Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) Poster

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For those who rather see the characters waxing philosophical for an hour....
Newski_the_Hippie20 September 2004
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 ****
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10/10
Visually Stunning, Brain Recommended But Not Required
Quicksand26 September 2004
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 opinion about.

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.

10/10
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9/10
Strong sequel that stands on its own
escoles2 January 2005
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.
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10/10
Amazing
pulpfiction19815 March 2005
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.
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9/10
Impressive sequel to an anime cyberpunk classic
Sentinel-159 January 2005
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.
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10/10
A visually stunning journey through ethics and philosophy of artificial intelligence.
Naturezrevenge9 December 2004
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.
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9/10
Visually Revolutionary, Even if the Plot is Murky
dbborroughs16 October 2004
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.
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9/10
One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Ulfric19 February 2005
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.
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Best specialized robot name ever: Gynoid
lukebaumgarten22 September 2004
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.
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5/10
The first part was a lot better
dex_905 August 2007
To start with, the beginning of the movie and especially the technology and animations it is done with are a lot more advanced, which could be expected about 10 years after the first part was made. But the plot (in my opinion) can't hold up with it's predecessor and especially the last 2/3rds of this movie gets to be full of pseudo-philosophical BS where the two protagonists decide to quote "great men of history" about every 3rd spoken sentence (which surprisingly didn't happen in Part 1 a lot), which also kind of adds a lot of absurdity to it. Besides of that I also liked the character development in the first part a lot more.

All in all a pretty decent Anime, but not more than a 5/10 from me.
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6/10
The Shell Is On But Is There A Ghost Home?
benjamin_lappin22 August 2007
Influential animation director Mamoru Oshii returns with a follow up to the impressive if disjointed Ghost In The Shell, which to be frank is even more impressive and possibly even more disjointed than its predecessor. Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence is a creation of great beauty, intelligent thought that throws up some very interesting, sensible and above all engaging points on which to debate the nature of humanity, what constitutes being human? When are we deemed as being alive? However, for all the reasoned debate Ghost In The Shell 2 unfortunately follows and falls into the trap so many Eastern stories ( in particular many mangas and anime) do, which is an incoherent storyline, which proves the ultimate irony seeing as how this a film which engages your mind, you're forced to switch it off in places and just 'go with the flow'.

Innocence is an extremely visual film, and you will be awed into watching from a seamless combination of 2D and 3D animation techniques which to be frank makes Sky Blue look like the work of a preschooler. It is simply ravishing and you find yourself hooked intently and intensely to what is simply a blisteringly well constructed piece of animation, and is worth a viewing by all fans of the genre on this basis alone. But is that enough?

Well, to be honest, no it is not. As with Sky Blue the animation was painstakingly created over a long period of time, and as with Sky Blue the plot suffered slightly for it. Yes the philosophy is interesting, poignant and it does make you think, this I am not denying, but it's sometimes thrown around complete uncontextualised, just for philosophy's sake. I'm not arguing against the introduction of philosophy and metaphysics into the medium of films, I'm all for it, but when characters are throwing around Descartes name like he's going out of fashion instead of developing what little plot there is within the film, it does tend to lend itself to the criticism that this film is for pubescents coming of age who wish to "expand their minds". Mamoru Oshii is an influential director and his works have always included a degree of philosophy, mostly he tends to tackle the constructs of humanity and reality and the link between the two, can one define another? are the two linked at all? can one survive without the other? However, the original Ghost In The Shell was philosophy crammed, and yes again the story had an air of incoherency about it, but the philosophy was not driving the narrative, the narrative was driving the philosophy, and this is where the sequel fails in its intent.

