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Blu-Ray breathes new life into "Innocence"
on May 11, 2009
Disregard the other reviews posted here, as they are reviews copied by Amazon for the original standard-def DVD release.
Ghost In The Shell 2 comes alive on Blu-Ray. After an abysmal DVD release that featured no English dub and horrid subtitles, the folks at Bandai went back and ported the film over to true HD glory. It is the best reason to pick up the film if you have a Blu-Ray player.
The first noticeable difference is the inclusion of a full-fledged English dub. For folks who can't stand English subtitles (myself included), this is a breath of fresh air and a great way to watch the film without broken concentration. The dub is surprisingly well voice-acted and atmospheric. There are still some instances where Japanese is overlaid into the film with an accompanying subtitle option that will only translate those particular sentences. One minor gripe is that this particular subtitle option will also give you the English translation of many of the film's Japanese songs as well.
A completely reworked English subtitle option for the Japanese audio track is present here, and omits the ridiculous work of the original DVD, which featured closed captioning instead of true subtitle work.
There are a few bonus features, including a grungy looking behind-the-scenes documentary detailing the themes and creation of the film. Interesting, but not really relevant unless you're dead curious.
The real shine comes in the video playback. The movie is bursting with crystal clear video and vivid, saturated color. I compared the Blu-Ray release to the standard def DVD, and the differences were alarming. Blu-Ray capabilities are utilized so well that I couldn't think of watching this movie any other way, from now on.
The actual movie itself is hit or miss. "Innocence" focuses a lot more on philosophical dilemma instead of blistering action. While the first film balanced soul-searching with some spectacular action sequences, the sequel is more of a detective story set against the backdrop of a world that has lost its mind. As a result, the storyline as a whole can become a wee bit preachy for my tastes, but it's still a fascinating expedition into a vitally important issue: at what point does mechanization and cyberization begin to de-humanize mankind, and what does it truly mean to be human in the first place?
This is a smart movie for smart people. If you're looking for a hyper-edited explosion-fest, you'd best look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a movie that's a cut above the norm in terms of narrative structure and imaginative conception, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence is a definite masterpiece.