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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I went to this movie worried that it
would end up like just about every Peter Framptom Album after Frampton
Comes Alive; they were all pitiful albums only because Frampton comes
alive did not leave much room for improvement. The original Ghost in
The Shell is a classic. It was a good action film that had some deep
undertones. Well made to say the least, full of memorable characters.
Ghost in the Shell 2 was so different that there could be no comparison. As opposed to an Action film with deep undercurrents, this is a philosophical film that occasionally had some action sequences. The basic plot is very simple: Android created for pleasure killing their owners. Cyborg cops trying to get to the bottom of these strange crimes. The cops, section nine operatives Batou and Togusa spend more time quoting everything from Bazooka Joe to Milton as long as it serves a purpose. This is not Ghost in the Shell. This is a Mamorou Oshii original, with his own ideas and philosophies not being bound by the original manga.
I venture to say that I actually prefer Innocence to the first one, because it struck chords in me the first one did not. Somebody who has a different outlook on everything, however, would disagree. If you have seen the first one, remember how there is more or less a quest for humanity? THis one takes an opposite spin on things. As well as takes a look at how humans feel this need to immortalize their own image.
The animation was enough to prove that traditional and computer animation could work together and create a beautiful picture. However, the underwater and in air scenes seemed to rely too heavily on the computers, which then completely made up the world. The world itself was not the world I remember from Ghost in the Shell. THis was a whole new futuristic world as opposed to a slightly more advanced modern setting. This film also focused a lot on the relationship between Batou and the now 'missing' Kusanagi.
This film seemed to be lost on many. There are many scenes of complete silence, which are intended as 'breathing time' and and other points really to build tension. The film also slows down at a few points so that the audience can absorb the scenery, and gives extra time for the audience to catch the symbolism. The film ended with so many angry groans. It would seen that the film was lost upon those who wanted to see a sequel to Ghost in the Shell with the same themes and ideas. The only similarity to the first film would be that most of the story is superficial, and what the film is really about is the deeper meanings.
This was an excellent film, and though it can be seen as superior, it will never be as well known and recognized as the first film. Though this is not just a sequel: This is a whole new Ghost in the Shell altogether.
**** out of ****
I agree with an earlier reviewer that both hardcore Oshii fans and
narrow-minded American viewers are missing the point by not viewing
this movie on its own terms. In many ways, it's more thoroughly
conceived, and less action-justified (more thoughtful) than Ghost in
the Shell. For me, it progressed naturally from its predecessor: Where
Ghost in the Shell asks questions about the nature of human
individuality, Innocence asks the next set of questions, about human
existence. And it asks them in ways so much more directly pertinent to
our own lives than utterly fantastic treatments like the Matrix films
and silly diversions like The Butterfly Effect.
The ideas of the story are genuinely original, and thoroughly conceived. I don't think I've ever seen a science fiction film that was as true to the real spirit of the genre as this pair; Japan in general seems to take science fiction much more seriously than any western film-culture, and so out of Japan we get real, serious attempts to tell science-fictional stories, filled with real ideas and real characters, instead of the Bat-Durstonized monstrosities we get in the west.
For me, the integration of 2D and 3D elements was jarring; but the story stands on its ideas and the strength of its plot.
On the same page, this movie is called both "Intellectually Weak," and
"In love with its own intelligence" by different IMDb users. Clearly,
that alone makes this film worth your time and worth forming your own
The thing is, this is not a stupid film by any means. 'Visually stunning,' it is constantly called, but it's not just that: It's an assault on the senses (in a good way), both visually and aurally. The sound is incredible, the images stick with you. Even a simple, seemingly underthought image like the final two shots of the movie will stick with you long after the closing credits roll.
But how is the story? I haven't seen the original in years, but this one held my attention, and kept my brain engaged. I remember not liking the first one when I first saw it (too many scenes of nothing moving, while we listened to voice-over), but I give this one an enthusiastic thumbs up, plus a wink and a smile. It FEELS like the middle chapter in a story... there is too much left unresolved, and while seeing the first one isn't necessary to understanding this one, there ARE many references the original "Ghost in the Shell." It's not so much a continuation of the story, as it is a continuation of the characters. Which I think is the better call.
Constant quotes from literature is not a sign of intellectual weakness, I don't think. People accuse the movie of not having a brain of its own, but I think any movie that engages the brain of its audience needn't make apologies. This one remains interesting on all levels; I just hope it doesn't take them another nine years to produce part three.
A new Japanese cyberpunk masterpiece that makes the original GiTS look
primitive by comparison. Mamoru Oshii and his crew did a masterful job
creating a worthy successor to their 1995 adaptation of Masamune
Shirow's original manga.
