Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Reviewed by 1. Adrian Sim 2. Sinnerman
Director: Oshii Mamoru
Writing Credits: Shirow Masamune, Oshii Mamoru
Genre: Animation Sci-Fi
Voice Credits: Otsuka Akio, Tanaka Atsuko
Year released: 2004
Runtime: 99 min
1. Review by Adrian Sim
To my dismay, Innocence is pretty much a vapid exercise in philosophical indulgence and stylistic excesses. The mysticism that made the darker original enthralling is gone. Well, at least the original had a believable and coherent plot.
Here, Oshii opts for a more labyrinthe-like narrative that really complicates matters. There really isn't much to the plot and the film can be summed up in a few stanzas and a shorter running time. Worse, Oshii has his characters philosophize that had me scratching my head most of the time.
Despite its major shortcomings, Innocence does have interesting things to offer... ravishing visuals that really brings to mind some of the great sci-fi-ers (Blade Runner) and film noirs. Opting for a more colorful palette, Oshii has created a fantastical and dreamy universe in Innocence compared to the more dystopic one in the original.
However, whatever interest evoked by the stunning imagery in Innocence is doused out by the befuddling narrative and Oshii's annoyingly heavy-handed direction. Mamoru Oshii's films aren't easy to sit thru'. The best thing I can say is they are neatly atmospheric.
Hopelessly enmeshed in its bigheaded themes of humanity and blatantly preachy to the point of pretentiousness, this is a clunker of a film best appreciated for its vision and concept.
2. Review by Sinnerman
Apologies if my below comments come off as too "blah" for you knowledgeable experts (I am genuinely impressed with you bunch of geeks this afternoon). I'm an anime virgin after all and will hence opt to base my comments on a purely cinematic (and deeply personal) perspective....so here goes.
I think Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Innocence: Ghost in Shell 2 (2004) have different objectives...
Ghost in the Shell possessed a stately and pensive vibe that's so intoxicating, I thought I died and ascended into Kieslowkien heaven. The Major, in particular, was such a charismatic protagonist, I am instinctively mesmerized by her presence. Very moving.
Innocence, on the other hand, did not seem interested to rehash this "mood". It is confident enough with being just a top notch police procedural (i.e., without fear of comparison with Ghost in the Shell). That said, along the way, philosophy 101 tidbits were also generously spread onto it like icing on a (very delicious) cake. But of course, there is something "hollow" about it which I can't quite put a finger on....Actually, I can, lah; I missed The Major. I wanna see more of what she represents. I wanna see her as the emotional/intellectual anchor of this story. Her myriad doubts and struggles in Ghost in the Shell were so heartfelt and identifiable, the empathy generated brought on tiny quakes and aches to my entire being. Now, how then can Innocence live up to my lofty expectations? Its sheer greed on my part, lah. Ignore me.
In closing, my subjective take is this; Technically, Innocence is a leapfrog of an improvement. Intellectually, both are supremely generous (Innocence more so than Ghost in the Shell). But in the area of thematic depths and character developments, I think Ghost in the Shell is unparalleled.
Boils down to your movie preferences, methinks.
But like the best of such (hopefully) continuing sagas, me think they complement each other extremely well. Bring on Stand alone complex and Ghost in the Shell 3!