Ghost in the Shell 2.0 [Blu-Ray] Mamoru Oshii

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 [Blu-Ray] Mamoru Oshii
Not for lack of trying, I've never been able to get into Ghost in the Shell. Granted, Oshii's 1995 film remains groundbreaking in its blend of cell and digital animation, and seminal in opening up avenues of distribution for Japanese cinema in North America. And, yes, it's meticulously crafted and very important. It's also lame as hell. Ghost in the Shell has always seemed too eager to please, as if it's piggybacking on the maturity of something like Akira. Unlike Otomo's masterpiece, however, Ghost overloads on the all-philosophical twaddle. There's a rich story and enough taut action in the film, but it's consistently hampered by the characters' tendency to spew about post-humanism, the blurring of reality and cyberspace, and other rote neo-cyberpunk talking points. There are times, especially when Motoko is talking directly to the camera, that Ghost in the Shell feels less like a narrative film and more like what it would look like if a manga Ayn Rand read you the "Themes" subheading of Philip K. Dick's Wikipedia entry. It also succumbs to anime's most annoying pratfalls. I can grant that it makes sense for the cyborg secret agent Motoko to pass as a beautiful woman, but why does she need nipples? And why no labia? Why does she prefer stalking hacker ne'er-do-wells in the nude? It's the kind of thing that upsets attempts to look at Ghost in the Shell (and plenty of other anime) as more than cannon fodder for fan boy frappers. Still, this newly revamped Blu-Ray looks great. Time has been taken to combine the existent film with the latest advances in computer animation, which coalesce with the same seamlessness the film was originally praised for. Traditionalists can opt for the HD-remaster of the original film, also included. Other features are pretty sparse, including a subtitled commentary by Oshii and the film's animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo, and a dated "making of" that's about as riveting as a PowerPoint presentation. (Anchor Bay)