Friday, October 7, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #79: "Ghost in the Shell" (1995)

Movie Stats:
Released 1995 (Japan)
Japanese, in Japanese (the version I saw was dubbed into English)
Director - Mamoru Oshii
Stars - Mimi Woods, Richard Epcar, Tom Wyner

Plot Summary:
In a future where most humans have cybernetic enhancements, a terrorist called the Puppet Master (Wyner) is hacking into people’s bodies. Major Motoko Kusanaki (Woods), part of a top secret police department, is assigned to the case. Epcar provides the voice of Batou, one of Motoko’s co-workers.

Extensive full female nudity (the pelvic region isn’t anatomically correct but the breasts and buttocks are); blue language; violence; gore.

Bad Stuff:
Woods’s performance was quite stilted, more like reading than acting.

For a significant portion of the film, I had no idea what was happening.

I had the hardest time putting my finger on why, but I didn’t care for the dialogue. A lot of the time, it felt like clunky exposition, rather than feeling like the way people actually talk to one another. Of course, I have no way of knowing if it’s that way in the original language.

Good Stuff:
It has so many cool ideas. I really enjoyed the stuff about cybernetics and hacking into people. The scene with the fully human person whose brain was hacked, deleting his real memories and giving him false memories that he will never forget, was surprisingly emotional for me.

The action sequences are awesome and well animated.

I loved the ending. It was so true to the movie and to Japanese anime culture.

The Verdict:
This was a difficult review for me to write. I’m not a big fan of Japanese anime. A lot of it goes right over my head. But I tried to go into this with an open mind because I thought the concept sounded cool. I was right; the concept is very cool. While I didn’t love the film, I liked it in the end*, although I wasn’t entirely sure why. I’m still not. There’s something about it that’s very compelling. I really wish that I hadn’t seen the dubbed version. (I got the DVD from Netflix and this is the version they sent me.) I feel like it would be better in the original language with subtitles. I suspect that a lot of the dialogue was lost in translation and I hope that the Japanese voice actors were better than the English-speaking ones. That being said, it definitely deserves a place on this list.

I give it 3.75 stars.

*I liked it well enough to be concerned/mildly annoyed that they’re doing a live action remake, due to come out in 2017. Although Michael Wincott is in it, so it has that going for it.


Patricia said...

I like the title. It just sounds good. Liking the title will probably be the full extent of my participation, though.

balyien said...

Haha. I typically don't watch anime unless I have to. I've tried to get into it but I think it's just not my thing.