A mysterious new hacker known only as the Puppet Master threatens to create chaos, erasing and rewriting the memories of his victims: humans who have cast away their physical body to become cyborgs. Is he an evil genius, or could he signal the beginning of a new age in the relationship between man and machine?
WRITER’S NOTE: *SPOILERS* This review assumes that you’ve seen Ghost In the Shell(1995), as it simply focuses on the changes between the original film and this version.Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is to Ghost in the Shell what the Special Editions are to Star Wars, and while GitS 2.0 is nowhere nearly as egregious as the Special Editions, it still feels like a pointless exercise in updating a previous work.GitS 2.0 was released in 2008 in celebration for the release of The Sky Crawlers in theatres that same year, as a way for it’s director, Memoru Oshii, and studio Production I.G. to cross promote both projects. The intention of 2.0 was to “remaster” the original film in away, but it doesn’t really feel like a remaster, it feels like a project intended to make money of an established franchise. And what we got was a weird mix of 2D animation from 1995 mixed with 13 years worth of advancement in CGI attached to a film never intended to have it in the first place.The main difference between Gits 2.0 and The Sky Crawlers, besides the obvious subject matter and presentation, is that The Sky Crawlers was planned from the start to have CGI integrated with the 2D animation, and as a result, the mix between the CGI and the 2D animation for that movie mesh a lot better in that film.The biggest and most obvious change in 2.0 is that a few scenes have been replaced with fully 3D animated versions of those scenes. These new scenes conflict with the original, not only because the switch between the 3D and 2Dcan be a bit jarring, but the 3D is presented in a different style to the 2D. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the conflicting film making styles between the 2D and the 3D.The original film is almost entirely simple static shots, while the 3D animation has sweeping camera shots that don’t fit the style of the original at all, simply because the 2D animation wasn’t capable of these shots. The film was working with what it could the time it was released. It just feels weird going from smooth flowing movements with the CGI, to all of a sudden staring at a static couple of characters talking or plot happening.There are several other shots throughout the film that have had parts of them replaced with CGI, such as aircraft or certain background features like an aquarium. I guess these were used to heighten scenes, but like I said before, the original Ghost in the Shell film was never meant to have CGI, so it just feels out of place.I wouldn’t call the CGI awful, but it’s definitely just OK. It’s pretty clear the team behind the CGI added shaders onto it to try and give it a bit of a 2D feel, trying to wash out any detail the 3D models had, but it doesn’t help. A minor nitpick i have is the difference between look of the digital picture. It doesn’t match the grainy filmic look of the original footage. That sounds like a weird complaint, but it just shows the difference between something made in a computer and something made in an analog format by human hands (ironic).The only change that i thought looked good were the holograms throughout the film being replaced with the CGI. They were the only things in the original meant to look digital to begin with, so the replacement CGI is the least intrusive CGI in the whole thing.Another minor grievance I have is the framerate difference between the 2D animation and the 3D animation. It’s just another reason on the pile of reasons that mixing the 2D animation and the 3D animation wasn’t that good of an idea.Everything else that wasn’t completely replaced with the CGI has also been modified to varying degrees. Every shot of the film has been tinted with a warm orange color, with varying intensity. Some shots it’s barely noticeable, and in some shots, it’s overpowering to the point of washing out a few scenes. It completely ruins the cold clinical blue look that the original film was going for, that was supposed to help heighten the sense of some characters losing their identities and becoming more robotic with how modified their bodies were. I assume it the color tinting was to help the older 2D animated scenes match the new CGI, but it just ruins the stylistic choices the original had.The weirdest thing about this new version is the way it was re-edited. Several scenes have been changed, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason why. All of the edits are simple trims, cutting anything from a couple of frames to about a second of time off at most. But the fact that these edits were made make no sense. They add literally nothing to the whole experience. I don’t know if it was done to make the whole experience feel different or was done just to make a change for changes sake, but it just felt unnecessary.The other obvious and significant change is the new audio mix. The original soundtrack was re-arranged and re-recorded, and the whole thing was remixed into 6.1Channel Surround, done by Randy Thom over at Skywalker Sound,previously working on Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. For the most part, I don’t really have any problems with this. A lot of the new sound effects are not terrible, but nothing to complain about.Along with the remixed audio, the Japanese voices were also re-recorded to try and modernize the dialogue. I don’t speak Japanese, but from what I can tell compared to a decent amount of Japanese performances that I’ve heard throughout the years, the performances are fine. The biggest change is that the original voice of The Puppet Master, played by Iemasa Kayumi, the male voice, was replaced by Yoshiko