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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence - animated DVD review
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Kôichi Yamadera, Tamio Ôki, Yutaka Nakano
Director: Mamoru Oshii   Studio: Dreamworks Video
DVD release: 28 Dec. 2004   Runtime: 100 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, French), Audio Tracks (Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1; Japanese, Dolby Digital 2.0), Filmmaker Commentary, "The Making of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," Trailers

Having not seen the first Ghost in the Shell, I can't compare this sequel to the original; I went in with no preconceptions or expectations. That said, this film as absolutely stunning visually. The combination of 2-D animation and 3-D CGI is absolutely amazing and sucked me in right from the start. The story is of Bato, a cyborg detective for the anti- terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, and his partner Togusa's investigation of a female robot (created only for sexual pleasure) that slaughtered her owner.

While the animation is incredible, the story falls flat. The characters wax philosophical for most of the movie, which seems to fall in love with its own intelligence. The dialogue plays out like a game of quote poker: I'll match your psalm and raise you one Milton and two Freuds. This is not a knock on the film as a whole. I understand what it attempts with its search for deeper meaning and symbolism, but there could have been a better balance struck with the dialogue. Staunch supporters of the film may say that "any movie that engages your brain need not make any apologies." That may be true, but gratuitous intelligence can be just as not entertaining as gratuitous sex or violence. This is far from a stupid movie, but those who will blindly support it just because it is a "smart" film shouldn't knock those expecting an action-packed film with deeper meaning as opposed to a philosophical film with some action.

As to the DVD experience itself? Not having it dubbed in English is a faux pas, but having only one subtitle option ranks as an even bigger mistake - a hearing-impaired track where background noise, idle chatter, and rain pop up when you can obviously hear it. Is that enough for me to totally blast the film? No - but it does take the level of enjoyment down several notches. I understand anime fans' passion and can relate to having nuances make a big difference; ultimately, though, the visuals glow with such lush beauty that I simply cannot pan the film for this blunder. Overall, this is a great visual treat for the eyes. The only real negative is the DVD presentation.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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