US Distributor: Funimation
Production Studio: Production I.G.
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network

Ghost in the Shell The New Movie Boxart 001 - 20160827In the near future, man and machine have found themselves utterly entwined, thanks to the advent of cybernetic technology. To keep the peace, the Japanese government instated “Section 9,” a cyber-powered group of soldiers dedicated to fighting off terroristic threats. Within the group, Major Motoko Kusanagi stands as both a decorated soldier, and a leader.

Unfortunately, Kusanagi has recently added “unwilling enemy” to her list of achievements. A mysterious entity, calling itself the “Fire Starter”, is using Kusanagi’s body to commit unspeakable acts. Now, it’s up to Kusanagi, Batou, and the other members of Section 9 to prove her innocence, while stopping the true culprit from making future attacks.

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie’s plot is a nice change-up from the cyberpunk psycho-drama that seems to embody the franchise itself.  That said, though, at times, it does still feel as if the writers wanted to make the story more complex than it needed to be. This is seen throughout the film, particularly near the beginning, as scenes filled with heavy-handed exposition filter into the forefront. While these bits are needed for context, there is a total lack of real action of visual excitement in the first half of the film.  This ultimately leads to a fairly mundane introduction, especially after a brilliant opening action scene.

Ghost in the Shell The New Movie 004 - 20160827The second half, on the other hand, offers fans much of what they were hoping to see. The action ramps up, loose ends are quickly tied, and explanations remain refreshingly brief as the film builds toward its conclusion. If I had any real gripe, it would be that the climactic final action scene is harmed by an insistence on close-up shots. The scene is difficult to really follow due to the dark setting, and many will need to rewatch  a few times to get a full picture of what exactly happened.

Of course, this wouldn’t be Ghost in the Shell without a bit of psychological drama, right? Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie doesn’t disappoint on this end, though it treads on ground that many previous entries have already crossed. Without giving too much away, it deals with the internet.

Ghost in the Shell The New Movie 003 - 20160827Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie is really helped by its lively cast.  Usually, in the Ghost in the Shell world, the crew can be a bit stiff, because they’re a bit older and more battle-worn. In The New Movie, though, the characters are vivid and engaging. They can be a bit one-note at times, but cast members play nicely off one another. They show emotion in their faces, and their reactions actually make sense to the situation. The main antagonist is fairly interesting, as well. Though there’s no surprise as to which character’s impersonating the Major, the reveal stands as a nice twist for fans of the Stand Alone Complex series.

Ghost in the Shell The New Movie 002 - 20160827The film’s dubbing is generally done well, considering that Funimation was able to cast only a few members of the original Stand Alone Complex cast. While it lead to a few curious glances when new actors voiced familiar favorites, their performances weren’t a distraction, nor did they do much to take away from the overall experience.

On a visual level, Production I.G. has done it again. The 2D and 3D models blend beautifully with one another.  In particular, the 3D CGI Logicomas and tanks stood out for their imposing, often intimidating presence.s The hacking scenes are presented well, with a more visual way to tell what they’re doing besides white and green numbers.

Where the Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie really shines, though, is the action scenes. These stunning segments are tense, beautifully paced, and have the potential to put the average summer blockbuster to shame. The only criticism I can offer would be that the close-ups, which are particularly prominent in hand-to-hand fights, are annoying. They cheapen an interesting set piece, and turn excitement into confusion.

Ghost in the Shell The New Movie 001 - 20160827As always, Production I.G. did a great job with Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, even though  this wasn’t their best. The fight scenes were an exciting spectacle, but any scene that isn’t packed with effects or actions seemed to be placed on the back burner.  Out of the entire franchise, The New Movie could be likened to the Ghost in the Shell Arise OVA series, when looking for a similar visual profile.  The film is animated well, but it really doesn’t pushing the limits that Production I.G. or the original Ghost in the Shell are known for.

The Good:

  • Production I.G.’s action scenes are top-notch, as always.
  • The Section 9 crew shows more character than their Stand Alone Complex counterparts, offering more of connection to viewers, and a better explanation for their actions.
  • The second half of the film does a better job at transitioning between the action and the exposition scenes.

The Bad:

  • Some action scenes are hard to see, thanks to unnecessary close ups.
  • The first half of the film feels like a few of the TV and OVA entries, offering little more than exposition.
  • The New Movie can seem muddled at times, due to all of the nods to other Ghost in the Shell titles, combined with dense political intrigue.

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie does its best to combine the philosophical elegance of previous films with the intrigue of Stand Alone Complex. While the film still leans heavily toward the latter, it does make a good try in bringing what fans loved about the old and new properties, alike. That said, despite a somewhat lackluster first half, The New Movie manages to pick up the pace and not let go until the final credits roll. At the very least, Ghost in the Shell fans will certainly feel satisfied with Major Kusanagi’s newest outing.