I'm incapable of reviewing this independent of its history: "Ghost in the Shell" started as a manga series by Masamune Shirow in 1989. I've never read the manga - but I've seen the 1995 movie eight or nine times, the 2004 sequel around four times, and I've even watched the entirety of the TV series. I think the movies are among the best Anime ever made, and some of the best science fiction ever put on film. So this movie had a lot to live up to.
They does everything they can to bring Shirow's visuals to life: scenes from the first two movies and even from the TV series are recreated in live action in astonishing detail. Is this a good idea? The animated movies are a great source, both full to the brim with strikingly beautiful imagery. That's fine, I guess ... but they played amateur surgeon with what used to be a great plot, grafting in this idea and that, rearranging the Major's (Scarlett Johansson) history and trying to shoe-horn it into a story about hijacked identity. That's similar to some of the ideas Shirow was after, but horribly mangled and ultimately not nearly as interesting or as thought-provoking as the original movies.
Pretty, not as terrible as I expected (after the not-very-positive reviews), but not nearly as interesting as it should have been.