Ghost in the Shell - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Ghost in the Shell



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Movie: :3stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Most people out there will already recognize the name Ghost in the Shell. It’s pretty much one of THE best “man and machine” stories out there from across the seas, and has spawned the original Manga, an anime film, two seasons of a highly successful anime TV series, several TV movies, a sequel animated film, and now a live action adaptation. The 1980s anime film was a legendary piece of work that influenced a myriad of modern day films, and acted as a major inspiring force between the Wachowski brother’s 2000 hit The Matrix. The film’s warning of how machines and our love for technology has the potential for going SERIOUSLY sideways is even more relevant in today’s hyper tech saturated worldview, and it has been begging for a live action adaptation for years. The only thing is, the soul and heart of the Anime and manga are simply gone, replaced with well-worn visual treats and a propensity for trying to mimic the original film AND deviate drastically at the same time.

Many years in the future technology and mankind have been blended n a way that was never thought possible before. The lines between human and nonhuman are blurred so much that it is hard to see where one ends and the other begins. Humans are able to attain speed, reflexes, strength and abilities far past their birth gifts, and all at the expense of a simple in-patient surgery. “The Major” (Scar-Jo) is one of these beings, but to an extreme. The victim of a terrorist attack, her parents murdered), Mira Killian (The Major) was the 1st subject of an experimental procedure that transferred her brain and personality (named “ghosts” in the film) into a cybernetic shell. A year later she is a Major in the anti cyber-crimes unit of the Japanese police force, using her incredible cybernetic body to pull off extremely high-risk missions.

A routine mission suddenly puts The Major on a path to discovery that may change her life forever. It appears that a mysterious hacker is hacking into the minds and networks of people around her, and coming dangerously close to taking over some incredibly powerful sections of the city. However, upon closer inspection it seems that there is more to this than just a simple a hacker. As she and her cybernetically enhanced partner Batou (Pilou Asbaek) peel back the layers of mystery and intrigue, they soon find out that there is MUCH more than meets the eye. Their very own masters have secrets that they will kill to keep hidden. Secrets that could explain the very reason for The Major’s existence, and the identity of the mysterious hacker that they are searching at the same time.
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Ghost in the Shell is an interesting film to watch, and a highly frustrating one as well. The cautionary narrative of man and machine blending TOO much is explored in great detail, and also with some very strong narrative deviations as well. The action is high paced, the visual technology of today has finally caught up to a point where the incredible mechanical and sci-fi inspired set pieces can be pulled off extremely well, but the entire experience is just missing a soul. So much of the film is just a style of substance scenario that many of the more complex and deep ideas that are introduced just aren’t ever really fleshed out fully, or brought to fruition. What’s even more strange is the fact that the film can’t find an identity of its own, even with some really strong changes from the Anime film and Manga. The whole identity of the hacker, AND his motives, has been drastically changed. Not to mention the whole backstory of The Major and her motivation as well. Shirow Masamune’s intelligent and introspective dissection of what makes a human being a HUMAN is lost in the machine (so to speak) and instead replaced with some hints of that mixed in with your standard revenge storyline.

At the same time, sooooooooooooo much has stayed the same. While the creators seemed bent on going their own direction and “modernizing” the motives, they also made carbon copies of half the Anime film with almost word for word carbon copy dialog as well. It was startling that I could literally quote the dialog in the film just from my memory of the Anime, and then suddenly have this jarring shift as they artificially twist and rip the direction of the film with completely new creations. It was a bizarre experience and left me feeling as if the movie was in limbo, not sure whether it wanted to be a mirror image remake of the Anime, or whether it wanted to be its own thing, and as a result feels extremely fractured and unsure of itself. For those who are thinking that I’m being a disgruntled “purist”, I must assure you that I’m not. Ghost in the Shell (the anime and manga) were INCREDIBLE works of art, but I fully loved the changes they made for Ghost in The Shell: Standalone Complex and was more than excited to see the changes they made for the live action adaptation. However, the inconsistency in deciding whether it wanted to be a carbon copy of the original or its own thing feels like it was being torn down the middle with indecision, and that hesitation led to a fairly mediocre viewing experience. As a movie it was fairly decent, and a LOVELY thing to look at visually, but it just wasn’t that special either.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images




Video: :5stars:
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If anything, Ghost in the Shell is a GORGEOUS looking film that is absolutely stunning on Blu-ray. The experience is one giant array of sci-fi level colors with neon pinks, reds, blues and darker shades to compliment. The neon shots of the holographic trappings around buildings and near roads literally pop off the screen, and the piercing blue eyes of Scar-Jo look like they’re going to sear right through you. Blacks are deep and inky, with copious shadows in the sort of grungy underground, but those COLORS! Fine details are beyond perfect, seamlessly blending the enormous amount of CGI with real world in near imperceptible differences. Clothing, CGI, prosthetics, even the most intimate facial details are open to the naked with razor sharp precision. Artifacting is nonexistent, and even the common flaw of color banding was nowhere to be seen.





