Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: C-/A-
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 4 - Australia / South America
  • Released By: Madman Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.95
  • Running time: 95
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

By John Eriani     April 03, 2006
Release Date: March 29, 2006


Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
© Madman Entertainment


What They Say
Batou is a cyborg. His body is artificial: the only remnants left of his humanity are traces of his brain...and the memories of a woman called The Major.

A detective for the government's covert anti-terrorist unit, Public Security Section 9, Batou is investigating the case of a gynoid " a hyper-realistic female robot created specifically for sexual companionship " who malfunctions and slaughters her owner.
As Batou delves deeper into the investigation, questions arise about humanity's need to immortalize its image in dolls. Together, Batou and his partner must take on violent Yakuza thugs, devious hackers, government bureaucrats and corporate criminals to uncover the shocking truth behind the crime.

"Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" is the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what's left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity.

The Review!
Innocence is the follow up to Mamoru Oshii 1995 adaptation of Shirow Masumune's Ghost in the Shell. While the film is rich with animation and atmosphere it feels inferior to the first film and even the TV series.

Audio:
Having seen this movie in its original language of Japanese several times now I decided to watch the film with its newly created English dub. The same team that does the TV series does the English dub, so all the actors are familiar with their roles and everyone does a great job. There do seem to be some issues with the presentation though. I noticed that sometimes the audio does not sync up with what is on screen. This only happens in the English versions and is most noticeable in chapter 9 where dialogue just doesn't sync with the mouth movements. At first I thought this was just poor dubbing but later I noticed delays in sound effects as well. The one that stands out the most for me is chapter 13 at 1:06:16. There is machine gun fire from a boat offshore and the first machine gun fires before the sound is heard. While I didn't notice this all the time it definitely is there and more prominent in certain scenes.

The Japanese audio doesn't suffer from this problem and it is a shame that there is no DTS version for this language. Despite the flaws all the soundtracks have some great directionality and the music comes through really well for the finale.

Video:
Taken from a HD master the video here is present in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for anamorphic widescreen. This film is very much about the visuals and everything looks fantastic, I didn't notice anything problematic except for a little film grain. This is a great looking transfer that does the aesthetics of the film justice.

There are some issues with the subtitles at the beginning of the movie. When English language is selected without subtitles, the quote at the beginning of the film appears with the first sentence translated but not the rest, this can be a pain for people who don't want to switch subtitles while watching the film.

Packaging:
The cover artwork is very similar to the Japanese release with Batou's dog and one of the "gynoids" in pieces on a white background. It's a very eerie looking piece but it works well with the film and its subject matter. The only problem is the dreaded OFLC classification, which mars an otherwise nice simple cover. Thankfully we have a reversible cover to get rid of this. The reverse artwork is just as good and with one of the gynoids from the coroner's office. Set in an amber like bag the only colour other then yellow that comes through is it's green eyes. The back cover lists all the special features and running time as well as quotes from various critics with shots of the film and a brief synopsis.

Menu:
The menus are animated in the same way that the film represents computer text, which is yellow on black accompanied by industrial type sounds. The background consists of various bits of text running down the screen and a 3D representation of a gynoid. Everything was quick and easy to access without any problems.

Extras:
The first disc has only one extra and that is the audio commentary track by the director and animation director, which is done in stereo with subtitles. They talk about who did what and the various things that went into making the film, its nice to have a commentary for this type of film as it give you a deeper insight into what the creators were thinking.

