Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ghost in the Shell (Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai)

Reviewing the movie version of Ghost in the Shell is an incredibly tall order. First of all, there are a few different versions of the original movie. There's the original theatrical version and then there's the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 version that is changed up a bit in much the same way that George Lucas tinkered with his original Star Wars movies after the initial releases. 

However, I watched the 25th Anniversary blu-ray edition of the movie that essentially is the same as the original 1995 theatrical version so that's the one I'm going to review. Although just how the hell a movie that's younger than me could turn 25 before me is something I'm not sure I understand. I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume that the "25th Anniversary" tag is referring to the manga that started in 1989. That bit of dissemination aside let's plow ever onward. 

I could take a few weeks writing about Ghost in the Shell. It's the kind of movie that nerdy kids in college should write thesis papers about. It's a dense movie. I understand the basic plot, but some of the themes escape me. The pacing itself is a bit unusual. There's some iconic fighting and shootouts, but the larger portion of this movie is dominated by a more cerebral aspect. 

I've heard this movie described as being everything from "overhyped" to being "underrated," but I don't think I've ever heard being called "bad." However, I've almost always seen the movie being listed as one of those that you just either get or you don't since it's pretty hardcore on the cyberpunk stuff.

In this futuristic world most humans are cybernetically-enhanced, but other humans are entirely cybernetic with only their brains left human. Then there are those that are completely cybernetic. Using this cybernet a cyber criminal known as the Puppet Master successfully manages to "ghost-hack" people's minds and his naughty behavior has put him on Major Kusanagi Motoko and Public Security Section 9's radar.

But the true nature of the Puppet Master is something that can't be easily understood and being arrested would mean very little to the Puppet Master in a world where life depends almost solely on computers. Thanks to technology the Puppet Master is everywhere or could be even if his physical body isn't.

But the sexiest cybernetic Major of all time is one tough cookie and she seems up for the challenge.

Before The Matrix existed there was this film and I'm not sure if that movie could have existed in the same fashion without this one. Although not born into a program, many of these characters were born as a program. The Major herself was born (or "created") with this ability to uplink to the net via holes in the back of her neck. When uplinked she could communicate with her mind, become one with the uplinked device, or dig up information. This literally put the vast information on the internet inside of her. Or maybe it put her inside of the internet. It's tough to say. Maybe it was a little of both.

This movie is also pretty heavy on the philosophy. I thought it was odd how the Major was somewhat sexy even though the her character and the movie itself seemed devoid of a sexual identity. As a cybernetic organism, the Major strips nude to enter her stealth mode where she becomes invisible to the naked eye. Her Predator impersonation is really cool and seeing her tatas is also cool, but the purpose seems more important than the methods in this world. She does it so she can turn invisible, jump off a building, and then kill a motherfucker in the building while still mid-air. Her stripping off her clothes isn't sexualized even though the action itself should be sexy. In a way it still is sexy because men are pigs and boobies are boobies, but this is a really cold movie in a cold world. What she is doing should be the definition of sexy just because it's so badass, but it isn't. This world, from the start, is a bit colorless despite its advances. Or maybe because of those advances it's colorless.

The Major and all of the other characters might as well not have had a sexual identity at all since so much of their world is inorganic. In fact, I think the Puppet Master might've been the truest character of all as far as the sexual identity goes.

Yet there are a few key moments where these characters act human. But that seems to be because their programming allows them to. If the Major gets drunk she can do so while on duty because her programming can instantly fix her good as new and ready for combat.

At another time a character named Batou looks quickly away when he sees the Major nonchalantly taking off her clothes. Is he choosing to view the Major as someone retaining feminine sexuality or is it that he's just trying to act how a normal human male would act? Or maybe he's behaving that way involuntarily. Maybe it's just his cyberbrain acting up...

For a movie that is 20 years old this movie really seems like something close to being scary real. The idea that your thoughts could be hacked is scary. The idea that someone can screw around with your memories and change what you see in old photographs to further their agenda is scary. In this world people are data that can be exploited.

We are getting closer to that point.

See how I could write for weeks about this shit? I just might, too. There's the anime series and a few more movies to dive into. Should be fun talking more about lunatic computer conspiracies!

And of course this movie is highly recommended to anyone that's a fan of anime, cyberpunk themes, and/or just damn good movies It's a classic for a reason.

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