Ever since George Lucas got on his high Tom-Tom declaring movies are never finished, audiences were left with a bad taste in their mouth as we watched Greedo shoot first and a CGI Jabba slither about. So you can imagine how one would react to Ghost in the Shell 2.0, a remaster/upgrade of the first Ghost in the Shell film (as if it needed one). However, Ghost in the Shell is one of the few anime movies I'd love to have on Blu-Ray. And while this isn't quite the release I was expecting, it's still a damn good Blu-Ray.
Unlike what George Lucas did with Star Wars, Ghost in the Shell 2.0 doesn't add any new scenes or new characters that clash with the story. Rather the production team used the latest CGI to recreate certain shots. Some of these shots clash a tad with the animation specifically the scenes with Motoko scuba diving and nude skydiving. I'm not sure these scenes needed to have her rendered in CG (probably just as an excuse for some CGI boobs), but they look extremely gorgeous as if there was a hefty budget behind this upgrade. Where the new CGI really excels is in the 'map' scenes. In the original, those scenes looked like Tron with green triangles moving between green squares. The updated CGI has much more detail and is lot more pleasing to the eye. The rest of the CGI is used on some of the helicopter scenes and external shots, displaying beautiful renderings of a futuristic society. One of the film's best is the ending shot which is 10x better looking and better shot than the original.
It's important to note that the newly rendered footage compromises only about 25% of the movie. The original 2D animation footage is beautifully remastered and looks as vibrant as it should for a Blu-Ray release. Thankfully, GitS 2.0 doesn't use CGI over the classic sequences of the film such as the raining sequence and the tank fight. This is surprising as I was sure those would be the first two scenes to have new CGI. Color me surprised. There are a number of other changes to the soundtrack and Japanese voice actors, but the biggest one that sticks out is the color scheme. In the original, the film had a blue and green tint to it. GitS 2.0 has a bright orange palette similar to the tone for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Maybe the director wanted to pull the movie out of being associated with The Matrix.
Extras-wise, it's a bit disappointing.The Blu-Ray includes the same extras present on the past DVD releases (featurette, trailer, text interviews, text biographies, text glossary). For the purists who prefer Ghost in the Shell the way god intended, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the Blu-Ray includes the original GitS. The bad news is that it seems to be ripped from an older, scaled-up copy as there is lots of dirt and line-noise present. So don't throw out your remastered DVDs quite yet.
DVD Rating Scale:
-Full Retail Price
-Skip this Bitch
While not quite the definitive Ghost in the Shell release lacking in new extras and commentary (considering the packaging falsely advertises this), Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is an interesting experiment that if nothing else can serve as tasty eye candy for your HDTV. Purists should stick to their DVDs, but if you've never seen GitS before or you're a casual fan who hasn't seen it in awhile, you'll be in for quite a treat. It won't replace the original, but it certainly isn't an eyesore and it deserves at least one viewing.