Ghost In The Shell 2 is indeed impressive, but seeing as it was co-produced at the remarkable Studio Ghibli and was a "selection" for the Cannes film festival you can be forgiven for asking for something with a bit more bite to it. There are a great number of positives to take away from this experience, as the animation is impeccable, it is so sublime, it just makes it so fantastically easy to slip into the world and enjoy the feast, and yes a summary can't be made without a nod in the direction of the thought put into this film. However, If you'll forgive this rather audacious metaphor, think of this film as a sandwich, and all this wonderful philosophy provides the contents, the filler, the real taste to go inside this sandwich. Think of the most ridiculously packed sandwich you could possibly imagine, with everything on it, and then imagine no bread with which to hold it all together.
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Pretentious as hell, but undeniably beautiful
simon_booth8 November 2004
As the saying goes, "you don't have to have a degree in philosophy to enjoy Ghost In The Shell, but it helps". Well, I'm sure it's a saying in some circles anyway :) Mamoru Oshii has always been a pretentious director, but also a very talented one. The original Ghost In The Shell and his live-action Avalon in particular can be viewed as much as philosophical essays as they can action-driven films. However, in those two he is content to use the philosophical ideas as a foundation to build the film's story and aesthetics on, as layers to ponder if you are familiar with the ideas and inclined to ponder. In INNOCENCE, perhaps he was afraid people wouldn't understand the philosophical references, so he makes them very explicit - characters respond to almost every event that happens with a quote from Descartes or Milton or some other respected source. In the end one is forced to conclude that this is less to help the viewer understand the philosophical ideas in the film as to make sure everybody knows how well read Oshii is (I don't think the quotes would help anybody understand the ideas that wasn't already familiar with them). In other words, he lays it on a bit too thick for his own good... yet from a first viewing at least the film seems to have less of real substance to say than part 1 or AVALON. Neither of those films presented any real answers or new theories, but they were very effective artistic framings of the questions they addressed at least. INNOCENCE perhaps seems like it's trying to offer answers and explanations for issues that do not really amean themselves to answering, but more to a thorough considering of the questions and an abandoning of pre-conceptions based on a very narrow perspective (that of human existence).

But, criticisms aside, Oshii also knows that the audience is not really there to hear a lecture on philosophy - they want to be dazzled with the highest possible production values and animation standards, and he does not disappoint. The work from Production IG exceeds even their own incredibly high quality standards, and the soundtrack from Kenji Kawai complements the visuals perfectly. If the scene where the film's title is accompanies a surreal parade through a desolate high-tech urban landscape doesn't send chills down your spine then... well, that's your business, but I am surprised. It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot or any particularly clear point regarding the philosophy, but it's an aesthetic thrill of the highest order. Oshii knows that the viewer is expecting some action with his philosophy too, and the film offers a few scenes of shockingly powerful violence (especially with a big screen and modern cinema sound system). They're inserted almost arbitrarily though (there is an attempt to make one of the middle scenes more meaningful, but the climactic scenes especially have little point except the celebration of destruction). The first film's action scenes were a huge influence on THE MATRIX, and through that film were highly influential on world cinema in general - Oshii probably wanted to make sure his newest and costliest film would not go unremarked on this front too.

Conclusion: the film must be admitted as flawed, but what Oshii work isn't?

The first GITS was the closest to flawless he has come, and part 2 definitely doesn't put him any closer. It does raise the bar aesthetically though, and is the new benchmark for animators to beat.
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1/10
tedium
timknight2954 March 2006
Low in atmosphere, characterisation and storyline, high in tedium and high through the roof in pretentiousness. This is a massively overrated film. This film pretends to be deep and complex but in fact is just shallow nonsense. I think maybe the writers weren't even trying to make it deep and complex they just wanted to make a film that appeared deep and complex, so people would think it was. Someone else described the plot as 'murky' I'd describe it as boring, meaningless nonsense. Anyone who thinks this film is as 'amazing' as it pretends to be is a fool in my opinion. This film is a tedious waste of time. The philosophical stuff is a lot of pretentious crap as well.
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2/10
Ego Trip
greggman7 March 2004
I saw this movie hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I got the worst.

I'm sure the anime otaku for whom anything anime, anything Japanese, anything Mamoru are untouchable will love this movie. They will read deep meaning into lines that really have none and into ideas that have been covered far far to often and much better already by more talented writers and directors.

