“Ghost in the Shell” is considered an early anime classic, one that arrived in the mid-90s to become a groundbreaking film of visual style and complex ideas. Not only did it pave the way for further development in animation, but it also spawned sequels, prequels, and its own TV series in 2002. Taking place in 2029, the film follows a group of government agents known as Section 9 as they attempt to track down a dangerous hacker known as “The Puppet Master.” However, these aren’t ordinary government agents. Two of them, Motoko Kusanagi (Voice of Atsuko Tanaka) and Bateau (Voice of Akio Otsuka), are more cybernetic than human. Using these upgrades, they attempt to locate the hacker, but every time they think they’re getting close, all they find is a puppet whose memory has been tampered with. As they continue their investigation, they soon find that The Puppet Master might actually be connected to another government agency, whose part in this case they must uncover before it’s too late.
This is a fascinating sci-fi adventure that could easily be labeled as a kind of neo-noir film. Many of the elements are there, including the dark nature of the story and that ever-present and bizarre need to try and explain the plot as quickly as possible. In fact, I’d say that the latter is probably its biggest drawback. For a film with as deep and complex a plot as this, you would hope that they would take the time to explain the plot clearly and precisely instead of trying to motor-mouth a little of the explanation every now and again, but, taking a cue from film noirs of the past (“The Maltese Falcon,” “The Big Sleep”), we find the characters quickly telling us how everything is connected. Like those earlier examples, you may need to go back once or twice to get the gist of it, but once you do, you’re in for an intriguing story that unfolds itself a layer at a time until you see the entire picture. It just seems very strange that they would feel the need to rush the plot at certain times, especially when there are scenes placed throughout the film that are obviously meant as filler (i.e. scenes that just have us looking at the city for long periods of time, montages, and long still shots). Putting that aside, you are still treated to beautiful animation (state of the art for the time) and a rich and compelling story filled with lots of twists and plenty of action. For those who are already big fans of anime, or even those just looking for an entertaining cinematic experience, “Ghost in the Shell” is sure to satisfy.
“Ghost in the Shell” arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78: 1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. The dazzling animation has been given new life with this sharply-defined picture that highlights the film’s dark beauty. As for the audio, you have your choice of two tracks. The English track is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD and sounds fantastic, with the dialogue, score, and sound effects coming through loud and clear. The Japanese track is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital, which sounds a little rougher, but still has no problems of note. Overall, the film has been given excellent treatment that allows for a flawless experience.
While the complete lack of special features is a big disappointment, the film itself is more than enough reason to pick up this release. “Ghost in the Shell” stands as one of the pioneering films of anime history, one that captures the imagination with its intricate story and dazzles the eyes with its gorgeous animation. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have any flaws, but rather that they just aren’t enough to stop this from being a thrilling and entertaining sci-fi journey, one that everyone will be able to enjoy.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Halloween: The Complete Collection, Neighbors, The Rover, Ghostbusters 1 & 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Draft Day, The Quiet Ones, Only Lovers Left Alive, Muppets Most Wanted, Locke, Bears, Divergent, Need for Speed, Noah
Now Playing in Theaters: Get On Up, How to Train Your Dragon 2
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