Audio: :4.5stars:
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The Dolby Atmos track is a near perfect as well, and I say NEAR perfect due to the fact that it has a surprising lack of overhead usage for a film with this much dimensionality. That being said, it is a jaw dropping audience experience, with frenetic action sequences that spin you right into the heart of the chaos. Gunfire blasting all around, the creak and groan of a mechanical spider tank, or a robotic prosthetic. Each and every sound is perfectly timed and given pinpoint directional precision, creating a very immersive sensation. The LFE is nothing short of jaw dropping, with deep waves of bass that pummel the listener during the action sequences (the end battle with the spider tank is almost enough to bring down the house). Surrounds are awash with the hustle and bustle of the giant mega city, and while the overheads aren’t wildly active, there are a few moments where you can catching some whistling wind as Major falls during her famous building drop, or the thudding of helicopter rotors as she is lying all beaten up after her battle with the tank.

.




Extras: :2stars:
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• Hard-Wired Humanity: Making Ghost in the Shell
• Section 9: Cyber Defenders
• Man & Machine: The Ghost Philosophy








Final Score: :4stars:


No matter the iteration of the source material, Ghost in the Shell houses a dire warning about the future and asks some complex questions about the meaning of being human. Ghost in the Shell 2017 has a difficult time really fleshing out these questions, but is an overall satisfactory watch on its own due to the lovely visuals and kinetic action. The Blu-ray itself is technically amazing, and is the perfect addition for the sci-fi lover who loves demo worthy material. I was a bit disappointed with the minimal extras on the disc, especially considering how rich the source material is and how much potential for commentaries etc, but it is what it is. While the film is in no way an awful film, the mediocre representation of a legendary Manga/Film leaves me with no choice but to relegate this one to rental territory.




Technical Specifications:

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Written by: Shirow Masamune (Based on the Manga by), Jamie Moss (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), Portuguese, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 25th, 2017







Recommendation: Rental

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I am a fan of the anime version of the Ghost in the Shell movie as well as the various spin-offs. That being said, I will check this movie out only for one reason -- Scarlett Johansson. :) Enough said. :)
 

phillihp23

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Video is 5 and Audio is 4 1/2 but you didn't like the movie (or were conflicted by the direction compared to other versions) so its a rental recommendation. I am not familiar with the anime or older versions of the film, hopefully your overall opinion is more based on your history or knowledge of what you knew the previous version storylines to be. I am looking forward to my 4K copy to arrive.
 

Michael Scott

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the audio and video were stunners, but the movie itself is rather soul less. it's decent rental, but it has very little going for it except flashy visuals. it makes a middle of the road action flick, but is sadly devoid of any real "heart" to it. Not horrible, just not great.
 

Sonnie

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It's hard to grasp how many movies you have seen and written about... it's astronomical I know, so you have a excellent routine with your writing style that sure comes in handy for me. I can just about nail down whether I will like a movie by what you write. I would not always rate the movie the same as you, because we don't always like the same things, but that is to be expected (always agree on video and audio). This is probably an exception... just not sure if I would like it or not (can't really get that routine read that I normally get)... so it will have to be a rental initially.
 

phillihp23

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I understand what you mean about "heart". Unfortunately I find on the norm most mainstream movies lack "heart" now days. So it kinda throws me for a loop when you mentioned it in a context other than having heart...in a positive light. Other than that I chalked up your impression of the storyline as personal opinion based on your knowledge of the characters in previous versions. Either way always enjoy your solid reviews and looking forward to watching this weekend when my copy arrives.
 

Michael Scott

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of course. Always make up your own mind, and I FREELY admit there is some bias on my end as the original manga and animated films are nothing like this iteration.. it just felt "generic" with lots of style, but very little substance... still decent enough movie on its own though. Not horrible by any stretch of the imagination
 

JBrax

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of course. Always make up your own mind, and I FREELY admit there is some bias on my end as the original manga and animated films are nothing like this iteration.. it just felt "generic" with lots of style, but very little substance... still decent enough movie on its own though. Not horrible by any stretch of the imagination
We just watched it and your summary is spot on in my opinion. It is absolutely stunning visually and I can only imagine how good the 4K version would look. Pretty nice Atmos soundtrack as well. I enjoyed it but yes it had a rather generic feel to it.
 

Todd Anderson

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I'm curious about this one...
 

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I grabbed this one during Black Friday for $14.99 BD with the 4K disc. Unfortunately I don't have anything 4k now but at that price I might as well gear up.
 
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