'Ghost in the Shell'

April 12, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

How's this for big-time movie critic endorsement: "Ghost in the Shell," which opens today at the Charles, is really cool.

An elaborate Japanese animated feature, it's an extraordinary manipulation of image and narrative disguised as a thriller. Set in a "Blade-Runnerized" future (2029), it follows as a Japanese security team tries to prevent a cyber-criminal known as "The Puppet Master" from penetrating a secret diplomatic session. But that's only the top level: It turns out that the bad boy's ambitions are far greater and they involve the souls ("ghosts") of the team, particularly star operative Major Motoko Kusangagi.

Possibly because human motion is so difficult to re-create, most of the characters in Mamoru Oshii's work move without much fluidity or grace; but the design work, the density and detail with which the world of 2029 is created, is absolutely stunning. And Oshii is able to knit together action sequences with extraordinary power and conviction.

Far more accessible than "Akira," the last big sci fi animation hit from "Japan," "Ghost in the Shell" is absolutely terrific.

***; Unrated (mild violence, nudity)

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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