But, let's just get into the technical parts first.

We all know one joke about Japanese animation is it's not animated. Japanese animation is the art of making a story with as little animation as possible. Cut to an image of the moon during dialog so nothing has to be animated. Cut again to their feet. Then there are the shortcuts, only animate the mouth, walks are 2 steps, use lots of panning shots, animate only machines, smoke and explosions since they are far easier to animate.

Well, this movie more than any anime I've seen recently takes those things to extremes. It's like it was actually written to use as little animation as possible. A couple of the characters are robots and when they talk their voice comes out of a speaker in their mouth so they just open their mouth (or not) and the voice comes out. No animation needed. In some of those same scenes, even the human's mouths stop moving.

The movie is padded as well. There were severals 5 - 10 second scenes where nothing moved and there was no dialog as well, it was just padding. And it wasn't even for dramatic pause or even paused on some impressive visual.

Then there was the artistic masturbation scenes. There was at least one 10 minute long (well it felt like 10 minutes) of a Chinese parade. It had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the story, the movie, the plot, nothing. It was only there to show off art. It was pretty but it was also completely boring since it had no relation to anything.

There were several other scenes like this. Long scenes to show off art most of which were pointless and in fact they just are not impressive anymore. How many thousand neo-Tokyos with giant skyscrappers etc have we already seen? It's lost its effect.

Another sad part, although the setting is some future Neo-Tokyo all the cars are early 20th century. Can anybody say "Highlander 2". Sure they are pretty cars but they make no sense at all. It **might** and that's a big **might** make sense if one character was a car collector and had an old car but in this movie all cars are pre-1940. Some artist might think that's cool but in the movie it's just a distraction because it is so clearly unbelievable.

The best (and only good part) of this movie is the dog. The dog is actually animated. Although having almost nothing to do with the story.

My suggestion, avoid this movie. Don't reward this kind of ego trip.
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5/10
Guilty...of being pretentious.
DrSmooth21 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Here's the really quick and dirty summary:

If you count the first Ghost in the Shell in amongst your top movies off all time, see this one, you'll like it.

If you enjoy watching the TV Series, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, do NOT watch this movie. You will pine for the days when Togusa wasn't a little fraidy cat, and makes non-enhanced humanity respectable.

Here's the more in-depth version:

I thought Ghost in the Shell, the first movie was decent. It was made better by the fact that they had a pretty enjoyable video game that followed it up, but I'm not one of those people that would consider using the word "masterpiece" to describe it without using "not" in the same sentence.

As far as this film, it could do with a bit of dialogue. Apparently, Oshii doesn't understand the difference between having a conversation, and playing a game of "Pretentious Quote Battle 2: Electric Boogaloo". Somewhere along the line he must have gotten the idea that perhaps the audience wouldn't understand how smart his films was supposed to be, so he has the characters repeat the same concepts over and over again, just quoting different authors.

What makes this so horrendously annoying is that the film's concept is so simple. The heart of the film is the question of existence. What is is and do these malfunctioning robots have it? If so, does that cheapen humanity because humanity is capable of being broken down into 1s and 0s?

While this may seem like a spoiler, it's fully explained within the first 10 minutes of the movie, and done so over and over every 5-10 minutes after then, each time with an exchange of literary quotations. Heck, Batou even tells Togusa that it's hard to follow his conversation since all he does is sport random quotes. When you have THAT many quotes in a movie, it's time to rewrite the dialogue...perhaps giving some of the characters their OWN lines.

The movie IS visually stunning, however, it is only that, and the little bits of fun piecing together the connections between this movie and the first that make this movie barely worth seeing. Barely.

5/10.
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7/10
An Okay Sequel To A Great Original
stephenabell29 March 2017
This sequel doesn't come anywhere near the original in either story, atmosphere, artwork, or provocativeness. From the onset, the viewer is slammed with a philosophical quandary, this is given by the cyber- coroner and feels so out of context that it appears forced. Whereas, in the original, it was subtly woven throughout the film and its context. You just don't get that here.

