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Okay, I'm giving myself a headache. Let's get to the review.
Cyborg cops battle an anonymous super-hacker who takes control of people's computerized brains and forces them to do his bidding. It's a wicked sci-fi thriller, yet it's also so much more. Not only is it a refreshingly original take on the standard Cops vs Criminals plot, but it manages to do it in such an intelligent manner. At it's core, the movie asks the audience "What is it that makes us Human?" Although it never truly finds an answer (can anyone?), it gets closer to it than any other film has yet dared to go. The best part is, with all the philosphical, existentialist and technical chatter, it never really tries to beat the audience over the head with it. Many of the "big questions" are handled in subtle ways that keep the pace of the film going, while still making the audience think. "Ghost In The Shell" is cyberpunk at it's best.
GitS came out in 1995 and still the visuals can compete with current animation standards. This film has aged extremely well. The action is wicked, every scene is full of atmosphere thanks to well detailed backgrounds, and the limited CGI is well integrated, even in such an early stage of CG animation. Yet the most astonishing part of the art is not the quality of the animation, or the artwork. It's the level of thought and polish that went into creating the look and feel of this film. As an exemple: There is a scene where the heroine, Motoko, is fighting a criminal while wearing a suit that makes her invisible. Even though she is invisble, we can still see her shadow. This is because her invisbility is only an optical illusion. There is still a solid mass blocking the light. It's little details like this one that make the visuals so incredible and, more importantly, believable.
The sounds of the film remain on the same high level as the art. Gunfire, ricochets, explosions, and even all the little computer noises are crisp and well implemented. The music is also quite fitting and original ('Making of a Cyborg', played during the opening credits, is one example). My only gripe is the voice actors are not at their best in this film (of course I mean the english cast). I greatly dislike Motoko's voice (Mimi Woods) and would much prefer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who voiced her in pretty much every other GitS project. The rest of the cast is the same as it is in current GitS projects, but you can tell they weren't as skilled as they are today. Still, they are quite good and it by no means ruins the film.
Though all the characters had aspects that made them interesting, Motoko is really the star of the show here and is the only character who developped over the course of the film. Of course, the direction in which her character went more than makes up for this fact. Throughout the whole film she is struggling with the thought of losing her humanity due to being a cyborg, and it all leads up to an incredible finale that just leaves you in awe.
Now, I'm giving it a 10 for enjoyment, but with an asterix. I personally loved this movie to death due to just how intelligent it is. Unfortunately, it is not an easy film to get into. Very little time is taken to explain how the GitS universe works. For example: The opening scene has Motoko speaking telepathically with Batou, who's nowhere to be scene. The film never really takes the time to explain how this is done, but you do manage to draw your own conclusions once you get your first glimpse of a cyberbrain. Unfortunately, much of the film relies on just how quickly the audience can put together the little details of the world and storyline. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can make things needlessly complicated and actually alienate viewers who may not have the patience to put together the pieces of this techno-puzzle. Luckily, the principle story is simple enough, and the action is good enough so that viewers can still have fun with it. Basically, it can leave you feeling pretty stupid, but you still pat yourself on the back for seeing it through to the end. And don't be surprised if you want to watch it a second time.
With great action and an intelligent narative, "Ghost In The Shell" is a classic. It inspired "The Matrix", and anyone who has seen that film will know how great of a compliment that is. If you're into philosophical discussions about the soul and the consequences of technological evolution, see this film. If you just want to see a bunch of cyborg cops shooting stuff up, see this film. You will not be disapointed. read more