As in the original movie as well as in that other quintessential proto-cyberpunk movie, Blade Runner the movie explores human nature in a world that is becoming more technological all the time, to a point where people ARE technology, the boundaries are rapidly fading away. What does it mean to be human? If we join with technology, would we become something else? Should we welcome it, or fear it? Will humanity lose or gain from the changes?
After the events of the first movie, Major Motoko Kusanagi has seemingly disappeared; focus of the second movie has shifted to Bateau, who is still working for the secret government "Section 9". This is by no means a bad thing, since Bateau is at least as interesting a character as Kusanagi ever was. Going beyond your basic cyberpunk cyborg tough guy with attitude, he is very intelligent, and has some nice human touches (like the dog he loves taking care of). At various points he and other characters routinely indulge in philosophical debate, often quoting literature, from Milton to biblical psalm verses. Just to say this isn't your typical sci-fi action movie, although there is some action, and when it comes, it's fast, brutal & violent.
The actual plot involves an incident with a sophisticated robotic "pleasure model", if you will, gone berserk. The investigation leads us through the darker parts of near-future Japanese society, including yakuza, companies with questionable ethics, and mysterious hackers.
Visually, the movie is stunningly beautiful, using a combination of traditional cell animation and state of the art CGI. Many of the movie's backgrounds are gorgeous to just look at; even dark and dirty back alleys are shown so rich in color and detail, you could gaze at them all day. Like in the first movie, Oshii lets the movie halt at times, immersing the viewer in the richly detailed world he created. Many of the computer screen readouts resemble those seen in Oshii's "Avalon" a lot which again is not a bad thing, as they look both high-tech and yet elegant & artistic.
Last but not least, the music by Kenji Kawai is hauntingly beautiful, adding more layers to the sophisticated richness of it all.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Anyone who likes science fiction, anyone who was blown away by movies such as Blade Runner and of course the first "Ghost in the Shell" (which you should see before watching this one) will enjoy this.
The first thing that must be said about this film, is that the visuals and imagery are breathtaking. Yet it does not rely solely on our awe. The plot, although very complicated and often convoluted, is rich and laden with allegories, philosophy, analysis and even theology. At first glance, the characters appear to be static and somewhat stoic, but when one thinks about it, the characters are that way to represent the similarities we share with "dolls." Does an effigy infused with meaning and symbol constitute as a being on it's own accord? Or are we simply defined by the mere fact that we are alive? The film is laden with imagery suggesting the war/hybridization of: nature vs. machines/synthetic life, how machines mimic nature, how tradition becomes assimilated by it, and how reality may or may not be a virtual construct based on our own perspective. This is an intellectual, symbolic film that not only gives eye-candy galore, but also delivers more cerebral fare than most films. Although the characters are ultimately forgettable (save the expressive dog owned by Bateau,) one can perceive that too as being a tool to suggest that ultimately, we are all drones living our predictable lives...perhaps unaware of more intricate powers and forces surrounding us. Whether you watch this film for the state-of-the-art visuals or the perceivably potent content, I recommend this film enthusiastically for anyone who would like to think...or just say "ah" at the incredible scenery.
I just got through watching this film and it amazed me. I agree with
the previous post that Innocence is full of philosophy, Descartes is
even mentioned by name, and this is by no means a negative.
Constant rhetorical statements within the film make you think which is very refreshing.
Nothing whatsoever to do with the first film, which i am a fan of, but isn't improvement a good thing? Who wants to see a rewritten film anyway? Look elsewhere for films like that, I'm thinking Cruel intentions 1, 2 & 3 etc etc etc I might even like this more than 'Akira', but ill see if i manage to watch Innocence another 14 times and still love it...
I would highly recommend this film to anyone, not just Anime/Manga fans.
On the surface this is the story of an investigation of sex bots that
kill, in reality this is an examination of what it means to be alive
and to experience the world. Its a head trip.
I'm finding it hard to express what I feel about this film. Visually this film pushes animation and visual story telling to new places. I know that some of the look of this film can be found in video games but never has the current state of art on many levels been brought together to rattle, nay destroy, the cage of the status quo. Much of this film had my jaw hanging open, often with tears welling up at the beauty of the imagery. This film rocks and then some. The computer generated worlds of Immortel and Sky Captain are blown away by the magic worked here.
The plot is too murky. Frankly, I was lost half way into the movie as to what the plot was, however I was seriously getting off on the visuals and most of all the ideas that were being batted about. How do we know whats real and what isn't? This film makes it very clear that we can never know, nor can we know what it is to be alive. Certainly not all of it works but enough does, and all I can say is wow.
