I didn't read any manga or anything about the Ghost in the Shell world prior to watching, so that may have influenced my enjoyment. I'm aware of the fact that this is an intellectual and philosophical movie, and not one that focuses on bombastic explosions and violence. No, this is a movie driven by concept, a concept that is shown, not told, in a slow, vague approach that requires attention, thought, and patience. Yet, despite the effort needed to fully understand the film, it offers a surprisingly simple and disappointing payoff.
This is a movie that did not provoke thinking or cause me to question my existence or my self worth as a human being, it just wasn't complex or deep enough to change my views on humanity, and instead the topics it brought up seemed obvious to me. This is a movie that tackles human existence on a purely scientific level, which essentially boils it down to a simple fact: that our consciousness, memories, and emotions are merely created from electrical pulses within our brains. Humanity is separated into two parts, our consciousness and our physical body. For us, technology hasn't reached a point where these things that make us distinctly unique can be controlled and artificially replicated. The fact that we can't lends upon contemporary humans a certain sacredness to our existence, to birth, to life, and to our intelligence. The moment technology crosses that barrier, what makes us human will no longer be special or unique. This technological barrier is something that has already been crossed in the GITS universe, and with it, they decide to squander the potential of the setting, and only ask one question: What is a difference between man and machine?
At some point, there really is no practical difference, and ultimately, this is the answer the movie provides, and disappointingly, this is the only answer it provides with very little elaboration.
What truly scares me, would be if humans will be responsible enough to guide us on the correct path of evolution once we become powerful enough to control it ourselves. Will society be destroyed by the folly of man when we obtain the power of "god"? Or will we evolve into a more advanced species? Will humanity be willing to throw away the primitive identity of what makes us human for the sake of transcending into a higher organism? How will society compete in a world where cybernetic parts are far superior to the organic ones we are born with? How can we trust anyone or anything, how would we know what is real and what is not once our memories and senses can be completely replaced?
This movie sort of touches a serious topic, when hackers steal the memories of others for personal gain. This is to show that a human's soul can be modified, just like a program, and it is a situation that is only presented in response to the movie's central, existential question. But besides this the movie doesn't touch any remotely serious topic at all, and most of the movie spends it's time focusing on needlessly building upon a rather pointless existential crisis sort of thing. Because the movie ignored addressing actually important and very real issues future technology will impose on humanity, the movie simply fell flat to me. The setting was immersive and well made, and the story had potential to go a different and much more interesting route. But instead, it took a very simplistic philosophical approach and made it needlessly convoluted.
The setting and atmosphere of the world, as well as the artwork of the city were very beautiful and interesting. The music was very fitting as well. But besides that I did not find anything I enjoyed.