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  • Innocence
    • Innocence
    • Runtime:100 min
    • Release Date:2014-09-30 23:50:40
    • Director: Mamoru Oshii
    • Genres: Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Innocence
Auhtor:

   

It's been an extremely long time since I last laid my eyes on the
awesome Ghost in the Shell, and while a sequel and an animated series
have spawned a much wider universe, it is up until now that I've
finally picked something up to continue where I left off. Written and
directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence just about
shows why Japanese Anime remains a cultural force to be reckoned with,
boasting fantastic looking visuals, and a deeply engaging storyline
that just begs to be watched multiple times in order to appreciate it.

There's something keenly missing from this film though, and that's the
presence of Major Kusanagi, who had disappeared at the end of the first
film. I suppose it's a tremendous void to fill and thought she was
primarily what was interesting as a character, and not to forget her
prowess during action sequences, and this sense of loss gets translated
wonderfully by Oshii into the character of Batou her cyborg sidekick,
who becomes the protagonist we follow in Innocence. Being very much his
story and his piece of investigations, together with new partner
Togusa, we journey once again into the fictional Japanese city of New
Port, which is modelled more after Hong Kong, and what more, Cantonese
seems to be the order of the day as well in the finale action sequence.

The main plot here involves the investigations into a series of
gruesome murders by what would be illegally made sexbots known as
gynoids, which have gone berserk, killing their principals before
committing suicide. Made by the company Locus Solus, it brings Batou
and Togusa up against the Yakusa as well, which provides for some crazy
gun battle sequences, as they get close to the truth behind what these
gynoid dolls seem to possess – a ghost – that demands attention to what
goes on behind the scenes.

And what is a Ghost in the Shell movie, or a Mamoru Oshii film, without
a dabbling in philosophy that almost always boggles the mind and in
some ways, bogged down the film unnecessarily. Some dialogue felt
forced, especially when the two investigating partners address their
testy relationship, with Togusa constantly doubting his own abilities,
and trying hard to measure up against Kusanagi in being the perfect
partner for Batou. They exchange sayings and philosophies as quoted in
famous books, sayings and philosophers, and will probably pique your
interest enough to find out more on your own, and their relevance to
the context of the film.

In addition, there's the usual talk about hacking, and an incredible
sequence involving Batou's routine in an old supermarket involving
revenge hacking and some good ol' slow-motion shoot-em-up, while giving
us a first glimpse into Batou's oft-touted guardian angel which
suggested the return of an iconic GITS character. And any GITS film
will not be complete without the mind-numbing portions of the
narrative, which involves repeated sequences with a dash of subtle
changes that will keep your mind on its toes in deciphering the many
layers or reality and fantasy that Inception did best in.

A challenging film brought to another realm by music from Kenji Kawai,
the visuals here are a mix of the traditional hand drawn, as well as
computer generated CG and 3D, which I think will be gorgeous if
transferred into the 3D picture format of today, a technology that has
been used by lesser films to milk more money at the box office. They
are extremely detailed, especially a phenomenal sequence involving an
extended showpiece of a Taiwanese-inspired festival somewhere in the
middle of the film that razzled and dazzled, presented together with a
haunting piece of music that will make your hair stand on its end.

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I really liked it, especially the beginning and the ending of the
movie. I liked it better than the first, found it more interesting and
entertaining overall, but I cannot rate this movie without taking into
account the first one. While the first movie works out as a standalone
work, one cannot understand and truly appreciate the second movie
without watching the first one… first.

Now this is what I call deep and thought provoking entertainment, this
level of mind-rape can't be compared to the more farfetch'd (and
overkill) one shown in Evangelion. I dunno, but to some extent
Evangelion was only entertainment, while GitS felt a little more than
that. You can also clearly see how this movie inspired future works as
its first counterpart did (although not to the same extent). Why I
compared it to Evangelion I have no idea… maybe because both were
deep and had a very psychological and philosophical theme.

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I am not a card carrying anime fan but I like the best of what all
genres of film have to offer. Ghost 2 is a mesmerizing visual feast
garnished with the best dialog I have ever witnessed in anime. The
beauty of this movie is that it does not spoon-feed anything to the
viewer. The plot is complicated but can be followed effortlessly. I saw
a review that said the plot was murky. I don't understand why a viewer
thinks they have to know everything about the plot. Does the director
have to reveal all and make it easy to understand? Good art, in my
opinion, is not easily understood. If it were easy to understand, it
would require less thought. Less discoveries would be made about the
artist and ourselves.

The makers of this film have proved that it is possible to make an
intelligent film with action. I was entranced by the mood and tone of
the film. I found myself wishing I was in the world I was watching on
the screen. I wanted to be there with the characters and walk the dark
streets with them. It is a detective story AND an exercise in
Philosophy, which, though a strange pairing, works beautifully here.
The main characters wander through a hauntingly beautiful and dark
future world seeking knowledge of themselves while they do battle with
the evil men of their future. The dialog is peppered with philosophical
and literary references that span the length of history and are not
confined to the Eastern schools. Our heroes are never melodramatic or
cheesy while bouncing philosophical quotes off of each other. This
movie is pure poetry while maintaining a sharp edge. Hard to pull off.

The Ghost in the Shell films are asking us, the viewers, a question.
What is life? What are the differences between Man and Machine and what
are the similarities? Where does meaning in our lives come from? Are we
human because we feel, or are we more human when we sacrifice our
feelings for the greater good? Which is superior? Man or machine? The
fact that the director is challenging us to answer these questions for
ourselves shows the mark of a true artist. Throw in the absolutely
gorgeous visual side to the film, and its' mind-blowing action scenes,
and you have a masterpiece of thought provoking entertainment. I would
highly recommend only watching this at night or on a rainy day as it
can only lend to the captivating mood of this movie. Quite simply it is
one of the finest films I have ever seen- anime or otherwise.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having watched the original Ghost in the Shell for the first time ago a
couple of nights ago and really enjoying it I had high hopes for the
sequel; unfortunately I don't think it lived up to the original, that
is not to say it wasn't good, just not as good. Surprisingly one thing
that put me off was the improved animation; quite often I found my self
thinking about how well animated certain objects were rather than just
sitting back and enjoying the story.

The story itself is pretty good; set three years after the original
film the major is no longer around but her old partner, Batau, is back,
this time he is partnered with Togusa, a less experienced officer who
feels he will forever be in the major's shadow. Their case involves a
series of murders where people have been killed by their cybernetic
dolls. As they pursue those responsible they must confront violent
Yakuza and a hacker who can seemingly effect their view of reality.

As mentioned before the animation is stunning to the point of
distraction, like the first film there is a fair bit of philosophising
which seemed a bit heavy handed but wasn't too bad. I also missed Major
Motoko who was my favourite character in the first film, Batau made a
good lead though. If you enjoyed the first film I'd certainly recommend
that you watch this one too.

These comments are based on watching the film in Japanese with English
subtitles.

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