Ghost in the Shell (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Ghost in the Shell (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)I have to get the following off my chest first before we move along.  I have never seen nor do I have any interest in ever seeing the classic anime film Ghost in the Shell.  It doesn’t even intrigue me in the slightest.  I was such a big fan of The Transformers: The Movie was I was kid, but when I recently revisited it on its 30th anniversary Blu-ray I was completely bored out of my mind (with the exception of that still killer soundtrack).  I guess we eventually do grow out of things unless you’re talking Star Wars or Indiana Jones, but I think that goes without saying.  However, we’re not here to talk about those two franchises.  We’re here to discuss all things Ghost in the Shell, hence my original rant up above.  Even though this one is based on the anime of the same name, it’s live action and as an added bonus stars the sexy starlet Scarlett Johansson.  Need I even say more?  I got you at Scarlett, right?  Ha ha.  Now let’s talk some Ghost in the Shell.

Ghost in the Shell


So like I said up above Ghost in the Shell is the live action feature film adaption of the legendary anime movie of the same name by Masamune Shirow.  It directed by Rupert Sanders off  screenplay written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger.  Just beware because sometimes three’s a crowd.  I’m just saying.  This live action adaptation stars Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche.  Ghost in the Shell is set in the near future where the line between humans and robots is becoming very blurred thanks to advancements in cybernetic enhancements.  The plot follows a woman who has her brain placed in a cyborg body to become the perfect soldier.  It just so happens this particular woman is the sexy Black Widow, err I mean Scar Jo!

There’s a lot of controversy with this film.  Let’s discuss some of it here.  First up for me there’s the odd choice of selecting Rupert Sanders as the director.  I’m not saying anything bad about him, but he brings along some baggage here after cheating on his lovely wife with Kristen Stewart.  The way he was caught cheating and exposed is still fresh on the minds of many in the business and the cliche Hollywood inner circles.  Also he only has one other feature film under his belt, the mildly acceptable Snow White and the Huntsman. Here he has to bring to life the most imagined future city spaces since the likes of Blade Runner in my opinion, but more on that soon. What I am getting at is do you think he’s up to this challenge?

Next up, sad but true, there’s the topic of white washing to discuss here.  It’s a very sad world we live in where people get so hung up on the fact that the lead female is being portrayed by a white American actress.  Come on!  It’s an American science fiction film!  You have to cast that box office drawing leading lady.  What is wrong with people?  If this was a film being produced in Asia, I could see the valid reason for people bringing this matter up.  However, once again I remind you this is an American film.  It’s a girl’s brain implanted into a cyborg robotic body.  Do we really live in a world where we are now racially profiling cyborgs?  I guess we sadly do.  Tsk tsk, people.  Get over yourselves.

At least director Rupert Sanders came to the defense of Scarlett by saying “There are very few actresses with 20 years’ experience who have the cyberpunk ethic already baked in. I stand by my decision—she’s the best actress of her generation.” Furthermore, producer Steven Paul addressed the controversy, referring to the setting of the film as “an international world”, stating “There are all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell.  We’re utilizing people from all over the world.  There’s Japanese in it.  There’s Chinese in it.  There’s English in it.  There’s Americans in it.”  Again it’s still very sad people need to make these kind of statements.

We’ll come back to the visual style of it all in a moment, but let’s chat briefly now in regards to what Ghost in the Shell is all about.  Let me paint a visual canvas for you via carefully selected words.  It’s the near future.  Major (Scarlett) is the first of her kind.  She’s a human (sort of) who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.  This is the world we are instantly thrusted into after a brief intro that shows us how the Major was made.  It is kind of West World like in a futuristic way.  So when terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is the only one who is really qualified to stop it.  That’s when the real conundrum starts.  As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved as she has been led to believe all this time.  Let me hit the rewind button here.  She also has to take daily meds that supposedly stops her brain from rejecting her cyber body or do they?  Ahem.  Okay let’s fast forward back to where we were at.  Now she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.  Sounds like a man made weapon gone rogue, huh?  Maybe a bit Jason Bourne-like in a futuristic world?  Bingo!  That ladies and gentlemen in a nutshell is Ghost in the Shell.

