Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was produced in 2004 uses a combination of traditional hand-drawn cell animation, as was seen in the predecessor Ghost in the Shell, as well as computer animation. This combination proves distracting at times. Part of what makes any film work is the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. We ignore that we are watching a film. Often this works and we are caught up in the sweep of the story. However, when we are reminded that we are watching a film–by actors looking at the camera, by bad special effects or laughable performances–the illusion fails. Here the illusion is broken by the mix of animation types which is distinct and jarring.
The visuals are stunning despite the mix of CGI and traditional animation. However, that is the sole bright moment of the film. The “acting” of the characters is mediocre. Often there is the stone-faced substitution for emoting that is reminiscent of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. The characters often stand and stare at each other or the audience without moving. Additionally the writing veers from excellent to blunt and trite. The plot is an interesting corporate conspiracy mystery, but the reliance on many direct quotes from literature is no substitute for good writing. The quotes come from famous individuals like Buddha, Descartes, and Marx as well as classical poetry from Japan and China and even a little Paradise Lost from John Milton.
Whatever charm there was in Ghost in the Shell is missing in this sequel. All that remains is the lengthy philosophizing which was the former’s largest weakness. Give this one a pass unless you are on an anime kick.