Ok, so GITS the movie has definitely exceeded my expectations, which were colored by teh interwebz. That's the last time I listen to your opinion, cyberspace!
It is definitely CPAF, but with some unique texture to it. The obligatory Blade Runner cityscape-age is redolent of the Total Recall remake, to me. Lives up to Masamune Shirow's brainchild, I feel, even if it's slightly Hollywoodized. It takes Ghost In The Shell 1, throws it in a blender, and reassembles the sinew and bone and synapse back together such that you recognize the DNA (the thermoptic-camo water fight, the self-mutilating kill of the spider tank scene are near-verbatim) but with a wholy unique story.
It doesn't quite take GITS to the next level, asking or answering any questions posed by the highly-philosophical, metaphysical series, nor does it pioneer into previously unmapped territory, cinematically speaking a la The Matrix, but it does have it's own unique 'self'. Its own original 'ghost', if you will, and not just another popcorn action thingy. (Although we scarfed multiple refills of large, heavily buttered popcorn for this flick! It's got teh actionz, no doubt!)
There's been a lot of CG tricks and such with regards to humans with prosthetics, androids, (Ex Machina the most recent exploration thereof) but the way the Major is handled has that 'lived in' sense, that gritty reality to it, as she is fighting her brain's embodiment into this foreign, corporate-perfected husk of synthetic nerves, steel, and alabaster dermis. You get the sense, from ScarJo's performance, that she is in fact going through a sort of bodily dysphoria, and social alienation, as she attempts to adjust to her new 6-million-dollar-body.
I was also surprised by how well they handled Motoko Kusanagi's transformation into the Platonic (and very much caucasian) 'ideal beauty', and the scene with the mom was deeply touching.
I'm also glad that they gave Takeshi "Beat" Kitano, a chance to really unleash himself, after his little blip of a presence in the last American would-be Blockbuster scripted out of cyberpunk lore -- Johnny Mnemonic. Being a huge fan of the guy, I feel they finally let Kitano do his stoic Yakuza badass thing, in the role of Mamaki. He's really the most menacing entity in the entire movie, with just a nature-rendered body and an ancient revolver, and he really brings a gravitas and grounding to the massively computer-modified neon smorgasbord.
Wish we could've got more into Togusa, Batou, and all of the gang, and again, there's not a whole lot of new narrative, societal-poltical, science fictional, or other ground explored in GITS: Live Action, but hey, it is a big live-action movie, and you've got 90 minutes to make multi-millions, and you can't talk for twelve-plus hours like an HBO 'Prestige TV' series. You have to 'ninja slam, machine gun bam, thank you Johannsen ma'am' and get the hell out of there before everyone falls asleep or the LA Brass calls in Michael Bay and nukes your green screen Tokyo set from orbit.
I give Ghost In The Shell Movie 3-out-of-4 lucky ninja stars in a Chiba pawn shop window.