Any hopes that "Ghost in the Shell" will live up to its pedigree vanish before your eyes.
Impressive visuals and the talents of Scarlett Johansson get lost in the convoluted swirl of a plot that starts off silly and makes less sense as it meanders along. Exhausting and convoluted, the movie seems like a sad, dated attempt to recapture 1990s sci-fi conventions.
The movie is based on the 1989 manga, which inspired the 1995 anime that inspired the flood of cyberpunk titles of the era, led by "The Matrix" films, and is still a favorite of pot-smoking dorm bros worldwide.
The live-action adaptation is just as forgettable and inconsequential as the anime was memorable and influential.
The casting of Scarlett Johansson initially drew controversy because her hair and makeup appeared to try to make her look Asian. While she does have a little "Lost in Translation" thing going on here, it's generally harmless. Besides, Johansson's character is an ethnicity-less cyborg case for a lab-generated consciousness.
If you're going "huh?!?" at this point, there's little reason to dive any deeper into the cyberslop muck of whatever. It's best just to check out mentally and try to endure the movie for its action merits. Johansson is Major, a hitwoman of sorts sent out by a corporation to scan and take out nefarious targets.
Her powers are pretty cool. She can jump from any height and stick the landing like Simone Biles. She can disappear at will and jack into a program that lets her explore the source code of robotic enemies.
I hear she also streams Netflix and doubles as a mobile hotspot.
There's a big twist that makes Major question her missions, her handler (Juliette Binoche) and her human lineage, but scenes that played with mind-blowing insight in the anime just look dorky and ridiculous in live-action form.
Decades from now, when Scarlett Johansson is getting lifetime achievement awards, snippets of her in a bad wig as Major will pop into her career montage as comic relief.
"Ghost in the Shell" is like those late-night Snapchats you regret sending out and facepalm when you realize there's no getting them back.
RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4.