'Ghost in the Shell' replicates a sci-fi classic

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To celebrate, we host an image gallery of stills and artwork from the film, along with details of the Ghost in the Shell steelbook that can already be pre-ordered, and a new Paramount behind-the-scenes clip titled "Major Action". Michael Pitt also has a couple deliciously villainous moments (when doesn't he?) as cyborg Kuze, but he's mostly underutilized in the film.

Eventually the movie gives up the Ghost, and settles for a gorgeous shell. The rest of the characters are lifeless, and for all the exposition in the film's opening, the plot races along so quickly that it hardly makes sense.

A niche genre that is becoming harder and harder to break new ground in, means all we ask for is an engaging and enjoyable ride which this iteration of Ghost in the Shell adequately delivers. It combat, it camouflages with its surrounding environment, and the resulting fight scenes - Major's body a mere blur, a disturbance in the water, a shimmering in the air - are more thrilling and unpredictable for it.

Paramount Pictures surely thinks and hopes that Johansson's star power and box office draw will overshadow the backlash, and draw in the vast majority of ticket buying audiences. As such, no one was really surprised director Rupert Sanders' live-action adaptation, featuring Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, was partly shot in Hong Kong.

The thing is that this argument - and the larger, behind-the-screen discussion about how Asians and Asian-Americans are portrayed, or perhaps more accurately not portrayed, in American media - is far more interesting than most of what's on the screen in "Ghost in the Shell".

Scarlett Johansson does an excellent job of playing a machine - but those looking for a warmer version of the plot may want to tune into the 1995 edition of the film.

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Human parts inside a robot body in the "Ghost in the Shell" anime.

Her body was destroyed by accident but Major's brain is preserved and placed in an nearly indestructible robot container.

Screenwriters Jamie Moss and William Wheeler do provide crisper dialogue and a more polished narrative than the original film, but it's a tale still rooted in overwrought tropes and stale clichés. Like Doctor Strange, The Great Wall and Iron Fist before it, Ghost in the Shell is premiering under a wave of controversy about "whitewashing" Asians out of movies, roles and stories that ideally should have belonged to them. You will certainly see a lot of similarities to "The Matrix" franchise, as the Wachowskis pretty much used "Ghost in the Shell" as their guide to make their own heralded sci-fi franchise (all the way down to people having network portals in the backs of their heads). It's a visually impressive sequence, for sure.

But when someone starts murdering and "hacking" scientists from the global technology company Hanka Robotics, Major finds herself "deep diving" into a mystery that could completely change the way she views her world.

Story problems aside, Ghost in the Shell is visually handsome.

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