Ghost in the Shell is a slick but plodding recycling of tired cyberpunk clichés that adds nothing new to the genre.
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Most alluring are the crumbling neon cityscapes, real world/cyberspace fusion and the musings on identity.
For a movie that’s so photo-realistic in its backgrounds and detailed in its character design, Ghost In The Shell is just as effective when it goes minimal, suggesting presence through absence.
It is a dizzying, headspinning film, replete with violence, alienation and tech-porn. I confess I find it too opaque to make the kind of investment that would qualify me as a real fan. But it should be seen.
There are gripping chases and balletic combat scenes, painstakingly realised by Oshii’s animators, but the mood is mostly cold and melancholic, as Kusanagi broods over the fleshly implications of living in a world of data
The ghost of anime can be seen here trying to dive into the shell of the movie mainstream. But this particular film is too complex and murky to reach a large audience, I suspect; it's not until the second hour that the story begins to reveal its meaning. But I enjoyed its visuals, its evocative soundtrack (including a suite for percussion and heavy breathing), and its ideas.
The plot is impossibly dense and the characters – perhaps appropriately – feel like little more than cyphers, but for sheer mind-expanding sci-fi strangeness this is hard to beat.