Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008) Review

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Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (Kôkaku kidôtai 2.0) (2008): 7 out of 10: The original Ghost in the Shell is an easy 9 out of 10 and is one of the best animes ever made. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 isn’t a sequel to that original anime but a re-release with some scenes redone in CGI instead of the original style.

Not the entire movie, mind you, that would be a conversation worth the candle. Instead, it is just a few select scenes. Does the new CGI look better? Um, not particularly as it consistently clashes with the other art style still present and, as a result, the CGI insertions bring the focus out of the story and instead to the constantly changing animation.

What is strange is the CGI itself really isn’t even that good. Not for today as of this writing, of course, but it really isn’t that good for the time either. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within this is not. The CGI doesn’t blend in with the rest of the movie as you might have seen in Beauty and the Beast, for example. Instead, it acts as if the film is changing its aspect ratio at random. (I have suffered through the latter in a few films and that is a nightmare.)

This should be like remastering a video game. One would think there is no way to lose on that front after all the graphics are better and the game plays smoother. Alas, it should come as no surprise that the video game industry is chock full of remasters that screwed up the original. From the cheap and sloppy removal of fog in the Silent Hill 2 remaster to the foolish decision to replace running and gunning with a lame quick time event in the climactic battle of Lara vs. the T. Rex in the Tomb Raider remaster.

Doing a remaster (okay, partial half-assed remaster) like this differs from cleaning up a print. You are in danger of ruining the original for people. The excellent news is that the original Ghost in the Shell is available unmolested, unlike those poor victims of Lucas.

Bottom line, skip Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and see the 1995 Ghost in the Shell. It is both the same movie, and it is a much better experience.

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