Rating - ***

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