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Reviews Comments: Completely unenjoyable on every level Ghost In The Shell film/book review by Wackd

Lemme get this out of the way first—the dialogue, at least in the dub, is absolutely terrible. The expository dialogue has a very specific rhythm that it adheres to unwaveringly, a constant barrage of question and answer sessions even when it comes to things characters should already know about the way the system works. Most irritating is that any introspection the characters have is packaged like this too—the Major, especially, tells us how she feels about life and existence the same way she talks about the details of a case she's working or how this universe's robots work.

And speaking of life, existence, and how robots work, the film seems to repeatedly put forth that life is meaningless. The problem is that this philosophy is based entirely around the hypothetical world the movie is set in—memories can be fabricated, minds hacked. In such a world, yeah, the concept of life is kinda meaningless, and yet the movie seems to put this forth as a general philosophy rather than one specific to its warped universe. It's like if Lord Of The Rings put forth orks as evidence of fundamental evil. And of course none of this is helped by the rhythms of the dialogue.

You'd expect refuge in the action scenes. This is a crime thriller after all, isn't it? But the film seems convinced that if the pacing picks up for more than two seconds it'll lose its deep-and-brooding cred. Chase scenes are given slow steady music and a montage feel that just falls short of putting you to sleep. Oh, it has no qualms about quick bursts of brutal violence, so long as they don't linger.

Other, non-action silent scenes are like this, too, with one montage being just of people wandering about the city. There was probably a message in that, but maybe the film's right and I'm just too stupid to get it if everything isn't explained to me at length in monotone.

At 90 minutes the film feels overlong and understuffed. It has little to say and no skill to say it with. Oh, and the CGI is terrible and out of place.

Watch the show instead. It's far better in all respects.


  • tsstevens
  • 7th Apr 14
To be fair some anime take the pessimistic life sucks and then you die approach. Take Neon Genesis Evangelion which if you haven't seen I won't spoil, but by god is it a dark take on existence that seems to be your main gripe with the film.

My take? Well my review is there if you're interested, but absolutely as good as anime at the time was you are right to point out the voice acting. This was before the time of Steve Blum and other notable names (Jennifer Hale, Samuel L. Jackson in Afro Samurai, Kim Mai Guest, Robert Atkin Downs, Laura Bailey, Johnny Young Bosch) and any anime or game would likely have voice work that is questionable. The same goes for style and tone, I remember when I had a fest of works such as Big O, Ace Combat and Tekken. Rather than a Eastern take on Batman: The Animated Series or blowing up planes or two wo/men enter one wo/man leaves we get dark, we get gritty, we get at times depressing and distressing stories. That's part of the charm, but since you point it out my advice is if you are not an emo and don't want to become one, or are an emo and don't want to slash your wrists then absolutely exercise judgment. Pick up Initial D or You're Under Arrest!, pick up Saints Row'' and choke out the Wangst with the Penetrator bat.
  • Wackd
  • 11th Apr 14
You seem to be under the impression that my problem with the film is that it's depressing, whereas in actuality my problem is that the worldview the film puts forth as to why life is depressing only makes sense in-universe. It's invented a societal problem and then tries to use that as proof of real-world existential meaninglessness.
  • Sen
  • 11th Apr 14
I do agree that the show instead is better, but my problem with the Oshii movies is that they plod like mother-fuck. They are so agonizingly slow and don't even have enough material to hold my interest.

That irritates me because I like slow-paced Slice of Life and Iyashikei stuff, so I know that taking it slow can be a good thing for plot, so I consider the Oshii movies as prime examples of how not to do a slow-paced story.

The other problem is of course that Major Kusanagi is an awesome character but she's completely mishandled and wasted in the movies. She's way more lively and cool in the series.
  • Wackd
  • 11th Apr 14
Well, yes, that too.
  • tsstevens
  • 18th Apr 14
You mean how a story takes place in The End of the World as We Know It (it doesn't but for the sake of argument) and uses such a setting to apply nihilism to the real life which isn't nearly the Crapsack World the story is based? Yeah. I see what you're saying if that's the point you're making. With the Evangelion example I mentioned, it makes sense for the characters to be nine kinds of effed up but Hideaki Anno used it to an extent to cope with real world issues and his own depression.

You might be interested in hearing what Bennett The Sage has to say in his review of Trigun. He addresses how Vash deals with his circumstances and how it's very different to what you seem to be suggesting.
  • ElectricNova
  • 21st May 14
I mostly agree with this review, except I watched the sub instead of the dub. The dialogue isn't much better in that though.

My problem was that there's no climax, and no real driving force to the plot.
  • MrMallard
  • 21st May 14
I didn't like the movie itself, but the final scene was animated beautifully and I really liked the soundtrack. It was a weird-ass soundtrack, but that's why I liked it.

Other than that, it failed as a movie.
  • olgaroni
  • 7th Aug 14
The film doesn't say that life is meaningless. Ghost in the shell is about the question what is needed to be considered human. It's dark yes, but also rather optimistic (just like Evangelion.)

