It's basically "Blade Runner" in Japan, but considering how "Blade Runner" is both the greatest film Ridley Scott ever made and a perennial classic of science-fiction and dystopia, that's not necessarily a bad thing. For one, the sound and visual cues draw heavily from "Blade Runner" and the art direction is practically a re-skin. That being said, it looks and sounds gorgeous, and much like its inspiration, "Ghost in the Shell" is an enormously absorbing, hauntingly atmospheric experience.
The similarities between "Blade Runner" and "Ghost in the Shell" are not merely aesthetic, though; both works make humanity their primary focus -- specifically the question of what it means to be a human. Whereas "Blade Runner" takes an emotional, spiritual, perhaps even transcendental approach to the question, however, "Ghost in the Shell" follows a more cerebral bent. Let's consider the following: if you had the choice between preserving either your physical self or your mental self, which would you choose? Most of us would choose the latter, I imagine, for two reasons: on the one hand, roaming around as a mindless husk for the rest of your days doesn't sound like a particularly appealing fate, and on the other hand identity is an entirely mental quality -- a sort of psychological continuity comprised of a linear set of stages and the memories of those stages. When viewed in this light, the body becomes little more than a shell that houses the mind or the soul -- the ghost, if you will. Hence the title.
But enough about matters of identity. The film probes into these questions quite well, and though it doesn't offer any clear-cut answers, it doesn't have to. The challenges to our understanding of identity presented by this fictional world allow for ample inquiry into the nature of identity -- but again, this isn't really the ideal place to discuss such matters (that, and my mind is a little too frazzled to really get in-depth with any of this). With that in mind, I guess I'll move on to the obligatory run-down of each category.
It's nothing special, honestly. The premise is fascinating and the plot intriguing, but it flashes by too quickly to really absorb you. That, and the plot really isn't the primary focus of the film. The plot serves more as a vehicle for the ideas than anything else. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, since the questions it raises are piercing and worthy of consideration.
Stunning. Atmospheric. Again, highly evocative of Blade Runner. Like a neon dream. Not as absorbing as "Blade Runner," but then again, no sci-fi world has ever managed to captivate me like Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick's vision of Los Angeles did.
The voice acting is passable, but the music is outstanding. The visuals and the music together achieve a palpable atmosphere.
The characters in "Ghost in the Shell" are fleshed out far better in "Stand Alone Complex" given the fact that the film doesn't even last a full ninety minutes. The Major is the only interesting character of the bunch.
Again, it's the Japanese "Blade Runner." What's not to like?
As a feat of storytelling, it's not very tightly or compellingly told. As an audiovisual and cerebral experience, you'll find few things that surpass it in the realm of animation. read more