In 1995 director Mamoru Oshii unleashed Ghost in the Shell on the world. Based on the philosophy-heavy science fiction comic by Masume Shirow the movie met with little success on its release, showing for only two weeks in native Japan and clocking only a hundred thousand viewers in 1995. Since then it has gone on to become one of the most successful must-see anime features to date. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 revisits the original movie, bringing it up to date with modern cinema and home entertainment technology, ready for a cinema and BluRay re-release. From the opening shot, panning down into a detailed wireframe cityscape, to the similar but reversed shot which bookends the movie, we are treated to a lovingly crafted redux which enhances the original with re-recorded dialog, newly mixed and enhanced audio, colour-corrected 2d animation, and new full-CGI scenes.
The most obvious change to the movie is the new CGI sequences, in particular the opening sequence with Kusanagi leaping off the building to assassinate a foreign diplomat has been completely redone in full CGI. While the quality of these new scenes doesn't compare to the likes of Pixar's groundbreaking digital animation, they are nevertheless high quality. Other than the new scenes, the traditional animation in the rest of the movie has been retouched significantly, mainly through colour correction and filters. The overall colour palette is a lot more understated than the original, which makes everything look a lot more natural and less "cartoony". At times the colours have been washed out slightly, that when combined with the faintly misty filter, contributes to the noir vibe of the movie.
Arguably the best improvements to the movie (since there are die-hard fans who will argue against the visual changes) is the audio. This isn't entirely surprising since the whole impetus for the 2.0 version of the movie came from a conversation with Tom Meyers about the idea of him redoing the audio for Ghost in the Shell. Overall the audio is crisper, clearer, makes better use of the surround sound channels, and just generally sounds great. A lot of sound effects have been redone and sound punchier and more realistic, in particular the gunfire sounds in the movie stood out as being worlds better than the original sounds.
I did have one gripe with the movie; The new full CGI sequences for Kusanagi are so clearly modern that the cut from them back to the original 1995 cel animation was quite jarring, in fact at times it almost felt like two different movies had been spliced together. Luckily the "computer" sequences and the scenes involving layered cel animation and CGI blended a lot more comfortably with the rest of the movie. On the topic of gripes and visual changes, some reviewers have taken issue with the new colour palette, complaining that the faded and slightly misty look lacks the punch of the original scenes.
While many will at first approach with the hesitant fear of having fond memories stomped on like certain other "enhanced releases" rest assured that nothing has been lost (with the exception of the few sequences that have been redone in full-CGI). Hitting UK cinemas on 2nd October, 2009, any existing fan - and lovers of anime and science fiction in general - would be mad to miss this opportunity to see one of the greatest anime movies ever made on the big screen. Also worth noting is that the Blu Ray release will include the original unaltered movie, so you get the best of both worlds!