Ghost in the Shell UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: Set in a world where people are enhanced with technology, GHOST IN THE SHELL follows Major (Scarlett Johansson), who believes she was rescued from near death.  The first of her kind, Major is a human mind inside an artificial body designed to fight the war against cyber-crime. While investigating a dangerous criminal, Major makes a shocking discovery – the corporation that created her lied about her past life in order to control her. Unsure what to believe, Major will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery of her true identity and exact revenge against the corporation she was built to serve.  A “visually stunning” (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly) “classic in the making” (Dan Casey, Nerdist), GHOST IN THE SHELL also stars Takeshi Kitano, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, and Juliette Binoche.

UltraHD Specs
Studio: Paramount
Title: Ghost in the Shell
Audio: Dolby Atmos
Negative Formats: ALEXA 65
Digital Intermediate: 2K
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 Minutes
Director: Rupert Sanders
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano
Review Date: July 20, 2017
Price: $29.99

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Movie Review: Look back to my dorm room during my sophomore year, and you’ll find a Ghost in the Shell poster on the walls. I was probably trying to be cool and edgy (I’m none of those), but I did watch the classic Anime film way back then. Now 20 years later, it has been given a reboot for a live action version, but from the day it was announced (with a white actress playing the lead role), it has been a magnet for controversy.

Set in a future where people are also part machine, Major is the first complete robot with a human brain. Freed from all the things that hold people back, but able to think for herself, Major is a vision of the future. But someone is unhappy with the progress towards this complete robot idea and starts to attack back at the company that is making it all possible.

Ghost in the Shell makes an attempt to probe at some fairly deep questions as to what actually makes us human but then stops short of really trying to answer them. It also winds up with some other curious questions, like why did they make the robot white when her brain was from someone Asian? Why doesn’t she speak the same language as the person that her brain was taken from? Overall all of these things combine to make the movie fall short of its goals. It’s a visually stunning trip through the future, but one that comes up short of its goals.

Technical Review: Ghost in the Shell was shot on an Alexa 65, which provides more than 6000 pixels of resolution for UltraHD, but has a digital intermediate at 2K resolution. The entire film is full of VFX, from the buildings to the character’s appearance, making it likely the 2K DI resolution was chosen to make it easier to render the film in a reasonable time. Despite the drop in fine resolution, the overall image is very good. The film is very dark, and here an OLED makes all that dark shadow detail visible.

There are many scenes where the HDR effects are incredibly well done, including a scene where Major fights a battle in darkness against an electric stun gun that lights up the screen when it is used. The skyline of the city is full of neon and other objects that glow brightly with shades of color that utilize HDR and WCG, and the overall image is very impressive. There isn’t much to complain about here, aside from using that 2K DI instead of the native Alexa65 resolution.

The Atmos soundtrack is well done but doesn’t take full advantage of the Atmos channels compared to other titles. Action scenes usually do a good job of utilizing the height channels, but they aren’t used as often to recreate the ambient sounds of the city as I would like. Vocals are easy to understand, though there are lots of subtitles as well, and the overall soundtrack is good. It just falls slightly short of what some other films are doing with Dolby Atmos today.

Special Features: Three featurettes are available.

Review System: 65” Sony A1E OLED, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.

Review Summary
Title: Ghost in the Shell UltraHD Blu-ray
Reviewer:
Pros: Very good use of HDR and WCG to recreate a future city, good use of Atmos.
Cons: Inconsistencies in the plot drag down the story compared to the original versions.
Summary: Ghost in the Shell is an OK live-action version of the classic Manga, but falls short of the original. The image is good but not the full resolution of the Alexa65 camera used, but overall provides a good AV experience.
Video: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Movie: 3.5/5

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