Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 (should be R) for extreme animated violence
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles
Japanese serial turned anime spectacular turned computer game, Ghost 2 has all the elements of a drop-dead animated classic combined with the tiresome violence of ubiquitous arcade entertainment.
Mamoru Oshii follows up his hugely influential Ghost in the Shell (1995) with this long-awaited sequel that effectively blurs the lines between humans and machines. Its modern hero Batou is cyborg circa 2032, a rogue detective for the government’s covert anti-terrorist unit investigating the gruesome case of a female robot designed specifically for carnal companionship (a gynoid) who has allegedly gone berserk and slaughtered her keeper (hear the video ka-ching, ka-ching?).
Has the malfunctioning gynoid been discarded and turned vagrant? Batou digs deeper into the case while the concept of humans recreating themselves in the images of pleasure dolls rears its ugly plasticine head. Gory serial kills leave nothing to the imagination, detailing such sanguineous fare as evisceration by kitchen implements and Pulp Fiction-esque weaponry and bloodshed.
The provocative soulful machinery issue brings every childish Chatty Cathy nightmare to the surface. Script deals heavily in Zen philosophy, reflecting somewhat eloquently on the art of happiness as a nostalgic value and God’s everlasting geometry.
Eerie in the extreme, Ghost 2 relies on its remarkably sumptuous visuals to create an atmosphere pregnant with tension. A magnificent parade of luminous elephantine figures is an absolute mastery of its craft worth every penny of admission.
Ultimately it all comes crashing down. The last act panders solely to the vid-kids, forsaking the essence of its intricate beauty for the perpetual worship of the Xbox generation and its legion of adolescent fans.