Ghost in the Shell12¦ 3D Blu-ray, DVD
It won't come as a surprise to anyone to learn that robots will eventually take over the earth. They can serve drinks now, answer questions (and tell bad jokes) and can even drive cars. Surely it's only a matter of time before they realise what's the point of human kind, and they'd be better off without us.
This feature then, based on the successful manga comics that materialised in 1989, stars Scarlett Johansson as a kick-ass cyborg.
It's the future and it's all about the upgrades. Long gone are the times when people were happy with plastic enhancements to their appearance, now it's all about micro chips and circuitry to improve all aspects the human body. Want better sight with x-ray vision? There's an upgrade for that.
Major Killian (Johansson) was a civilian who was caught up in a cyber terrorist attack. Although her parents were killed, she made it - just. Using cutting edge technology, they managed to remove her brain from her broken body and insert it into a top of the range cyborg body.
Now in her upgraded shell, she works for Section 9 - an anti-terrorist unit - under the command of Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). Working alongside Batou (Pilou Asbęk), they soon encounter a murderous hacker on the loose - Kuze (Michael Pitt) - who is keen to upset the cyber cart any which way he can.
When Johansson first appeared on the acting scene, she wouldn't have necessarily grabbed you as being the next big think in action heroes. Playing Black Widow in the Marvel universe multiple times has certainly changed all that.
Then there was 2014's Lucy for Luc Besson, which it has to be said, is eerily similar to this film. Maybe she just enjoys playing super-charged humans, or maybe it was the alleged $10 million offered to play this role, you decide.
Describing Ghost in the Shell as Blade Runner 2.0 may be over the top, but it's not a bad facsimile. Like Blade Runner, this film's world is lit by neon in a grubby-looking, futuristic Asian city. Visually, it's stunning to look at, and certainly has extra pop in 3D. In short, it's a world you won't get tired looking at.
The same could be said of Johansson, whose outfits are at times, alarmingly skin tight, particularly the flesh-coloured one which feels worryingly inappropriate. That's sci-fi for you.
Considering this is only his second directing gig, Brit Rupert Sanders manages to impress with converting this stunning looking world from the page to the screen. He's certainly not overawed by the task.
Where the film does suffer though is in the story department. It's one that has been told over and over again, and sadly this attempt brings nothing new to the cyber party. The script is also a tad dry and takes itself far too seriously.
Still, the action comes thick and fast and is executed with aplomb, and the rapport between Johansson and Asbęk helps with keeping a well-needed human touch.
It may be faithful to the original manga series, but this title could have been helped with being less 2.0 and a little more human.