I don't know if this is Disney's influence at work... The first film was a little convoluted, though, with a little brain power you could figure it out. For "Innocence" they give it to the audience in black and white.

Then you have the appearance of digital artwork, fused and mixed with the more original. For most of the time, this works, though it does have less effect on building atmosphere, as does the setting and direction of the scene. The worst scenes containing digital art are the cars driving down the street. The street backgrounds are dark with a mat lustre, howbeit, the cars are ultra shiny bright metallic. The reflections flowing over the surface of the car doesn't tally with their surroundings. This draws the viewer out of the story to register the imperfection of the scene, this hurts the movie as you want your viewer to feel as though they are apart of the story and not a third party just watching.

The story was a nice follow-up, even though I don't think is was told all that well. Something is happening to the sex-bots! For some reason, they are malfunctioning and killing their owners and whoever's in the vicinity before committing suicide. Section Nine is called in as this could be an act of terrorism since robots cannot kill humans or themselves.

Under better hands, this could have been as great as the original film had they decided to entwine the philosophy, the mystery and thriller elements, and mood and ambiance into the story and artwork instead of segregating them and lessening the power of the piece.

Worth watching if you've seen the original but be warned it's not as good.
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10/10
Stunning,beautiful masterpiece
shusei8 March 2004
I have seen this film just tree days ago. The first impression after the screening was "It may be too early, maybe for 20 or 30 years." Oshii and his crew achieved unbelievable images, telling a very simple story with complex details of the future. The story is set in 2032, but it seems to be in 22-th century, judging from the technology. If you like hardcore SF novels by Greg Egan or by Greg Bear, or Oshii's other films--I'm sure you will love it and will see it again and again. The film has already enchanted many Japanese viewers only for three days. Of course, there are people who actively hate it, maybe from jealousy of too simple people. But those who has fallen in love with it--say that they will see it two or three times on the screen. It seems that I am one of them. Though it is produced as "Ghost in the Shell 2", its artistic level is much higher and the direction is more delicate. For this beautiful film, I can use the word "Masterpiece".
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6/10
Pictures at an exhibition
deastman_uk18 February 2005
Do not dwell too long on my rating: its just that this is a work of art masquerading as a film. What we get here is not really a cogent motion picture, more a set of themed scenes and ideas presented as a story. This is the source material that other films will use to make the more familiar Hollywood entertainment. If you want to chew popcorn, go watch "I Robot". Stay here for sumptuous animation combined with philosophy.

Batou returns as the cyborg cop, continuing his job in Section 9 picking up the pieces of crimes committed in the corporate / political sphere that is just an extreme version of our own world. Eastwood like, he is seen as trouble by his new cop partner. But the old Major is never far away, accompanying him as a guardian angel.

Unlike other landmark efforts like "Spirited Away", there are a variety of styles used - sometimes heavily modelled, sometimes detailed animation. This is done with little concern for continuity - its much like walking through a gallery.

There are some issues with the English subtitles; the characters quote so often that its a moot point to use quotation marks. Its one of the few details that diminish the film as a work of art - and vice versa.

You have to own this, there is no point seeing it once. There are few context clues to what you are watching. A little more effort is used to explain "external memory", and what being hacked actually means. A character actually says, "is this reality now?" which is sufficient warning that you may need to examine the next picture to understand the last.
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1/10
Tragically boring
xiaoeno13 March 2005
Some science fiction movies get it right. They mix interesting and novel science with fantastical-but-semi-plausible plots, and then round out the edges with a little philosophizing on the nature of man and machine and whatnot. Some science fiction movies get it wrong, and end up with uninteresting science, ridiculous plots, and way too much philosophizing. The latter Matrices gave us case-in-point examples of science fiction gone wrong. Ghost in the Shell was a good movie that got the formula right, and had good animation to boot. Ghost in the Shell 2 gets the formula wrong, badly, and the animation, which very good, is awkward for its combination of CGI, live action and hand-drawn animation. Basically, it's really boring.

