Let me start by saying I love all things Ghost in the Shell, expect for the 2017 film this is based on. But, I come to many fanedits to see bad or mediocre movies made better or even great. This edit is one of those. It mimics the flawless 1995 animated film as much as possible. It is clear that the opening of the edit is trying to get as many shot-for-shot scenes as much as possible. I love this. I also love that enough of the backstory of characters is cut to create intrigue around them. It makes me wish for a sequel.
The editor has done a fantastic job of taking something mediocre and turning it into something worthwhile for fans of GitS or people just starting to dip their toes into the franchise.
Technically I found nothing wrong with the edit. There wasn't a scene where I felt this or that felt off. Everything felt solid. I highly recommend this edit if you're remotely a fan off GitS.
* should I watch this edit? If you like cyberpunk aesthetics and action then yes you should.
* is it better than the original cut? Yes it is.
First of all it's important to make a brief statement about the original Ghost in the Shell (2017) movie. It's visually mesmerizing but completely devoid of substance. A shell without a ghost. It's full of cringe moments, most characters are flat as a board, there is virtually no exploration of the philosophical questions the original movie explored.
Second, I find it difficult to completely detach myself from the flaws and failures of the original movie while reviewing this one. So it may be that my review of FairFriend's work ends up being unfair.
I actually rewatched the original movie only a few days before watching this one. And the only scene I end up noticing as missing was the one where Motoko visits her mother. That says a lot about the barnacles the original movie had and that were rightly shaved off.
Improvements that I've noticed:
+ fixing the soundtrack for the opening scene by using the one from the original anime. Yes! That got me excited!
+ removing almost all of the cringe moments
Missed opportunities - things that should have been done to improve this cut but were not:
- dropping the cyber mech liver scene. It's cringy as hell.
- fix the soundtrack of the driving and action scenes. For a Lean and Mean edition this was a seriously missed opportunity here.
Subjective improvements - things that could have been done differently; debatable if it would improve things or not:
- I love Depeche Mode but using that as the credits track was a really bad choice IMO
- like walkerw said in his review, a more ambiguous ending in regards to the last scene of Kuze
- on the final scene, as Motoko is narrating, include a few seconds of Motoko meeting her mom in the cemetery, thus showing a more human side of her and closure
About my ratings:
* The audio rating has nothing to do with quality. It has to do with the missed opportunity for a proper soundtrack.
* The enjoyment score reflects that. As I noticed some of the scenes feeling dull for not having the right soundtrack to them. And if you're going for an action based cut you need to have them to fuel the action.
edit: updated my rating of the audio editing since it's related to quality of editing and not related to preference/enjoyment of the choice of music
I saw the original movie a while a go and was neither impressed nor disgusted by it; it had some good elements but the pacing was weird and a few things felt off.
Here, the story is much more linear and action-packed. And while I really enjoy the slow, contemplative pace of the anime, this "Lean and Mean" live-action version is a breeze of fresh air.
Let's be honest. Rupert Sanders (Director, Snow White and the Huntsman) and the writers (check their filmography) were never going to make a version of Ghost in the Shell that comes close to, let alone attempt to address and further any of the philosophical underpinnings of the original anime.
This edit takes the strengths of the movie that was made and jettisons the rest. What is left is a Ghost in the Shell movie in name only, but I don't think that's an issue.
Instead of attempting everything in half measures, the movie is now a lean (not sure about the mean part), police procedural, action-thriller, with a cyberpunk aesthetic and a lot of fun.
A more ambiguous ending would be great. Lose the end VO. Have Major not address Kuze's question about going with him into the net.
I also think there is time and space to insert, through stock imagery, one of my favorite sections of the original anime. The 'interlude.' Here is a YouTube video digging into it:
That said, maybe it doesn't have a place in this edit.
Regardless. This edit by FairFriend is worth your time and a lot of fun. The chance of getting another big-budget cyberpunk film anytime is slim - this film is partially to blame. So it's nice that this movie can now be enjoyed, casually, for what it is.