Ghost In The Shell: Movie
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // $34.99 // March 14, 2017
Review by Chris Zimmerman | posted March 12, 2017
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Ghost in the Shell:

There is a scene in the climax of Ghost in the Shell where the film's protagonist is lying on the ground, her limbs ripped from her body after a grueling mecha battle, and she contemplates the philosophy of "self" with a body-less AI. This quiet moment of dialogue encapsulates Ghost in the Shell's heart and soul and separates it from other works in the field of science fiction. It is scenes like this that other filmmakers such as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and the Wachowski siblings have pointed to as significant inspiration in their own works. Downplaying the themes of sex, violence, and revolution that have plagued the genre, the heart of Ghost in the Shell's story is one of identity and searching for what makes us, us.

So much has been said about Ghost in the Shell's technical merits and expansive mythology. Timed to coincide with the approaching live action adaptation of the same name, it's only natural for Anchor Bay to polish off the original with a new glossy stylish steel book case. When measured against the numerous releases the film has had over the years, is this new edition worth the double dip? The short answer is no.

Ghost in the Shell's innovation in the field of anime was at once immediate, exploring the nature of self and purpose set against a futuristic world of cyber-punk-infused neo noir. Deconstructing the genre with examinations self-identity and the dependence on technology coalesced into a dizzying pop culture phenomena that is still reflected upon fondly more than twenty years after its initial release. Look no further than the Matrix franchise or James Cameron's Avatar for proof of its influence.

Set in the year 2029, mankind's reliance on digital technology has seen the creation of cyborgs capable of thought and free will. An AI entity called the Puppet Master occupies cyber space in search of a new body to call its own, hacking into the world's most secure firewalls in the process. Major Motoko Kusanagi is an artificial being created by Section Nine to investigate cybercrimes. Assigned to investigate a despotic foreign operative, the two cases quickly converge, sending Motoko and her partner Bateau on the trail of the rogue AI.

Much of the film's dialogue focuses on questioning of what it means to be human, primarily in the case of Motoko, who ponders if her memories and experiences are enough to categorize her as a thinking, feeling, individual. Brimming with abstract concepts set to a deliberate pace less reliant on sex, violence, and nudity, Ghost in the Shell challenges the audience to reflect upon its weighty philosophical narrative.

And while it is recognized for its complex plot, just as much of the film's appeal can be attributed to its animation. Handled by Production I.G, Ghost in the Shell looks fantastic. What stands out most is the remarkable sense of fluid and naturalistic animation in the artistic expression of the movie's characters and the environments they occupy. Despite its age, Ghost in the Shell still holds up to and challenges modern animation, even surpassing it to some extent. Watching the film in high definition is an alluring experience that borders on mesmerizing.

The Bluray

Video and Audio:

Anchor Bay's presentation is visually solid. The stylistic choice of utilizing a softer pallete contrasts well with the muted tones of the backgrounds. The image is crisp though some grain is minimal, but does not detract from the quality of the production.

Similarly, the DTS-HD5.1 soundtrack effortlessly delivers a satisfying mix of robust sound effects and deep bass tones.


This is where the release falls of a cliff. The steel-book case is nifty and the accompanying artwork is actually quite exquisite, but aside from a digital HD copy, this is a barebones release. Ghost in the Shell is a film to be explored from its conception, themes, and technical merits. There are other releases out there that include bonus features. Even the VHS had extras, which makes the lack of content baffling and difficult to guess at who the release is meant to appeal to.

Final Thoughts:

Ghost in the Shell is a breakthrough film that achieved what few anime have in breaking into the mainstream of cinema. Therefore, it's a shame that Anchor Bay's re-release of the movie onto blu-ray comes as almost an afterthought. It's a blatant cash grab to capitalize on the impending live action film. While the steel-book packaging is attractive, if you already have the film in your collection, this release gives no incentive for a double dip. Even those who don't already have the film in their collection would be better suited picking up one of the other various releases unless you are a diehard collector who doesn't mind the steep asking price.

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