Ghost in the Shell: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This film has an intense and complex storyline, so instead of covering all the branches to be found, I will provide a general overall synopsis. In this fashion, you can watch the more subtle portions unfold, which I think adds a lot to the movie’s experience. In 2029, the world has become heavily reliant on electronic information, which means the bulk of the vital information could be taken down, if precautions aren’t taken beforehand. The authorities are always on the watch for crimes, but as their forces evolve, so do the hackers and it becomes almost impossible to ward them all off. In an effort to minimize the hackers and their attacks, a special unit has been formed to deal with them, Section 9. This team consists of powerful and well connected cyborgs, who can access whatever they want, whenever they want. A skilled hacker has still been able to crack through the system though, taking over human minds and calling himself the Puppet Master. As the total victim count continues to rise, a female cyborg and her human partner have to track down this elusive hacker, before it is too late.

Even if you dislike most anime titles, Ghost In The Shell is one flick you won’t want to miss. It uses elements of action, adventure, science-fiction, and even more genres to conjure up a terrific viewing experience. You can see elements of this film within The Matrix, although I happen to think they’re better presented here in Ghost In The Shell. The storyline can become a little hard to follow at times, but I think sci/fi veterans should be all right in the end, as no real gaps seem to be present. The story is very well developed and so are the characters, which is always welcome within any film, even in anime. The action driven sequences were my personal favorites, but I think all the scenes work well and no real dull moments to be found here. This film does have a lot of violence, strong language, and even some nudity, so while it is an animated features, this one isn’t for the wee children in the house. If you’re a fan of action and sci/fi, especially within anime, then Ghost In The Shell is more than worth a look. A rental will suffice in some cases, but this is a film that gets better each time, so a purchase is also a worthy investment.

Video: How does it look?

Ghost in the Shell is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. When it was first released, the original disc’s transfer was quite impressive. But that was then and now, the visual presentation is still solid, but doesn’t hold up against more recent releases. I think we all expected a brand new transfer for this new edition, but sadly, that isn’t the case. I want to stress that the visuals still look good, but this movie deserves a restored edition and this is the same recycled treatment. This film uses very dark contrast levels and almost supernatural colors, so the transfer has to work overtime to keep up, but it does. The black levels are sharp and well balanced here, which allows detail to be high and the image look very crisp. No real issues with the colors either, the greens look better than others, but all the hues come off well here. Again, the movie still looks good, but this would have been a great chance to revamp the visuals.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is where this new Special Edition earns its keep, thanks to a plethora of new soundtracks that should delight fans. The original disc offered only a 2.0 surround option for the original Japanese soundtrack, while the English language version was Dolby a Digital 5.1 track. But this time around, that oversight has been corrected and both Japanese and English sides are well represented. You can choose between Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES soundtracks for both languages, so Manga has went above and beyond here. But new does not always mean good, so do these new soundtracks deliver the goods? The video was a bit of a let down, but the audio comes through and then some. The surrounds come alive and never let up, with an active and immersive presence that really enhances the experience. You can tell these are remixes, but even with reservations, I was very impressed by the performance of the Japanese soundtracks. This release also includes Spanish, French, German, and Italian language tracks, as well as optional English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The second disc isn’t put to good use, as no new supplements have been included, just the same stuff found on the previous release. The best of the lot is a half hour featurette, which examines the animation process, but for fans, this is all old news. This release also includes the production report, character profiles, information on the creator & director, and the film’s trailers.

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