The second disc is where most of the extras can be found. We have two exclusive Australian extras that are interviews with the director as well as the producer. These run for about 6-7 minutes each and don't really offer that much, I was hoping to see the interview that was shown at the Japanese film festival in Sydney in 2004 but this is sadly absent. There is another interview with the director from the U.K. release and it goes for about 20 minutes and is much more in depth. We also get a Making of Innocence featurette that includes interviews with cast as well footage from the Cannes film festival where the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. There is also a trailer collection for the various Ghost in the Shell shows and Madman trailers. One extra that was a great idea on Madman's part was the inclusion of the entire first episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This is great for those who have not seen the show and shows them what else is out there in regards to Ghost in the Shell.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Innocence follows on from the last Ghost in the Shell film, in which the Major has left section 9 and now the story centres around Batou. Batou is finding it hard to adjust to life without the Major and seems to be more withdrawn then before from his Co-workers and even life itself. He is much more solemn and also doesn't appear to trust his colleagues, as he doesn't allow them to know where he actually lives. Instead they drop him off at a convenience store and he goes home from there. His home is nothing special either and the only thing that seems to make him even the slightest bit happy is the pet beagle that he dotes on with fresh dog food and a cuddle here and there.

Batou is assigned to investigate some murders that have been committed by robots known as gynoids. He is partnered with Togusa and their investigation leads them to the manufacturer, Locus Solus who may or may not be responsible for these robots killing their owners. There is some great action sequences that follows with Batou and Togusa going to a Yakuza den and they basically shoot up the place. Batou later gets hacked by someone and goes on a rampage in the previously mentioned convenience store. This indicates that he is on the right track and with Togusa go into the northern territory to find answers. They follow leads that take them to Kim, a former associate of Batou's and this is where the film runs out of steam and falls apart

One of the most interesting scenes is also one of the most painful to sit through with expert hacker Kim hacking Togusa and Batou while talking about dolls and humanity and everything in between. When I saw this in the cinema with a friend I asked him what he thought of the film and it came back to this scene and his response was that if he ever heard the word doll again it would be too soon. The dialogue is just stilted and unnatural and it almost ruins the whole experience that the visuals and music help create.

The problem is that people just don't talk this way and police officers or elite police officers for that matter don't either. Paraphrasing everything under the sun is not dialogue no matter how much Oshii wants it to be. The film is almost pretentious in the way it uses these scenes, making the audience feel almost stupid for not understanding what the hell was just said. It also slows the film down considerably because of this intellectual banter and not only do the main characters indulge in this but a lot of secondary characters do as well. The first film did quote and reference different texts but not to the detriment of the plot.

The story feels like a long episode of the TV series and not a particularly good one at that. For some reason the main characters can't really carry the story which is odd because they have both done so in the TV series without a problem perhaps it's the length of a feature film that causes this or Oshii's lack of ideas for a sequel. The main theme is suppose to be about what it is to be human but this message gets so lost in the dialogue that it may be missed by the audience. While the script is not the best the animation and music excel at what they are trying to achieve. Kenji Kawai returns with a similar score to the first film but with added punch and goes together with the visuals to create something that is far superior. Animation wise this is a very beautiful film with lots of detail and CG work. It is a real shame that the story can't match this.

In Summary:
Innocence is really a mixed bag. On one hand you have incredible animation and music and on the other you have a very straightforward story that is bogged down in meandering philosophical dialogue. The ending while exciting with all the mysteries of the investigation revealed it never really recovers from what proceeded it. Oshii himself has said not to think about the movie too much and just enjoy it, and I really wish I could. Overall I enjoyed the film enough to revisit but it's not something I can really recommend to many people and I suggest fans stick with the TV series for their Ghost in the shell fix.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language ,English 5.1 Language,English 6.1 DTS Language,English Subtitles,Audio Commentary By Mamoru Oshii (Director) and Toshihiko Nishikubo (Animation Director),Making of Innocence featurette,Australian exclusive interview with director Mamoru Oshii,Australian exclusive interview with Production I.G. president Mitsuhisa Ishikawa,UK interview with director, Mamoru Oshii,Ghost in the Shell Trailer Collection,Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Episode 1,Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Original Japanese Trailer,Reversible Clean Cover

Review Equipment
LG 32LX2D 32" HD LCD TV, Sony DVP-NS50P Progressive scan region free DVD player, Monster component cable, Yamaha TSS-15 Home Theatre Sound System

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