Now before we jump into the A/V disc vitals of this set I wanted to briefly talk about what I loved most about Ghost in the Shell outside of Scar Jo starring in it.  I mentioned this up above, but it was the future city scapes that did me in.  Holy hell not since Blade Runner have I been so enamored by a futuristic city location.  I could spend all day looking at all the various visuals this film has to have in just buildings alone (make sure you watch the extras below to see how this was all created).  There is so much to take in here that you can get lost in it all and completely tune out from what’s happening in the film itself.  I’m sure I’ll discover a lot of Easter eggs in just the buildings alone after repeat viewings.  I swore I saw a Konami sign.  So yes in addition to the action here Ruppert scatters giant hologram advertisements around his fictional, futuristic Tokyo to both confuse and mesmerize our eyeballs.  I initially saw this one in 3D IMAX and believe me when I say that it was so worth the inflated price of admission.  All the layers and depth made this cityscapes extra mesmerizing, but I digress since we’re gathered here today to chat about the 2D presentation on 4K Ultra HD.

So I talked a lot about some of the controversies up above.  I neglected to chat about the improper marketing and so on, but more importantly I wanted to finish this film review on a high.  There was at least some good to come out of this.  No doubt about it that Ghost in the Shell received mixed reviews with many criticizing the film for its storyline, stray from the emotional story arcs of the anime feature and lack of character development.  However, it did receive praise for its visual style, effects, acting performances, action sequences and soundtrack.  So there’s always that.  Due to its lackluster earnings compared to the film’s budget I highly doubt though this live action adaptation will ever see a sequel.  While unfortunate that’s the world we live in.  So make the most of and embrace what we have here folks.

Ghost in the Shell


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Ghost in the Shell.  There’s The Fifth Element and Logan on 4K UHD and now there’s one of my newest champions, Ghost in the Shell!

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (I personally love the fact that this one fills up your whole display)
  • Clarity/Detail: What I love about Ghost in the Shell in my 4K viewing of it and while visiting the extras below too is just seeing all the little intricacies of everything that spectacular sets and environments had to offer.  Humans, enhanced and natural, were clearly on display with everything from pores, scars and wrinkles to moles and skin tags visually accessible.  What did me in though were the textures.  Some of the plastic controls looked so much like real plastic I felt like I could reach out and touch them.  So there’s that and I guess you could call them the onscreen textures.  Everything just looked so real and authentic from the fabrics and textures of clothes and environments to the rain puddles that gathered on the surface of objects and flooring.  It’s the little things here that make the BIG difference!  I also love the fact that they employed the use of real pyrotechnics, squibs and more as the many explosions look authentic and real unlike the fake ones used throughout in Fate of the Furious.
  • Depth: The characters all exhibit a very strong three-dimensional pop to them all.  Therefore, even though this isn’t 3D Blu-ray it sure feels like it.  Don’t even get me started on all those eye-popping, gorgeous holograms adorning the cityscapes either.  OMG!  I know this sounds like I’m fibbing, but I’m not.  There’s not a flat scene to be found here.  Every sequence and scene shot just has the ultimate depth of field employed within them from the futuristic cityscapes to the Major standing on top of the roof overlooking it all before her big, fearless jump.  You want to see something really cool?  Wait until the Major visits her relative in the apartment complex.  Holy wow!
  • Black Levels: The black levels, thanks to the HDR, are simply stunning.  This is a very dark movie and I’m pleased to report nothing gets lost in the shadows, absolutely nothing.  The HDR shines through gloriously.  Take in the night club scene for example and you’ll pick up what I’m dropping here.
  • Color Reproduction: Even though it’s a dark, grim tale here the colors employed are still rich, bold and robust throughout from the outfits the geishas wear to the LED and neons of the city signs and instrument controls.  Even more impressive is the visible blue tips of the Major’s raven black hair.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural and authentic throughout this one.  I have zero complaints here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Likewise, there’s nothing I dislike visually about this one.  There’s nothing negative to mention here so let’s move on to tackling that Atmos audio.