Consider the following: 1) While Ghost in the Shell had interesting riffs on cyberspace and cybernetics, Ghost in the Shell 2 has a lot of Star Trekkish jargon about networks that adds little to the basic framework. There is actually a sequence of scenes that apparently consisted of human-shaped machines, hooked into other machines, talking about what was going on in their networks. I'm not sure who thought that long periods of still shots of blooping machinery with voiceovers would be equivalent to climactic action, but they were wrong.

2) Anime movies often have plots that make no sense. Like in Jin-Roh: Wolf Brigade, where everyone at some point is like, Oh well, I don't think there is a plot at all, but those drawings sure are darn nice to look at. You can't do this in Ghost in the Shell 2 because a) the pictures aren't that nice to look at, and b) the movie is trying so hard to maintain a cohesive plot that you want to try along with it. There are long periods where the writer clearly wanted the audience to be confused, so you would naturally assume that it would be explained. So you listen to what the characters say afterwards, but become frustrated at how reasons are hedged with made-up technology and a lot of talk about dolls.

3) The success of the first Ghost seems to have convinced the writer that he is now free to expound upon his topics of interest at length and the viewer will remain entertained. While there are interesting topics touched on here, albeit somewhat clichéd and overused ones, actual reflection has been passed over in favor of an astounding number of random quotes, ranging from the Bible, to John Milton, to some that may have been overheard on the street. I may be a philistine, but it seemed as if there was no greater plan tying these quotes together than the simple goal of having a lot of quotes, and the result borders on the inane. Especially because almost every character in the film is a complete and utter nihilist, delivering their lines as if they had long ago resigned themselves to death, the dialogue becomes intensely uninteresting. And I wouldn't hold my breath for badass action scenes to pick it up, either—most of the time the only punctuation to these listless conversations is the whizzing of some random mechanical part.

This is all very sad because clearly there were high aspirations for this movie. The animation is very well intricate, and at times almost awe-inspiring. The movie keeps its own pace, and the characters stay true to form. It's possible that a lot of these complaints are the product of awful, awful subtitling, and it was pretty awful, since it was actually closed captioning, with lots of (noise) and (silence]). Still, I almost fell asleep.
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10/10
My new no. 1 movie!
ladulaser17 November 2004
OK, so The Matrix (part ONE, the sequels just shouldn't have happened!) used to be my absolute favorite movie of all-time ever, since I'm a computer nerd and into eastern philosophy and all that. Now this movie comes along, takes all I liked about The Matrix and does it even better!

It is (compared to The Matrix):

* Visually more stunning. Loads of beautiful eyecandy, even more than "Crouching Tiger / Hidden Dragon"

* Broader range of philosophy. While The Matrix mostly focused on getting the western part of the world to understand what the Hindus are talking about when they say that the material world is an illusion, this movie contains explanations of quotes from The Bible, Confucius and Buddha. To name a few. Now, I'm just waiting for a movie explaining the monotheistic firmament of the Qu'ran, but as long as the U.S. keep pursuing the worthless "War On Terror", such a film isn't going to make it big anyway.

* More impressive weapons arsenal. OK, so it's science-fiction, whereas The Matrix had to stick to conventional weapons, at least in the cyberworld. But there are also some old-time (20th century) weapons being put to "good" use! How about Bato (the lead character of the movie) cleaning out a mafia café with an M249 PARA? All you Counter-Strikers out there know what I'm talking about!

In total, it rules! Also, there is no need for major Kusanagi to show her nipples for this movie to work out. It's so jolly good that it can kick any other movies ass without even having to allude to sex!

10 out of 10, definitely!
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5/10
A Really Bad Movie For Those Who Thought Matrix 2 Was Great
cosmo11168726 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Innocence" is a visual feast that shouldn't be missed for this reason alone, but the stunning (and seemingly endless) scenes of slow moving flocks of birds flying around sky scrapers and three dimensional environments alone couldn't save this movie from it's none sensible proverbs and it's horrid story neglect.