I have no idea how to adequately rate this film. I'm sure some people will find it form over substance and others will think little of the visuals. Me they rocked my world and I gave it a 9 out of 10, but I'll add that your mileage may vary.
The artwork in this is simply gorgeous. It is without a doubt one of
the most visually engaging animes ever created. From start to finish
the animation is pure excellence.
The story focuses around a murder investigation. It quickly gets very strange and hard to follow as many animes seem to do. However, if you don't try to over analyze it, it is really just a cool sci-fi detective story. Some of the characters are continued from the first movie which is rewarding to those who have seen it, but won't confuse everyone else.
This is a beautiful anime that will be enjoyed by both long time anime fans, and even first time viewers.
I feel a little guilty talking about this movie right now. It's a
little like going to class without having fully digested the previous
night's reading assignment. Sure, you read it through fairly deeply.
You take notes. Maybe you had a midnight BS session with your roommate
or the kid down the hall.
Maybe you were a little drunk. For whatever reason, you think you might have missed something important. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us That's more or less Ghost in the Shell 2's 100 minute running time in a . . . ghostshell. It doesn't help that the dialogue is in subtitles (the way it should be) and the animation is some of the most beautiful I've seen since . . . ever. Your eyes pull double duty, straining to digest polysyllabic words stacked 10 deep while soaking up animation of unrivaled scope and grandeur. Beauty and the Beast has nothing on this.
It's a much more assured and revelatory work than it's 1995 predecessor.
Credit Mamoru Oshii with improving upon every facet of an already intelligent and fascinating premise. Yes. Everything is better.
Much of the first Ghost in the Shell felt like a fleshing out of the various philosophical topics woven into the game of Artificial Intelligence. It was about debunking the line of demarcation between man and machine. It was about finding something unique in humanity amidst the clamour of our technological near-future. Oshii was struggling with this right alongside his characters, and it showed in a somewhat lackluster visual presentation, a jumbled thesis, and a messy ending. The plot itself, a techno-noir murder mystery, felt tacked on. Still, the original Ghost in the Shell was something to behold.
In the 9 years that have passed though, Oshii definitely did his homework. In a time when everyone needs a kickass firewall for that lumpy grey mass between their ears, knowledge is immediately available to all, and the section nine detectives Batou and Matoko use all the net has to offer in contemplating their place in the vast, jacked-in world they inhabit.
They drop anecdotes about Descartes, quote Confuscious, the Old Testament, reference Rabbi Judah Low ben Bezalel and the Golem of Prague. They quote Milton. I studied English literature and I can't quote Milton.
But then, maybe it takes someone like Milton, someone with sympathy for the devil, to live as a human in a world where men are ever more becoming mechanized, and the machines they build take on the characteristics of their creators.
Maybe it took Oshii a few years slogging through the quagmire of western skepticism and self-doubt to realize that.
The plot this time--another nod to noir--is more focused and accessible, except for the beginning of the third act, when someone hacks Matou's brain. Things get a little fuzzy then, but they're supposed to.
I don't believe the philosophy involved can totally reveal itself in one sitting. Certainly, trying to flesh it out here would be pointless and boring. Suffice it to say that in Oshii's future, humanity has angst to spare and it looks like things are only getting worse.
Even the animation choices reflect a feeling of alienation, and shows such painstaking love on the part of Oshii. The movie is dominated by advanced computer graphics and lush matte paintings for its backgrounds and many of the dolls (see also: robots, see also: gynoids, see also: sexroids etc, etc). Cars, library Stacks, great post-apocalyptic landscapes are by turns vivid and dingy and exploding with detail. They burst off the screen. Batou and Matoko and the rest of the humans (as well as the gynoids who have been given ghosts [souls]), in contrast, are cell animated the old fashioned way. In this environment they seem helplessly two dimensional, out of place and almost inferior--which is just the way they actually feel. And when a gynoid, through pursed lips and with seductive langour, pleads "help me," the hackles on your neck are at full attention. Brilliant.
I took notes during this movie. I felt compelled to. I think I'm going to find some pop-culture doctoral program and write my thesis on it. The depth and breadth and sheer complexity of the imagery and symbolism in Ghost in the Shell 2 is crippling. It feels at times like Heart of Darkness, but is careful to remain far less turgid and depressing. It fully warrants a second or third viewing, to mine the depth of what Oshii is offering.
