Ghost In The Shell 2

Title
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.

old

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.

chest
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.

manq
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.

Show

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.

Still
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.

Gun
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.

Wakka

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.

Sean
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?

Comp
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.

Cry
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.

Still2
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.

Doll
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