Visually: 10 out of 10, with an entire slew of “I see what you did there.” moments. CGI and practical effects carefully honed and it was very clear that Sanders and his team have gone out of their way to at least make the entire thing resemble the original. Largely based on the 1995 movie, although there were bits and pieces of every other installment in there as well. The only thing which I missed were the Tachikomas. (Or whatever other name they go by.)
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6.5 out of 10. She did her best, but only approached the original character which is a tough act to follow from the start. If we take a look at the several different installments thus far, she has always been portrayed as alternating between a matter-of-fact fearless hothead and an icy, introspective being who contemplates about her identity. I still think that a Japanese girl would or at least could have looked better for the role, yet considering the circumstances I’m forced to speculate whether she would have been able to portray the role better somehow in one way or the other and as that shall always remain in the realm of speculation, I shall refrain from continuing about it here.
Storywise 5.5 out of 10, and that’s because I’m feeling generous and there was still enough of the original plot left: the story suffered from the fact that we, the audience, have already been spoiled by the Matrix which took its inspiration from GitS, so we can say that the entire thing has come full-circle, but simultaneously, there is a “been there, done that, seen that already” feel about it. Generic Action Movie alert. Which is a shame really if you think about it, because if the Matrix did prove one thing, it is the fact that the audience in general and the fans in particular aren’t stupid and that they do understand and appreciate a deep, solid story line. This installment had the opportunity to venture in just as deep, but instead, a compromise had been made between the orginal and the outside world consisting of people who may not even have heard of GitS. A compromise which I think hurts the movie more that it should have done. Granted, this is only a single movie and there is so much original material that a selection or a cut-out might be difficult to do as the question inevitably presents itself: ,,What to leave in and what to cut out?” but again, the first installment of the Matrix was also a single movie and why did that instantly dove into the deep from the onset and this version continued to have a shallow feel to it? Even so, for those who claim that this is: ,,Just another generic action movie.” Let me play the Devil’s advocate here by asking that if we look back the the previous installments thus far, there was always plenty of action to be found and no one complained about that, so why complain about it now when it looks almost identical to the original sequences? (I already know the answer, so don’t bother to respond, as it was almost entirely a rhetorical question.)
A thought on the side: when the manga was released in 1989, the prediction that humans would be perpetually connected to the internet and that cybernetic implants would replace or enhance people was revolutionary enough, but nowadays, now that at least parts of that prediction have turned into a reality, the GitS franchise as a whole is starting to show its age and with it, the origininality of the story may also have an ageing feel to it.
And even when we don’t take the above remarks into account, it may be argued that storywise was were it started to go somewhat off the rails, as if the authors of the script had to come up with an excuse as to why the whitewash. (And no, I didn’t join the SJW whitewash-bandwaggon as I found its tone to be too hysterical and I wanted to give SJ an unbiased, decent shot at the role.)
In all, as a manga/anime the GitS franchise is a solid albeit ageing one but this movie proves its frailty as it tries to bridge the gap between the Anime and the real world. And we all know that that concept has been tried before and failed miserably. So in spite of all of its robustness, GitS is almost like a Sakura. If you love it too much, you’ll crush it. I will consider this movie to be an honest try and therefore legitimate installment of the franchise, albeit a weaker, if not the weakest adaptation thus far. To me, SJ isn’t the Major, no matter how much I wanted her to be her. Unlike Keanu Reeves who shall always remain Neo, SJ is Lucy or Black Widow or any of the other roles she has had and continues to rack up but this role proved to be her bridge too far. Sorry SJ, keep doing what you’re doing, but Major Kusanagi Motoko is herself and those shoes have proven to be too big to fill, even for you. Again, to reiterate myself, you are the embodiment of the compromise, both with regard to your appearance as well as the storyline, between the original source material which was previously only known by the fans and the rest of the outside world and the endresult has suffered for it.