Sakakibara, a now female voice. This isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but it feels like another change in a long list of unnecessary changes.I could see the argument that since it’s a robot intended to be female, it would have a female voice, but then why does the Major’s voice change back to her previous voice at the end of movie when she’s in a new body? And since the new sentient AI was born in the sea of information, it would either go with whatever voice it happened to be “born”with or pick something that represented itself.I have no idea if this change was done with some sort of intent, but considering how many weird changes that 2.0 gets seemingly without much thought, I’d be surprised if there was any intent in the change of voice besides changing something for the sake of it, like maybe a perceived error in casting a male voice.When it comes down to it, this whole 2.0 experiment feels a little pointless. If the entire film was redone as CGI, it would have at least been consistent in it’s quality. It still might have been a pointless shot-for-shot remake, but it would have felt less intrusive. But instead, what we got was a mixed bag in terms of a “remaster”. None of the changes feel like they enough of a change to justify their existence.Best case scenario,Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is a companion piece to the original and is for fans only. Worst case, it’s entirely skippable, but doesn’t exactly ruin the film. I have a hard time recommending this when it’s incredibly easy to find and watch the original version of GitS over 2.0. The only people who would be interested in this version of the film would be fans of the original version anyway, and those are the people who would complain about this the loudest. And this version is not exactly a good way to introduce more people to a classic movie like this.
I just finally watched this remastered version and I guess I'll give my thoughts on it while its still fresh in my mind... Story: 8/10 The storyline (as being the original movie - well sort of since this ver. is the remastered ver.) is good overall the idea of a puppet created by Section 6 that has gone rouge was a pretty good idea however it was still confusing on whether or not this puppet was man-made or if it was really human at one time but then got trapped as a "Ghost" ~ The one thing that bothered me was the fact that Motoko kept taking off her clothes whenever she wanted to become badass which is very odd to me (note I'm not against it). The fight scenes were pretty owie because it was limbs being twisted and such lol Animation: 4/10 Its hard to give this a good animation review just because it was one of the first anime out there so the animation is pretty out there ~ They're all so different from their Ghost in the Shell series counterparts...thats another thing that bugged me I noticed Motoko's voice is different from the series voice actor so that really bugs the living shit out of me...but it was still fairly similar for someone to not really notice. Since 2.0 is a remastered ver. of the original movie I noticed the artwork was better ~ (above: Top - Remastered Version, Bottom - Original) Sound: 4/10 This is one of the few animes where I'm not that interested in the sound, the main theme song throughout the movie was like an opera special between kids and after awhile it really started to bug me...but again after awhile it grew on me. However I do not like the fact that only that song plays while theres like an intermission of just images and this song playing, that was the only part in the movie where I was bored out of my mind.... Characters: 7/10 I give this a seven out of ten just because I watched the anime series first and not the movies so the characters already grew on me, I didnt like how they only showed Motoko, Batou, and Togasa mostly with very bits of Aramaki, the only time you saw Ishikawa was at the end and that was super brief!!!! And now that I'm thinking about it there was absolutley no Tachikomas either!!! WTF? (above) yes people she is naked... Overall: 6/10 Overall it was fairly good but I dont think I would add this to my anime I want to buy list unless I get the urge to buy the anime series in general...if thats the case then yes I would like to get the movies just because it wouldnt feel like the whole set without the movies... Thanks for reading ~ :)
Shortly before the turn of the century the Internet revolutionized the way humans exchange information. In many respects, mankind managed to create a world parallel to our own. There have been countless works of fiction devoted to expounding upon the implications of our inception of virtual reality, the book Neuromancer being among the earliest examples. Human beings, as such fictional works continue to demonstrate, are inherently curious as to what our lives can evolve into if only we were able to directly connect with this intangible network of raw data. As confusing as it is for some to define what "life" and "humanity" are, imagine the complications that would arise if people had to include machine technology into such an equation. Mamoru Oshii directs the film adaptation of Shirow Masamune's original Ghost in the Shell manga, which addresses questions about the meaning of life that will be pertinent for many years to come. Motoko Kusanagi, our protagonist. This review specifically engages the remastered edition of the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell film, hence Ghost in the Shell 2.0. That point aside, the narrative is the same. The film takes place in Japan in the year 2029. At this point in time humans have managed to successfully join human flesh and consciousness into machinery, so much so that many people have at least some form of cybernetic implants within them. The story revolves around Section 9, an anti-terrorism unit tracking down a person attempting to "ghost hack" (take over their consciousness) the interpreter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Section 9 suspects this might be the work of the Puppet Master, an impossibly skillful hacker, and they believe he meant to control the interpreter so that she can kill a foreign diplomat the Minister is scheduled to meet. What Section 9 uncovers about the Puppet Master is what makes the film so profound: the Puppet Master is an artificial intelligence that claims to be sentient. The tale is rather straight-forward and not too complex if one pays close attention to the boring and seemingly irrelevant political jargon the film starts off with. The story is based on several short stories that composed the Ghost in the Shell manga. Those who have read the manga and follow the Ghost in the Shell multimedia franchise come into this film with a slight advantage; Shirow Masamune's vision of the future is rich, with a developed political landscape and technological innovations unimaginable. The only issues newcomers would encounter is the referral to the human consciousness or soul as a "ghost". The term is most often used by Major Motoko Kusanagi, the female protagonist. She constantly follows her intuition or instincts, or in other words, her ghost frequently "whispers" to her and she follows what her ghost is saying. The simple task of switching "ghost" with "consciousness" makes the rest of the film a lot easier to understand. The film deals with some heavy philosophical and ethical themes, which elevates it far above what people normally consider animation to be: childish and without relevance to mature, important matters. Motoko Kusanagi, for example, goes through an existential crisis as she ponders on the myriad cybernetics at work within her body. She doesn't know whether or not her thoughts are really her own or if they are a result of complex programming codes. The moments in which she expresses her frustrations are somewhat unnatural and forced, as if she carefully planned to tell people. The odd dialogue is a consequence of both bad writing and film length, which clocks in at under ninety minutes. It's a shame because Motoko's questions actually address the franchise's concerns about humanity's relation to technology, but in synoptic spurts of dialogue. The Major speaks with the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master's claim to be a sentient life form raises some interesting ethical issues, even if such matters are dated to the Millennial generation. The qualifications for being not only "alive" but also intelligent is a question that biological science and religion claim to have solved long ago. If cyborgs are brought into the argument, generally people can agree upon the notion that a person with technological implants is still in possession of a human "ghost". Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, needs to acquire some seed of "humanity", such as the ability to overcome programming limitations and develop volition, in order for people to consider them as being even remotely alive. This issue is at the heart of many science fiction stories, and will likely remain in the fictional realm for some time because of the lack of actual hyper-advanced AI. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 manages to avoid seeming too dated precisely because many people still see AI sentience as either possible, or at least a narrative treasure trove to be mined until there is nothing to write. The animation for the film is impressive. To be clear, there was nothing particularly wrong with the animation of the first film. The animation in 2.0 however is very clean and sleek, similar to the work done on Dragon Ball Z: Kai. Points of contention for fans of the original Ghost in the Shell film revolve around the color palette, which was originally composed of many cool greens and blues but was traded for warm yellow and orange. The debate is not worth anyone's time and is largely a matter of preference or indifference. Another large change is the inclusion of 3D-CGI. This would also be of little consequence if not for the occasions it is applied to Major Motoko Kusanagi's body. Vehicles are often rendered in CGI in contemporary animation. People are another story entirely. For a character to arbitrarily be rendered in CGI at times is distracting. Batou of Public Security Section 9. The music is the same for both versions of the film, and this was a brilliant decision. The film often features the haunting chants of Japanese folk singers, accompanied by a chime, large drum and deep, atmospheric string instruments. The music often plays as the film shows scenes without dialogue, instead entertaining audiences with panoramic views and visual spectacle. Whether or not the music is meant to evoke an overwhelming sense of dread, solemnity, anxiety or awe depends on an individual's personal attitude regarding the future of man and machine; one may experience all of the aforementioned feelings at the same time. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is both a product of its time and a prophetic view of a feasible future. One thing the film does successfully is simplify the ideas within the original manga, which become incredibly abstract and theoretical towards the end of the story. The philosophical and ethical issues raised in the series are not universally appealing or even interesting to a majority of people, so the simplification of highly intellectual matters should be appreciated. This film, along with works like Akira, helped anime capture the attention of American audiences during the 1990's, when Japanese culture seemed to explode onto the global scene. For more reviews like this one, please visit: http://www.anime-guardians.com/ The Anime Guardians by Nelson Rolon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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