in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
It's set in 2032, a science fictional future, where the line between humans and cyborgs is blurred to the extent that
the true definition of being human has been long forgotten. The main character is Batou, who, while being a cyborg himself,
has all the other aspects that make him a human, believable character. He is a cop, working for the government and starts
investigating the case of a malfunctioning sex-cyborg (a sort of a robot-prostitute) that started butchering her clientele.
This brings him to an intricate crime solving puzzle, from the investigation of slaughters, to fighting scenes with a grotesque
cyborg to to an underwater adventure in a submarine-like center.
2 had a tough act to follow as the first Ghost in the Shell was an animated masterpiece. Fortunately though, this sequel is
almost just as good! However, it must be said that even though it is a continuation of the first film it’s style is
a little different. Whereas GITS was an action-packed, violent, surprisingly complex, Matrix-comic-book-style animation. Its
sequel is a considerably darker, more psychological than “action-packed” film-noir. This time, we follow Batou,
a character arguably slightly less engaging than the girl of the first film but he’s still an interesting creation nevertheless.
What can I say about the graphics? They’re just as impressive as the first GITS, if not more. A real treat to the eyes
(and the ears, thanks to a hypnotic score). And if you thought GITS was complex, then I welcome you to the ultimate mind-f***.
The script looks like it was written by bloody Socrates! With dialogs filled with quotations from Descartes and Buddha to
name a few. It might be a little frustrating for those less acquainted with Japanese sci-fi animations like GITS and Akira
but others will no doubt enjoy testing their mental capacities to try and pierce the film’s impenetrable…shell.
Overall, it’s dark (even creepy), visually impressive, very clever and ultimately brilliant.
Overall: ****1/2 /5 . Highly recommended.
Ghost In The Shell (1996)
The year is 2029. The world has become intensively information oriented and humans are well-connected to the network.
Crime has developed into a sophisticated stage by hacking into the interactive network. To prevent this, Section 9 is formed.
These are cyborgs with incredible strengths and abilities that can access any network on Earth.
Probably THE best manga film ever made, Ghost in the Shell is an extremely complex film that demands repeat viewings
(although I can't promess you that you'll understand it even after watching it 10 times!). But so what if the story is mind-numbingly
complicated ? It makes the "philosophy" of the Matrix look like a script from The Telletubies! The graphics
and animations are flawless and impressive and the film itself is thorougly entertaining and original. After all, it did provide
inspiration for films such as The Matrix and I,Robot.
RATING: *****/5 A must-see.
Spirited Away (2001)
This is the story of Chihiro, a spoilt
little girl who believes the world revolves around her and her every whim so when her parents annouce they’re moving
home, she’s far from happy. When trying to take a shortcut to get to their new home, the family accidentally stumble
upon a deserted theme park that turns out to be the home of numerous ghosts and spirits. Separated from her parents, Chihiro
wanders this fantastical Land of Spirits ruled by the sorceress Yubaba in search of a way back home.
This brilliant anime film was written and
directed by Hayao Miyazaki (who also made Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service) and deservedly won the Oscar
for Best Animated Feature in 2003. The base of the story is a little like Alice in Wonderland but Miyazaki’s magical
world is very different. The animation is excellent and the fact that some of the backgrounds were computer animated gives
a 3rd dimension to the film. It is also often funny (Chihiro trips and falls gazillions of times), occasionally
creepy (the No Face character is very strange) and sometimes even moving (the train scene at the end is just beautiful). The
surreal happenings give Spirited Away a unique and unpredictable quality which
makes it thoroughly entertaining. This is an animated masterpiece that can be an almost overwhelming experience the first
time you see it. But seeing it again and again will undoubtebly be a pleasure.
Princess Mononoke may sound like
a sweet little film about a sweet little princess but it’s actually an incredible epic adventure that’s guaranteed
to blow you away. It tells the story of a young boy who, whilst protecting his village from a terrifying monster (it really
is disgusting), catches a curse on his left arm and has to leave the village and find Princess Mononoke in order to stop the
evil curse from consuming him. In his travels he meets countless gruesome monsters, shady characters and has an amazing adventure.
The film can be seen as a symbolic and surreal legend about the creation of Japan.
Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind
Spirited Away has created an incredibly inventive and unbelievably good animated epic. The monsters are genuinely horrible
(the rock-monsters in the forest are sweet but very creepy), there are many inspired sequences, the animation is flawless,
it has a sense of humour, it’s action-packed, touching and it even has occasional gore! To sum up: it has everything!
It’s also notably very long and obviously wants to be a “big” film, which it is. When you see this film,
you’re instantly transported into another world, a magical one at that, and it can be an overwhelming experience on
first viewing: you certainly get your money’s worth that’s for sure! Princess Mononoke is very beautiful and surprisingly
sexy (she is!) in her tribal clothes and face-paint (roarrrr). The celebrity voices in the English version are actually pretty
good with Billy Crudup as the hero Prince Ashitaka, Minnie Driver as the villain Lady Eboshi and Billy Bob Thornton as
the shady Jigo. Is it as good as Spirited Away? Yes, but it is, in my opinion, slightly overlong for an animated film. If
you loved Spirited Away, you’ll love this, I certainly did!.
*****/5 . Thrilling!