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By Kevin

This is,
of course, a synopsis of the film Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
(in case you forgot how to read the title of an article). I think it is
the second in some kind of series or something. I really don’t
care. I didn’t bother to subject myself to the first movie, but
it shouldn’t matter. Any good film sequel should stand on its
own, so I’m sure this one will too, right?

Part I: Part I

Alright, let's start this thing up. It
looks interesting enough so far; some text flashes on
the screen telling you something about computers or androids. I
didn’t really pay much attention because I was trying to scratch
a price sticker off of a DVD case. I can never seem to get these things
off without ripping a hole in the plastic underneath. Annoying. Oh, the
movie: They seem to be using a lot more
computer animation in this one, and less hand-drawn stuff. I for one am
extremely thankful for this. The computer animation seems to be at
least the quality level of a decent Playstation 1 game cutscene
(which, crappy as it might be is a gigantic step up from the herky
jerky sliding Cowboy Bebop style of animation).

Now the prologue begins: A white-haired old man cyborg (who seems to be a main character?) arrives at some
crime scene and he and these two cops act out the scene from the
beginning of the matrix.

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Then he goes inside and scans
decapitated bodies for signs of life. I can provide a useful tip here for
the aspiring crime-scene-investigators: Usually when one comes across a decapitated body  in
a dank abandoned warehouse it is normally NOT ALIVE. I suppose it
can’t hurt to be sure though. The old dude comes to the end of the hall and a china doll robot
attacks him in slow motion for a while. Then she pulls her own chest
apart.

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WOO! Spring Break!

It is worth noting that this film knows its target audience well; it
gets the robot breast exhibition out of the way in the first five
minutes. Interestingly enough, when this film was first released, many
anime fans complained that it was not a preteen robot and
also that it wasn’t being brutally raped at the time that
it’s breasts were shown. I guess this just goes to show that can’t
please everyone.

Part II: The Film

Opening credits: The audience is treated to a lovely song and dance
number featuring the deep space interpretive dance stylings of the mannequin
monsters from Silent Hill 2.
Fun fact: Mrs. Okaguchi’s 2nd grade choir from Kimikiri Middleschool provided the soundtrack
for this sequence. I found the animation in this sequence to be simply
breathtaking; and actually began to cry while watching it.

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Such beauty...

* Behind the Scenes *

On the DVD commentary of Ghost in the
Shell: Innocence, producers tell the story of how this sequence was
animated: “Well, we pretty much just sent somebody over to Pixar
[animation studios] in the United States and [he] fished this demo reel
out of a dumpster in back. Apparently it belonged to some
newly graduated computer animation student or something. [It] was all
smeared with feces; I guess one of the [Pixar] guys must have wiped
with it and tossed it out. Their loss I suppose.

After about 27 minutes, the credits end and story creeps (and I do mean creeps) on. Some guys
(the main characters) drive around mumbling for a while and soon they
arrive at what appears to be an antique show (OF THE FUTURE!!!). Later
I figured out that it was supposed to be a police station, but it still
looks like an antique show to me.

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Here is where the film’s white-haired anime roots begin to creep
through the bleached blonde computer animation dye job. Apparently it
proved far too difficult to animate two men climbing a set of stairs
coming towards the camera, because the characters glitch slide as they
walk. It's almost as if the animators had little or no experience in
basic animation techniques, but I'm sure this isn't the case...

* Behind the Scenes *

The commentary track at this point
consists simply of an audio recording of the inept animators gasping
and sputtering as they struggle to animate this simple sequence.

Rant I

The next scenes contain a few more examples of true “anime”
style as well. It is a bit difficult to explain, but in these scenes you can see how the characters only come to life when
they take action. There are no “ambient” movements. Any
character that isn’t speaking appears as if he is frozen in time
until the lazy animators decide to it has gone too far. At this point
(but VERY rarely, it seems) they will have him blink or tilt his head
slightly so that the film doesn’t look like a static painting
when the characters are standing in one place (instead, it just appears
to be one of those paintings from Scooby-Doo where someone peeks through the eyes).

So, for example, let’s say that a character is sitting in a chair
facing the camera. As he speaks, only his mouth and a tiny portion of
his face are animated. Then if he is to stand up, he will be animated
climbing to his feet. There his entire body stands – frozen
– until his mouth moves yet again to continue spewing worthless
phrases.

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Check out this video clip I captured from the movie

This is done again and again and again and again and again and again
throughout the entire film, and gives the film a brilliantly lifeless
robotic quality. In a few places I was fooled into thinking that the
DVD had frozen because the “animators” were simply displaying a
still picture for 15 seconds at a time.


Battle (Sort Of)

I skipped past a pantload of pan and scan mouth-moving-only
conversations and exposition. This is not worth anyone’s time.
Skip past the scene where they investigate a crime scene. Skip past the
main guy (not the mulleted Keanu Reeves guy, the other one) staring at
a hologram baseball card of a little girl for about 10 minutes. Skip
even more dull crap, more dull crap, crap,crap,crap, and we finally
come to…

A scene where Mullet Keanu and Giant Albino Gunther (who looks like a Die Hard: The Movie
terrorist, complete with ponytail) arrive at a bar to talk to some
Wakagizuasi guy. I guess the gangsters didn’t want to let them
because they all draw their guns. Gunther whips out this giant machine
gun and mows everyone down. Woo-freaking-hoo.

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Big Deal.

But I must say that when the animators are forced to animate everything
in a scene, it can look reasonably neat. I mean, even though what we
are getting here plot-wise is a poorly directed (if directed at all)
sequence from a 1984 John Woo movie, it still works a lot better than
the rest of the film. But it gets old fast. The big guy is invincible
and mows down everyone in the place without meeting any semblance of
resistance. The movie doesn’t even
bother with the illusion of dramatic tension; there isn't a single
moment where either of the main characters is ever in the slightest
danger of being killed.