At a time when the vast majority of films--even art-house flicks--opt for allegorical poverty rather than alienate potential ticket sales, it's all the more refreshing to see a beautiful, self-assured movie that's content to do more talking--about Milton for godsake--than shooting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possible spoilers within, although I wouldn't worry too much about it.
I will be the first to admit that the original Ghost in the Shell (GITS) is one of my favorite movies and so I was not exactly a hard sell on this film.
That being said, GITS2 (or Innocence) is both a fine sequel and film in its own right.
Thankfully, no real extensive knowledge is required to view Innocence. I enjoyed Bateau as a supporting player in the first movie and felt he made a fine protagonist here. Although it will help to have seen the first GITS, for those new to the franchise I think there is some real pleasure to be had in the development of Bateau as his own man, as opposed to a mere sidekick (totally bad-ass though he may have been). The sidekick this time around is Togusa, a mostly human ex-detective handpicked for Section 9 by the now missing Major Motoko Kusanagi. A nice touch is the addition of the traditional Oshii Beagle (the dog) as a real character, not just an enigmatic set piece. Actually, I think the dog is the single most realistic depiction of an animal I've ever seen in animation, Japanese or otherwise. Funny and cute, too.
If you liked the visuals in GITS, Innocence should blow you away. The traditional animation is smooth and detailed, while the CGI is absolutely stunning. The colors are wonderful, ranging from a washed out sepia coloring in some aerial shots to dark but rich tones in several night scenes to amazingly vibrant and bright colors in a fantastic parade scene. The music has also been improved. Kenji Kawai reworks much of it to produce an evolved score that is reminiscent of GITS's slow, lyrical one, but original enough to be extremely engaging. For example, the vocal and string piece that is the signature song of GITS has been changed around and now has an energetic Japanese drum element that greatly picks up the tempo and really brings it to life.
Another new component that Innocence adds is some humor (however oblique it may be) that was mostly missing in GITS. Some of the interaction between the Section 9 members is quite amusing, as in later on in the movie when, after Togusa has rattled off one too many quotes, Bateau tells him he can barely understand their conversation, with all the obscure references and all. It is Bateau's dog, however, that is responsible for much of this humor. Most of it is visual, but it's reactions and interactions with Bateau are so real as to be almost absurd. I wish I could be clearer, but it really has to be seen to be believed.
The action in Innocence is also great, with fantastic pacing and cinematography. The martial arts look convincing and the blows really seem to have weight and power behind them. The gunfights, while few and far in between, are fast paced and actually quite inventive in how they play out. I don't want to ruin any surprises, so you'll have to check it out for yourself. In a very nice touch, the sound effects over all were well done. Blows sound solid and painful, as opposed to the wimpy "swish paft" style of the Matrix, and guns are as loud and imposing as in real life.
I also want to touch on several criticisms of the film. The most relevant being that Innocence is mostly a rehash of other Oshii films. I think this is relatively valid, as the movie closely resembles the TV series, virtually steals several scenes from Oshii's live action Avalon and has a plot very similar to that of GITS. On the other hand, Oshii, like many other great directors (Kurosawa, Spielburg, Kubrick, etc.), has themes and devices that often appear in his work and should only interfere with viewing enjoyment if you get hung up on them. I mean, does Miyazaki get knocked for almost always having a flying scene in his wonderful movies? Of course not.
The other decent criticism is that the story is too hard to follow and filled with too much philosophy. To a certain extent this is true and both Oshii and Shirow, whose manga forms the bases for GITS and Innocence, have a long history of using complex, almost Byzantine plots mixed with philosophical musings. What is also common in both creators work is the accompanying struggle by the characters to deal with these maddening situations, which is where I think Innocence shines. Bateau is a person so heavily modified (which provides, I think, the best hidden weapon scene in any movie since Robocop) that he doesn't even bother having his cybernetic eyes resemble the real McCoy, a decidedly creepy and unique characteristic. As with Kusanagi in GITS, there is the distinct possibility that he too has lost his humanity, if he was ever human at all and not simply a robot with a false memory. Is it any wonder such a person is given to reading and reference philosophy discussing the meaning of identity? Togusa, on the other hand, has only some brain modification and remains mostly biologically human. This makes him so completely outclassed by his partner and many of the enemies they face that he seems more of a burden in many situations that an asset. His fear for himself and his family, as he makes increasingly powerful enemies, is utterly realistic and understandable, as is his concern that he can never live up to the standards set by Kusanagi.
Yes, Innocence is flawed but if you go with an open mind, wanting to be entertained rather than enlightened, I think there is enough to please almost any viewer. One of my personal favorites, but please find out for yourself.
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