Oshiis style is hard to endure for many people, but the things he has to say are more interesting and deeper than a simple statement like "Life sucks in the future"
  • Muzozavr
  • 19th Dec 14
Watched GITS, liked it, my 2 cents...

"The expository dialogue has a very specific rhythm that it adheres to unwaveringly, a constant barrage of question and answer sessions even when it comes to things characters should already know about the way the system works." Yes, that, unfortunately, seems to be true of Mamoru Oshii in general. I previously watched his Avalon movie (which I liked, but not as much as this one) and the same thing was true about Avalon. It's also the same way in the sub.

Still, from the excerpts I've heard of the English dub, the voices suck. I lean heavily on the "sub" side of the "sub vs dub" debate, with a few specific exceptions (Hellsing is one), but I watched Ebert and Siskel's review of GITS and they chose to use video segments from the dub and Kusanagi's voice is just horrible. It's not just a different voice from what I've heard in the sub, it's not even the same character.

"concept of life" You meant concept of "self", right? If not, allow me to headdesk because the movie, as far as I remember, never once mentions the meaning of "life", unless you get some weird-ass crappy translation. The characters (and the movie) are obsessed with what defines your personality and humanity, not with the meaning of life...

"the movie seems to put this forth as a general philosophy rather than one specific to its warped universe." But that makes sense for the characters. If you were a philosopher within such a world, what conclusions would you arrive at? These questions are personally important to characters like Motoko and even Batou. They are not just there as Oshii's Author Tract. And you don't have to agree with the things that the Puppet Master says to enjoy him mindfucking everyone around and making it work.

"But the film seems convinced that if the pacing picks up for more than two seconds it'll lose its deep-and-brooding cred." Well, Oshii is a fan of Tarkovsky and THAT was way fucking slower. For the record, I don't like Tarkovsky except for his first film (Ivan's Childhood) and the final bits of Rublev.

As for the fight scenes, a lot of the times more emphasis is placed on the danger than on how cool it looks. It doesn't excuse the "slow contemplative music" trick that only works because Kenji Kawai is awesome, but it does explain the visual direction of some of the fights. In the tank scene, for example, I absolutely love how Motoko ducks in and out of cover, like a real person would. Or a gamer. It's such a game-like camping tactic that I had to smile.

Other times, there's some weird gimmick, like the fight in which Motoko is invisible. That was strange, but quite cool at the same time.

"Other, non-action silent scenes are like this, too, with one montage being just of people wandering about the city." Under SUPER-DUPER-ULTRA-BEAUTIFUL KENJI KAWAI MUSIC. Or is that not enough? :)

Really, I think there's a damn good reason Oshii values Kenji Kawai so much — his music gives Oshii an excuse to drag some scenes out like a motherfucker and get away with it. Then again, I was a fan of Kenji Kawai even before watching GITS, so I might be somewhat biased.

As for the message, that montage was right after Motoko's contemplation of her self, so, perhaps, the montage was intended to show that by becoming a backdrop to Kenji Kawai's soundtrack. Then again, maybe not. Anyway, I don't have to dislike something to call the director out for showing off and being pretentious. :)

"Oh, and the CGI is terrible and out of place." Which version did you watch? I didn't notice anything specifically horrible while watching the original release, but there were claims of bad CGI work in GITS 2.0 (not to be confused with Innocence)

There were a few camera pans, however, that felt distinctly out of place. It's supposed to be a huge world, but it's so obvious that it's just a pan over a static image. This would work in a cheaper project, but in a movie that is otherwise beautiful through and through, in a movie where other camera pans have full parallax scrolling like they're supposed to, it's very jarring to suddenly see a camera pan that has no parallax whatsoever.

"Watch the show instead. It's far better in all respects." Since I'm now curious about the GITS world, will do.
  • willyolio
  • 12th Apr 17
I think you just completely missed the point of the movie, and you are criticising your misinterpretation instead of the movie itself.

Nowhere in the movie does anyone talk about life being meaningless or depressing. At all. In fact, the antagonist's main goal is to reproduce and evolve so that it can continue living. Where the hell did you get the idea of "life is pointless" from that?

Motoko is questioning her sense of self, not life. The entire scuba/boat scene was all about that. She wants to live and wants confirmation that she's a living being, not a machine programmed to believe she's alive.

The TV series has an entirely different Motoko, but that only works for a show that's about action and police work, not a movie about the definition of humanity and identity.
  • kkhohoho
  • 15th May 17
Except that wasnt his biggest problem with the film. The biggest problem was that the dialogue was terrible. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. Like I said in my own review, the dialogue is nothing but faux-philosophic nonsense that doesn't sound natural in the slightest, which only serves to make the characters come across as dull, lifeless shells. And yet, you completely glossed over that as if he didnt have a problem with it. So if the dialogue is dull and lifeless, and the characters are in turn dull and lifeless, and the so called philosophical themes are largely derived from dialogue that doesnt have any real meaning to it despite trying to sound like it does, than how it can even delve into "the definition of humanity and identity" when there's not really that much to actually delve in to? Not to say there aren't any themes at all, because there are, but theres still largely so much more style than there is actual substance. And that is what makes Gi TS a bad movie.

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