Spoilers:

When I went into this film, I believed that it would be about a man whose soul's installed into a robot and he and his bassinet go searching around the distopic city to unravel the cyborg's lost past which involves homicidal robotic concubines and the mafia. Of course, it wouldn't be fair to criticize a film on what it isn't but I find absolutely no difficulty in criticizing what it which remains unbelievably unclear throughout the film.

The story begins with our hero, the hard-nosed, "philosophical", cyborg police officer, who discovers a robotic concubine within an apartment who is fresh after killing and our hero coldly slugs her with three shots from his gun. The concubine goes down and is taken to forensics where our hero and his nervous human partner speak with an elderly robot (either robots age, she was made to look elderly, or she was elderly when modifications were put in) who fills us in with how and why these concubine robots named "sexoids" were made.

That sounds good enough except for one problem, the whole time we are told "philosophical insights" with more holes in them than your regular robot concubine. Almost all of which take away from the plot and force the audience to deal with them when they'd rather deal with the story. And they NEVER stop! Every scene we are bombarded with about fifteen proverbs or fifteen minutes of CGI imagery gracing the city as well as horrible Japanese singing!

Finally there are three scenes that contribute to the plot.

The first, we enter into a murder scene of a wealthy man who was killed by a Yakuza cyborg with illegal weaponry and has a holographic photo of a girl who looks eerily similar to the sexoids.

In the next scene our hero decides to 'speak' with the Yakuza by beginning a senseless shooting-em-up scene followed by a hand to hand combat with the illegally armed cyborg. Yes, that was to me the greatest evidence that the movie isn't about searching into the very essence of man's soul through the eyes of a robot, but to do a shoot-em-up movie filled with mundane proverbs to make the audience feel like they're watching Shakespeare while they're really watching Die Hard.

And finally, there's the scene where our hero's shopping for dog food and his brain is hacked into causing him to rampage but is cured before any true damage is done.

This was truly interesting for introducing this device into the psyche of the robots, thus rekindling my curiosity over the inner workings of their world. But soon enough the concept gets swallowed up by an endless amount of inane proverbs and only comes back later in like a Frankenstein.

In the next scene where, after about thirty minutes of swooping around the city in wide shots, a quick intermission of unnecessary and ridiculously mundane Myron, Confucius, and Biblical proverbs...and that horrible singing…the two detectives end up at the front steps ancient hacker's mansion. There, they walk very slowly across a bridge, through the heavily latched doors, and into the ballroom where our hero spies a hologram sexoid robot and bassinet, and feels that it's only economical for him to make these images appear in "zoomed-in" style with a few factoids appearing at the top. I'm sorry, but isn't it easier to look at things as a whole and gain instant insight from that without the use of such useless devices as a ticker? Frankly, if that's how the robots live, it must be hell. Well, anyways, they walk up the stairs, wake up the hacker who is feigning death, and start what I earlier stated as the birth of Frankenstein.

Over and over, the minds of the two are hacked into and the audience is forced to watch them approach the mansion exactly the same way again except with minor variations. This sequence takes about thirty minutes and ends when our hero tears the cables running into the dream hacker's head in reality (What use is there in the cables if they didn't hinder the dream tapper in any visible way?). Then, our hero reveals that he was hinted by "a guardian angel" that his tapped-dreams were false. Then the too end up at the doorstep again and speak apathetically about the value of reality and perception.

The next scene, our hero latches tightly to a submarine driven by a robot, which tells our hero not to let go because if he did, he'd sink to the bottom. Why the robot was in the cockpit when an auto pilot would suffice is beyond me. But our hero held on tightly throughout what proved to be a much tagged on scene. All the while, his partner and the hacker were hacking into the security system of the secret base where the sexoids were being manufactured so our hero could slip in and pull a Wolfenstein on those robots. And then, a couple of soldiers went in as well through the front door. So, bang bang, shoot shoot, lop, lop, the soldiers retreated or were all killed and our hero was left getting overwhelmed until the nick of time, The Major, who was spoken of regularly, dropped in while possessing a sexoid robot and helped our hero survive the ambush. For a while she was very reliving to have until she gave an analogy about mirrors creating evil and evil creating mirrors. Agggh!

