Dazzling 'Ghost in the Shell' is lost in translation

Not so the images in the Hollywood version.

Cyborg field commander code-named The Major is the first of her kind. Johansson tries to make Major feel different from those around her, holding her body in a different way and walking with intent.

But Section Nine earns a powerful enemy, which has the sole aim of destroying Hanka and its advancements in cyber technology which have changed the world. He offers the warmth that Ghost in the Shell is sometimes lacking, and Asbæk brings a charisma to the character needed to serve as a counterpoint to Major; he often is the only one to bring out any softness in her.

What's important to remember is that this film is taking manga and anime to a Western audience in a big way.

But unlike the major, the film is all brawn and no brain and relies so heavily on its computer-generated world, rendering it soulless. Of course, there are also elegant parkour and gracefully violent hand-to-hand combat in "Blade-Runner"-like settings, from high-tech laboratories to sleazy nightclubs".

Scarlett Johansson plays The Major in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. Questions arose during production about casting white, Western actors like Johansson and Binoche in a remake of a Japanese movie set in an otherwise predominantly Asian-populated city. Nevertheless, Johansson does pull off a good lead performance to give the film its emotional core. One of its head scientists, Ouélet (Juliette Binoche), was at the centre of the transformation.

With her chilly, monotonic reserve, Johansson is playing another version of a character that's become something of a go-to in recent years, in such intriguing speculative fantasies as "Under the Skin", "Lucy" and the rapidly evolving operating system in "Her". "Beat" Takeshi Kitano was truly an imposing and impressive Section 9 Chief Daisuke Aramaki, Major's immediate superior. Michael Carmen Pitt (whom I knew from his earlier film "The Dreamers" as simply Michael Pitt) was barely recognizable as master-hacker Kuze, but his pale blue eyes can still express deep thoughts.

In the listless and banal "Ghost in the Shell", Rupert Sanders's ("Snow White and the Huntsman") live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime classic of the same title, she combines all three. The plot is not the same at all, though the basic elements were retained. The Major's "nude" silicone suit of invisibility was rendered without her nipples for a PG rating, a triumph in costume design by Kurt and Bart.

Scarlett Johansson stars as a pivotal member of the Section Nine team - a collection of humans and robots armed with high-tech weapons from Hanka Robotics capable of neutralising nearly any threat.

On a minor side note, it was too bad they did not choose to stick with the San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer Major and Batou drank in the anime.

The new film's plot veers just enough from the original to make it feel fresh.

Directed by Rupert Sanders ("Snow White and the Huntsman"), based on the comic "Ghost in the Shell" by Masamune Shirow and from a screenplay by Jamie Moss, this two-hour theatrical version takes place in a freaky future world where Johansson plays The Major and according to the official synopsis, "a human saved from a awful crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a flawless soldier devoted to stopping the world's most unsafe criminals".

  • Salvatore Jensen