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There are a couple of issues but it is still worth buying for the Ghost in the Shell Fan..
on November 8, 2009
Ahh...Ghost in the Shell. The 1995 movie based on the manga that was called by some the second coming of Akira. I can't help but agree with that. So here we are almost 15 years later and we now have a sequel, a spin-off TV show, with a TV movie and it's influence is seen in movies such as "The Matrix." Now we have GitS 2.0, which is not a sequel (though I can see why people could be misled into thinking that.) but a redone version of the first movie. The colors has been changed and some CG has been brought in to replace the old animation. Its supposed to look more like the sequel, "Innocence," but honestly it looks weird since the original movie was made 9 years before the sequel. But I'm not going to review the movie itself, I'm just going to tell you why you should buy this on Blu-Ray.
The first thing all you purists need to know, the original Ghost in the Shell is included on the disc in HD. It doesn't look that great but it looks better than the DVD for sure. Also, the transfer is not the DVD master from the 2005 re-issue simply upconverted (contrary to popular belief), it is the Blu-ray master from Japan. They didn't really clean up the film but this is pretty much the best it's ever going to look unless Bandai, Manga or Production IG want to put up the money for a full re-master.
Which brings us into the new 2.0 version. This puppy has demo worthy video. The animation has been nicely cleaned-up, the new CG pops, and the re-mixed soundtrack (which I'll get back to in a minute) can bring the house down. This is one of the best animated Blu-rays out there, up there with "Cars," "Wall-E," and "Akira." While consistency is off thanks to the new CG, new colors and old animation, but this is not the fault of the transfer.
The soundtrack for the original Japanese version has actually been thrown out the window completely. Not only are there new sound effects, but the original cast has re-recorded all their lines, with one exception: the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master was originally voiced by a man, and has now been replaced by a woman. Also the song that plays in the background during the market chase with Batou has been removed. It is such a small thing that people probably won't notice (but I brought it up for a reason).
Now, I'm going to be honest, I'm a fan of the English dub of GitS in all of its forms. When this was announced I thought for sure they would re-dub the movie with the new GitS: Stand Alone Complex cast. This is not the case. They used the original dub from 1995 for this version (So Mimi Woods is playing Motoko, not Mary Elizabeth McGlynn from the SAC dub.) with the new sound effects thrown in. Which brings us to a inconsistency because in the 2.0 version the Puppet Master is supposed to be played a female, but instead, is still played by a man, since this is literally the same dub. This isn't the only inconsistency, the song from the marketplace is now back in the movie. There some other small gripes but only the hardcore fan would notice.
Now onto the extras. They consider the old version of the movie as a extra, and it is a pretty cool extra, having both versions in HD. Then we come into a couple of weird quirks. On the box, it says there is a commentary with the director, as well as a making of feature for 2.0. What we get is a making of feature....for the original movie and a theatrical trailer...for the original. Along with come bios and glossary. The features on the box are no where to be found, which is quite a big gaff. Maybe future re-prints will correct this but as of now, the features on the box are not there. To me, it isn't a big deal, but it kind of sucks that we don't get what the box promises.
All in all this is a must buy for every GitS fan. Not only do you get the new version of this movie, you get the original in HD. That way, you get the best of both worlds. Everyone else, give this one a rental, because this is really for the fans.
EDIT: 9/29/11 - The included original version of Ghost in the Shell is not the HD master from Japan. It is a laserdisc master, upconverted to 1080i. Also, they've fixed the back cover in later prints to have the correct features on the back. I still recommend this if you're a fan.