Ghost in the Shell


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell.  Both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray Disc employ the same arse-kicking Dolby Atmos surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Dynamics: This one starts very subtle and quiet from the swirling and hypnotizing synth score and slowly builds up in levels of aggression and action as the movie unravels.  The score literally ends up engulfing you as the action immerses you within from the core exploding outwards.  Everything from bullets blasting to glass shattering sound authentic, raw and real.  Brilliantly none of the dialogue ever gets lost in the shuffle either.
  • Height: Various examples of how Dolby Atmos is utilized throughout include but not limited to the following: unraveling of body wraps in the beginning when the Major is being birthed, helicopters over the city, sound effects, overhead zoom of the cityscapes, explosions, water from upper cuts, glass falling, rain falling, debris from blasts and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Bass in this one is strong when it wants to be in moments of the hypnotic and pulsating score, gun shots, various sound effects, a vivacious night club, car demolitions via vehicular ramming, glass breaking and more.  Of course the action scenes are beneficial due to the LFE channel, but there’s also a heftiness to it all like the gigantic Spider Tank utilized in Act 3.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Equally impressive here are the rear channels which also carry the hypnotic and pulsating score, the busy cityscapes, bullets zinging by, deep diving into the mind of a hacked geisha robot, the hustle and bustle of a buys night club, dripping water, explosion blasts and so much more.  The rears are constantly engaged throughout and because of that I’m consistently pleased with this one.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialog levels are loud, clear, strong, understandable and prioritized throughout in the center and directionally in the rears when necessary.  I cannot say a bad thing about this one.

Ghost in the Shell


The Ghost In The Shell 4K Ultra HD set is loaded with over 50 minutes across 3 thought provoking, fascinating special features housed on the 1080p Blu-ray disc.  In addition to all of this you’ll also get the feature in Digital HD redeemable in both UltraViolet and iTunes HD.  It would have been awesome if they could have included an audio commentary with Rupert and Scar or even a Picture-in-Picture track with all the green screen, etc. playing in parallel with the feature.  Oh well.  Let’s take a closer look at the three special features.

  • Hard-Wired Humanity: Making Ghost in the Shell (HD, 30:05) – In this extra Scarlett Johansson, director Rupert Sanders and other cast and crew take you behind-the-scenes to talk stunts, special effects and intricate fight sequences.  This is the meat and potatoes of the extras here, folks.  This one made me a bigger fan of the film than I already was seeing how much love, care and attention to detail went into every scene.  This extra covers everything from casting to a deep dive into the story, history of the anime and themes of the culture and honor of it all.
  • Section 9: Cyber Defenders (HD, 11:29) – Here we have an in-depth look at the real-life science behind robotics.  You’ll discover how cyber-enhancements give each character specialized super–soldier abilities and more.  This one deep dives into the Major’s team of agents, their quests and how diverse the characters are.
  • Man & Machine: The Ghost Philosophy (HD, 10:36) – In the final extra you will learn all about the original anime as well as the inspirations behind the visually stunning view of the future.  This one makes you question what does it mean to be human.  The press release sent to me with this 4K review copy also contained a one sheet that covered how the filmmakers consulted with Hewlett Packard on the feasibility of putting a human brain into a robot shell and how they believed it would all exist.  Pretty cool, huh?  I think so.  I also appreciated the snippets of the original anime here intermixed with the live action sequences seen in the film.

Ghost in the Shell


There you have it folks.  Scarlett looks hot as usual and the futuristic backgrounds are second to none, and honestly I can’t help being smitten by this one.  Outside of the gorgeous 3D this one boasted in theatre, sadly missing altogether on the 4K Ultra HD format, there’s a lot of stunning HDR and Scar Jo beauty going on here.  It’s not an overly exciting or thrilling tale, but it’s that human-AI philosophical dispute/sci-fi experience of it all that ultimately wins me over here.  Maybe the anime feature was groundbreaking back in the day, but the live screen adaption is the world I want to live in.  Don’t discount the exceptional Dolby Atmos audio housed in this 4K Ultra HD presentation either.  We always have that as Transformers fans say.  Unfortunately the lack of significant extras drags the overall score down just a tad here.  While my feelings are not Baby Driver-like on this movie I do still recommend Ghost in the Shell as a Day 1 purchase for any home theater enthusiasts that either love seeing Scarlett in 4K or appreciate the science fiction genre.  I’m still down for a sequel.  #justsayin


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Ghost In The Shell


on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

July 25th




Ghost in the Shell 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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