Then, at long last, the film ends with a final appearance of the greatest character in the film, the bassinet. Hooray!

End of Spoilers

Ghost in a Shell 2: Innocence

3/10

Really bad movie for those who thought Matrix:Reloaded was great.
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10/10
Fantastic movie, most disappointing DVD in recent memory!
atdm9 January 2005
As a longtime fan of the GITS canon, I was eagerly awaiting the US release of Innocence... I wasn't disappointed in the film, it's one of the best anime I've ever seen and a worthy addition to the Ghost in the Shell universe. However, I have to say that the DVD is a huge let- down. First off is the cover art... Absolute crap. I found a link to the artists' original cover art, before he sent it off to Dreamworks, and it looks ten times better. Next up is the DVD insert. Wait, there's no insert. Strike two. Finally, how on Earth does Dreamworks think they can get away with publishing such a fantastically popular film in the States without a dubbed track, and with the only English subtitle track constantly spewing crap like,

"{rain falling}" ... "{gun shot}" ??

Ridiculous. If you're going ton include a hearing-impaired subtitle track, fine, just don't make it the -only- English subtitle track! I can only hope that a "Special Edition" is in the works, to fix what should have been in the first pressing.

Film: ***** DVD: *
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8/10
Thoroughly enjoyable from both shallow and deep perspectives!
reynolds-96 November 2005
I don't know what you guys meant about having to watch it several times...(that's what my friends, who recommended it, told me I would need to do)

It seemed pretty straight-forward to me. Very reminiscent of "Blade Runner" (and to a lesser extent "2001: A Space Odyssey") IMHO. It's actually very cerebral in its message... the setting, plot, and characters are secondary to the investigation of the concepts of self, self-determination and one's personal attachment to, perception and interpretation of, reality. I imagine those aspects may be quite provocative---or perhaps even inaccessible---to those who have not already contemplated those features of one's own subjective existence.

However, even on a superficial level, the plot seemed relatively uncomplicated; and, was definitely appreciable for its character development, action sequences, visual effects, and the futuristic vision of the setting.

The Dreamworks subtitles (on the DVD) are very good; but, you may have to skip-back a couple times if you're not a speed reader ;-)

