This is a spoiler free review. I won't mention any specifics about the plot itself. There is an amazing story twist at the end of the movie which would be ruined if known beforehand.
I've always been a big fan of anime. Ghost In The Shell was one of the first animes I ever saw and it's still the best. As well as the original anime there's also been a partial remake of the original called Ghost In The Shell 2.0, a sequel called Innocence, a series called Stand Alone Complex, a second series called Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, an abridged version of the first series known as The Laughing Man, an abridged version of the 2nd Gig series known as The Individual Eleven, a movie length spin off of the series called Solid State Society and a totally new series called Ghost In The Shell Arise. Then of course there's the original manga comics. There are three story cannons in the animes so it can get a little confusing.
When the live action movie was announced I was excited but at the same time apprehensive especially when I heard Scarlett Johansson would play the lead role. There was also a lot of heated discussion online about Hollywood whitewashing movies and not understanding the nuances and culture of anime. There were requests to boycott the movie.
When the trailer was released I felt a little easier as it was clear that the movie was set in Japan and while a lot of the cast weren't Japanese there was still as least some respect paid of the original anime. I decided not to read any reviews or watch anything more about the movie until it came out so I could have a genuine unbiased opinion of it. I didn't see it at the cinema and instead waited until it came out on DVD/Blu-ray.
I'll likely receive a lot of hate for saying this, especially from anime fans, but I enjoyed the movie. In fact I loved it and will certainly watch it again. Incidentally if you've never seen the Ghost In The Shell anime you'll likely enjoy it even more as you won't be comparing scenes and instead feel you're watching something totally new.
There's a lot of CGI, especially the opening scenes, which gives it an unintentional animated look to it which is a little off putting for a live action movie. The way the movie's lit reminded me a little of The Matrix while the overall style was an exaggerated look of the anime resulting in a Blade Runner feel.
The story begins with an unseen accident where upon a woman is rushed to the hospital having almost drowned. Both her parents died in the accident. She comes too and is shocked to discover she's been placed inside a robot body. A year later she joins a police unit known as Section 9 where upon she swears that she will get revenge upon the terrorist that killed her parents. That's the opening of the movie and I won't say any more than that because of spoilers.
Scarlett Johansson plays the lead character Major Mira Killian and is convincing in her role being both tough and venerable at the same time. The movie also respects the anime in that it's not all about action, there's a lot of computer hacking and intelligence gathering too.
A lot of the scenes are similar to scenes from the original anime as well as its sequel, but shown in a completely different setting. These could be seen as a homage, to please the existing fans, but on a personal level I would have preferred if everything was totally new. It could also be seen as a prequel to the anime especially due to the way it ends, but to be honest it doesn't really matter. With the original anime having three story cannons having a movie outside of that doesn't effect it.
In summary if you're a fan of the anime don't judge this movie until you've seen it in its entirety, but if you've never seen the anime then you're still going to enjoy it.
The Major needs repairs.