Drawn in Japan and cofinanced by Brits, Ghost in the Shell melds a knockout vision of a machine-run cityscape with the spirit of a dreary French art-house movie. Between occasional cyborg shoot-outs, there’s obtuse philosophical dialogue about a future in which ”ghosts” — human souls — frequently reside in biomechanical ”shells.” Most of the whither-humanity blather emanates from the lips of the film’s supercop android heroine, Major Kusanagi (colorlessly dubbed into English in this export version), who wanders through Blade Runner-esque settings while trying to keep an artificial intelligence from downloading itself into her neck. Alas, even if you groove on the movie’s nihilistic look, VHS simply can’t capture the fine detail of director Mamoru Oshii’s animation the way, say, laserdisc could — which makes Ghost in a cassette shell a shadow of itself. B-

Ghost in the Shell
  • Movie
  • 107 minutes