I'm curious about the original in the series now, as I have not seen it; however, I had no trouble enjoying this film immensely despite some vague references to elements of the 1998 film (Kôkaku kidôtai).
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9/10
Visually Stunning - Thought Provoking
Green_Lantern_4827 May 2005
9 years and a great deal of fan anticipation later we are presented with the sequel to the Mamoru Oshii masterpiece Ghost in the Shell. And well, was the wait worth it? Technically, things have improved greatly and the visuals in Innocence are quite simply mind-blowing, particularly the parade sequence with it's various layers of detail (the five minutes of footage took a year to animate) and 2D and 3D have been incorporated in a sympathetic manner, styled very much like the Korean animated feature 'Wonderful Days'. The character designs are more in line with those featured in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series and are all superbly animated. The scenery is also stunning, with many of the environments being beautifully rendered in 3D, along with a host of retro 1950s cars that fit in to the quasi-Blade Runner look of the film. But what of the most important element; the plot? Well, in truth, this is a fairly different kind of film when compared to the original. Far less emphasis has been placed upon action sequences and far more of the focus has been shifted to certain intellectual and philosophical issues, particularly surrounding the purpose of human propagation and it's true agenda. These musings seem far more relevant to the average person than those raised in the original, and though I could not deride it's predecessor of which I am a great fan, Innocence feels like a far more personal, intimate and thoughtful film. And where as Ghost in the Shell was unquestionably the tale of Major Kusanagi, Innocence is very much Batou's story. As he searches for the truth behind a series of gynoid (sex droid) perpetrated murders, we not only learn more about the world in which he lives, but far more about the man himself. Perhaps seen as a hardened soldier, we learn there is far more to him than this, that he is thoughtful, determined but also very lonely and is starting to have issues with his own existence. Issues that are akin to those of the Major's in Ghost in the Shell. Complex and deep, he provides a perfect vehicle for the film's storyline. Personally, I believe that the wait was truly worth it and that Oshii, his team and Shirow (for conceiving the characters we know and love) should be congratulated on their hard work which has brought about a modern anime masterpiece.
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10/10
:*following are mild spoilers in the ideological sense; ZERO actual plot spoilers for GITS:2*:
thornswrath19 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Ghost In The Shell: Innocence was simply the best anime I have ever seen. It is the secret payoff after having to sit through (and enjoy, I'll admit) I, Robot and The Matrix movies. Now don't get me wrong: I enjoyed the Matrix trilogy. And I even thought I, Robot was passable Saturday-matinée popcorn entertainment. But as of GITS: I, I can honestly say that all those movies -- and Spielberg's AI, as well -- can just sit right down and shut the f*** up. Acclaimed anime director Mamoru Oshii has just sent y'all a digital bitch-slap to last generations. You wanna be subjected to an intelligent, mesmerizing vision of the future that incorporates the idea of AIs in effective and stunning ways? Innocence is the movie all die-hard cyber-afficionados have been waiting for all their lives. If one were forced to rely on comparisons with previous such cinematic fare, one could not avoid noticing the similarities in style to certain seminal works in the genre as Blade Runner and Star Wars, only as filtered through the clinically focused depiction of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and at the same time defying all these in favor of its own particular ideology. Anyone who sees Innocence and maintains the director is "ripping off" Ridley Scott stylistically has missed the somewhat unnerving point: it is merely that both auteurs have aimed for the same artistic truth and arrived near enough to their target to bring about certain undeniable analogs and parallels. Innocence is not derivative of Blade Runner so much as it is merely analogous to it's central themes: certain urban & global trends become inescapable in any futurist's carefully aimed predictions of where mankind is taking his collective urban environments. But Innocence strives to achieve something that its predecessors only hinted at: that the essential "difference" between robots and humans is something imbedded firmly in the eye of the beholder. The way it achieves this noble vantagepoint is nothing short of pure artistry, in that the audience is not led to this conclusion via traditional plot device; rather, we are gradually led to this inescapable conclusion only after having soaked up the ambiance of this highly-detailed futurist vision of the world and technology to come, and arrive there by a sort of osmosis, after having soaked up the detailed minutae of how artificial intelligence has proliferated throughout a wide variety of taken-for-granted applications.

What I found most fascinating about Innocence was it's unrelenting sense of crystal-clear focus on the "realism" of what could be considered "realtime-action"; and I found it ironically satisfying that an animated film could strive for a realism (and achieve it) more focused than that which a movie like, say Matrix: Reloaded for instance strove for, despite it having been filmed with real actors and sets. In other words, Innocence was a glorious example of finely honed stylism in that it achieved degrees of realism even beyond that of the Matrix movies, with all their flesh & blood actors and tangible sequences. This in itself propels Innocence high above the farthest-reaching ambitions of its predecessors in the AI -genre, and results in a visually stunning film that comes across like a mutant hybrid of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, the Matrix movies, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and then trumps them all with the careful introduction of our protagonist's basset hound (pictured in the movie poster), a remarkably "alive" anime-rendered pooch if there ever was one. This tail-thumpin basset becomes the mascot of the film and also the keystone which secures for the filmmaker the winning card in his Royal-Flush homage to science fiction robot movies everywhere. I had to watch Matrix: Reloaded twice to even begin assembling any sort of meaning to the story; and with Innocence, the fact that I'd have to watch it 5 times to even begin unravelling all its connotations speaks more for its inherent simplicity than it does for any sense of harrowing complexity: the details are packed into its subatomic structure, just like life itself. The story is quite straightforward, actually: it's the connotations of the story's details which linger on to haunt your memory for days, if not years, to come.
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