When Ghost in the Shell came out in theaters I ended up writing a review, a commentary on whitewashing, and a piece taking on a THR interview of 4 Japanese women talking badly about the movie. I was really appalled by this controversy. I really felt that most of this controversy was just controversy for controversy sake. If you look at the film’s acting, story, and direction it is really well done. It was a great film. The problem is everyone had pre-conceived notions or just wanted to be mad because they put a Hollywood star into a role instead of a Japanese woman.

I’m not going to rehash all of that again. I’m tired of beating the dead horse. I’ll leave links for those 3 articles below if you want to see what I had to say.

In a nutshell Ghost in the Shell was a fantastic sci-fi film full of amazing set, special effects, and kickass action. A smidgen of my initial review said, “I thought the film moved at a great pace until we got to the third act. It was fairly action packed and I thought Scarlett did a great job in both the dialogue scenes and the action scenes. Plus she looked great in the skintight suit that the Major wears.”

Now Ghost in the Shell is finally available on digital and, soon enough, home video. I’m hoping that once people forget all about the “controversy” it’ll become a fan favorite in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Usually I’ll have the Blu-ray of a film I enjoy so I can review the special features that come with.  However this time around I only have the digital copy.  What does that mean?  That means that while my digital copy does have special features it only has TWO special features.  Now, to be fair, Vudu does give me the trailer as well so I can consider that three special features, I guess.  The only other really great thing is that even though there is only two special features each of them is approximately 30 minutes in length.

The first featurette is titled Hard-Wired Humanity: Making Ghost in the Shell.  It is 30 minutes in length and does go pretty in-depth which I liked.  Producer Avi Arad talked about the struggles trying to bring this film to life over the course of 9 years.

Director Rupert Sanders talks about the daunting task of filming a film this big.  They go over the ideas from script to screen including casting, gender-bending, and filming at Weta in New Zealand.  It really gets in with the casting choices and all of the main actors from the cast (Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Juliette Binoche) talk about their casting, their characters, and what they brought to the role.

I was really impressed by Michael Pitt who really got into his character.  The featurette really gets in deep on what Pitt did to prepare for the role.  I don’t know Pitt from my many films (Sandra Bullock’s Murder by Numbers immediately comes to mind) but after seeing him in this movie and featurette I may have to seek out some of his more recent work.

The featurette shows how Weta was essential in the filmmaking process from designing the effect shots to the costumes to the cars to the look to even filming on the massive sound stages.  I really can’t believe what Weta Workshop is capable of.  It is truly stunning.  They also show how they would build these sets inside the sound stages and really show how much of this film is against a green screen.  Damn – I give it to actors.  I get that acting is playing make believe but these actors are playing make believe with nothing there.  Zip.  Nada.  The way they make all of these big budget films really shocks me.

There’s a good amount of Scarlett Johansson here as she talks about the role, her process, and the scope of Ghost in the Shell.

The second featurette is really a 28 minute documentary called Inside the Shell.  Also titled an alternative look at Ghost in the Shell, the director is a man named Ed Gill who was there during the entire production of Ghost in the Shell.

Who is Ed Gill?  That’s what I asked to but it turns out that Ed is an old art school friend of Rupert Sanders.  So Sanders allowed Gill to walk around with free reign to everything during production, allowing him to just shoot everything.

That is a good friend.  DAMN!  I went to school with Scott Lark and am fraternity brothers with Frank Krueger but neither even invited me to stand around a set for two seconds during the making of a music video or movie.  But Ed?  Ed gets to walk around for three months shooting his little doc.  To say I’m jealous is an understatement.

I guess the best thing about this featurette is it doesn’t look slick.  It doesn’t look super professional.  It’s not something that the studio put together to sell the film.  It just seems like this is just a regular guy filming a movie with a bit of a budget.  I really enjoyed it and thought it was one hell of a special feature.  I wish studios (or directors) would do this more often.

All in all these were two great featurettes.  I wish there was more to it for the digital release but I am certainly happy with what I got.  I like this movie enough where I may just pick up the Blu-ray down the line anyway so here’s hoping there may be a tad more on the actual physical disc.

MOVIE RANK: B+

SPECIAL FEATURES RANK: A-

Click here for the original Ghost in the Shell review.

Click here for the Ghost in the Shell, Anime, & Whitewashing article.

Click here for the THR: 4 Japanese Actresses Talk Ghost in the Shell rebuttal article.