In ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ dazzling visuals support a drab plot

There are still some cringeworthy aspects like the fact that Johansson is playing a character who was Japanese in the original manga and anime, that she speaks English to her Japanese-speaking boss Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano), and that there are shockingly few Japanese people in the lead cast as well as in Japan.

Battle of necklines last night in NY for the premiere of Ghost in the Shell.

But as it turns out, she wasn’t saved at all and her whole life has been a lie. Even though the Major is a cyborg with a synthetic shell, the way she is presented does matter.

The new “Ghost in the Shell” is an appealing audiovisual melting pot of all these films and many more. It’s just hard to care about a single thing that’s going on in it. She captures the nuances of an engaging human mind trapped within a prosthetic frame. They soon begin pursuit of a hacker named Kuze (Michael Pitt), and track him through the crime scenes and the data trail he leaves behind. That’s right: before she lived in the body of a white woman, Major was actually Japanese. While the “whitewash” criticism is fair, Johansson also brings a necessary shift away from Major as merely a ridiculous adolescent fantasy. So, the only thing that would seemingly prevent a Ghost in the Shell 2 from happening is simply if it makes money. In the end, if you want to see a well-made superhero movie then this version of Ghost in the Shell is not a bad watch. She doesn’t know who she was before she was all machine with brain attached and has disturbing dreams. Many are upset with Ghost in the Shell because of the whitewashing of the character of Major and others. She operates in a gaudy postwar world in which just about everybody has artificial body enhancements.

Although Shirow’s manga was very popular, it wasn’t until the 1995 animated film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, that the series went from a fan favorite to a genre phenomenon.

The movie deserves the blowback it gets for casting a white woman in an iconic Japanese franchise, and is rightly held up as an example of Hollywood’s deeply unfortunate tendency of stealing characters’ racial identities. The not-so-coded implication seems to be that non-white bodies are less attractive and possibly even defective. Perhaps the Caucasian forces behind Major’s transformation have made her a Caucasian because they believe that’s what a super soldier should look like. In a future where technology enhances the human experience, the Major is the ultimate achievement, a human brain in a fully cybernetic body, fighting crime for the department of defense in a skin suit, which enables digital camouflage.

Juliette Binoche also pops up, as computer scientist Dr. Ouelet, while the baddie is played by Boardwalk Empire and Hedwig and the Angry Inch alumnus Michael Pitt.

Now she must stop the people who did this to her. The result is a setting that’s constantly distracting as you wonder not only how far into the future “Ghost in the Shell” is supposed to be, but what exactly happened to reduce Japanese people to a minority in their own country (a country that is now so homogeneous that its population is now 98.5% Japanese).

Kenji Kawai's Original 'Ghost in the Shell#039 Soundtrack Gets First Official Vinyl Release