At one point the Gunther-borg turns out to be a hologram and one of the
gangsters cries out “He hacked our eyes?!” I weep. It
reminded me a lot of the preview for the The Core where
that little ratty kid says “You want me to hack the
planet!?” Except this made me sad instead of angry. They go upstairs after laughably
shooting some grenades in midair, and the old cyborg guy has a battle with what appears to be
Wakka from Final Fantasy 10
in Sam Fisher goggles.

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Wakka must be really powerful, because he pulls
off moves that are so great that you can’t even tell what’s
happening! He lifts his arms and smashes them around and the camera
cuts away and things shake and things boom and dirt falls from the
ceiling. It’s all very dramatic, spare no expense! In the end the
Guntherbot prevails and Wakka gets his useless crab arm ripped off. The
two head back to police headquarters and receive the same
megacliché dressing down that appears in every single renegade
cop who doesn’t play by the rules movie ever even conceived in any sperm’s head.

Next the big guy goes in to a convenience store and makes a big show
out of searching for a box of Coco Puffs, scanning all the patrons as
he walks in. Is this what cyborgs do when they’re bored? Just
walk around in public scanning random lifeforms for kicks? Even if this
is the case: YOU DON'T NEED TO SHOW IT IN A FILM. Anyway, it
doesn’t appear that his scanning has accomplished anything because a
nondescript late
40’s gangster in the back draws a gun and shoots him a bunch of
times as he carries his cereal to the counter. Gunther becomes
fairly annoyed because of this, and so he decides to fire at an
innocent young girl and
then put his gun to the store clerk’s head. Luckily, a young,
hip version of Sean Connery comes up from behind and puts a gun to
Gunther’s head and saves the day (I guess?). I’m sorry if this gets a little confusing,
but I can assure you it’s the movie’s fault, not mine.

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Sad But True:

Screen legend Sean Connery voiced "Great Grandfather Altair"

in 3 seperate Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon episodes.

We are then treated to a sort of mini montage of still shots from
around the store. It reminds me of the rollicking-good-time montage in
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
except that the Ghost in the shell version is about ten seconds long,
isn’t accompanied by Burt
Bacharach’s South American Getaway, and is completely and utterly uninteresting.Unfortunately,
we don’t have much time to think about the
freeze-frame montage because the film just cuts away to a scene of the
cyborg lying in bed somewhere. I'm really a big fan of this new method
of storytelling: Perform random cuts to an entirely new area at the
climax of an action scene and offer the audience no explanation as to
what just happened.

Rant II

Why even continue the “traditional” style of animation in
these films? Just make the whole thing computer animated! The
suspension of disbelief has already been completely obliterated by the
laughable dialogue and nonsensical pseudo-intellectual storyline, so
why do you force me to look at your garbage-y paper doll animation?

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See this crap? It sucks slightly less.
Slow Decent into Madness

Some more stuff happens. The characters travel across a long red
carpet to get to some building. As they enter and look around, a
discordant version of the Home Alone 2 soundtrack inexplicably chimes in the background. The cyborg wanders around the Devil May Cry
inspired (and fully 3D!) environments for a while to kill time, and I
sit with a rusty razor blade trembling centimeters from my jugular. I just can’t stand it any more.
I skip past the 50% (!) of the film that remains and jump right to the end.

A little girl cries because she doesn’t want to be a doll, then
some lady who talk without moving her mouth about
Buddha who is probably rolling his eyes at this movie even though he
has achieved one-ness with the universe and is comprised solely of life
energy. Then thankfully the dumb broad dies. Those lousy Japanese kids
sing some more and my ears begin to bleed.

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Shut up! SHUT UP!

Then two gay lovers arrive at a mansion somewhere and their mangy mutt
comes out to greet them. Keanu Reeves tells the cyborg he has HIV and
is going to die soon. Everyone hugs. It turns out that the old man at
the beginning of the film was Private Ryan after all, and he begs his
wife to tell him that he lead a good life. Next, a frightening little
girl runs out of someplace shouting “daddy” and her face is
that of a grown woman. Horror. A close up here of a dolls inexpressive
plastic face which ironically looks more human than any of the
“real” characters. Then, a 12 second shot of the cyborg
jackass’s face that again makes you think the DVD froze. I crap
in my pants and begin to smear it all over the television screen, in a
desperate attempt to create the Mona Lisa so that I might see real art.

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Stare at this picture for 15 seconds with no background noise and experience the magic of this film

Cue the requisite “utterly inappropriate and completely irrelevant”
love song during the ending credits. Seriously: What the F*** is with
the Japanese and their insane
obsession with some vaguely European chick belting out meaningless love
songs during the credits of their films and games? THIS MUSIC IS
TERRIBLE! I HATE JAPAN!

Edited Post Script

 I was very angry when I finished watching this film, and I wrote
some really mean and terrible things at the end here; directed both at the
filmmakers and anime fans alike. I have removed them and added this
section instead, which I am writing hours later. I did actually become
physically ill after watching Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, though. I
do believe it is one of the most uninteresting and  pointless
“films” I have ever seen. I do not feel that I am being
melodramatic or exaggerating. This movie was so very terrible. After watching
and writing about this film I feel that I am now less whole as a
person.  But most of all, I just feel sad.

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Jimmy Carter!

Rating

Out of a possible 10,234,092,099 potatoes, I give this film 1 rotten and smashed potato.

1/10,234,092,099