Let's take a brief trip down the road of Been There, Done That. Our stop this time is the village of cyborg and machine enhanced humans. Some of the familiar residents are "Robocop" (1987), "Blade Runner" (1982), "Star Trek: First Contact" (1996), "Ex Machina" (2013), "Universal Soldier" (1992) and the original "Ghost in a Shell" (1995). Stop!


Yes, director Rupert Sanders' ("Snow White and the Hunstman") latest film is a remake of a twenty-two year old anime by Mamoru Oshii. It began in earnest in 2008 and has been a production circus ever since with writer changes, casting changes, more writer changes, distributor changes and release date changes until now...


The result is a film that is visually stunning but, as you can imagine, with a story that is so lost and confused it's mind numbing. Apparently Margot Robbie bailed on the lead to film "Suicide Squad" and Scarlett demanded a hefty salary to come in as the replacement.

Johansson is Major, a nearly dead survivor of a boat attack. Instead of being left for dead, she is scooped up, her mind removed and placed in a fully mechanized replacement body - much like "RoboCop" only in "Ex Machina" chic. Though she is the first of her kind, in this future, people are regularly enhanced with machinery for all kinds of reasons.


In her new body, she now works for Section 9, an anti-terrorist group lead by the weird Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). Her mission is to fight terrorism, specifically the terrorist who attacked her boat - Kuz (Michael Pitt). But much like Peter Weller's Murphy in "RoboCop" and Jean Claude vab Damme's GR44 in "Universal Soldier", Major starts having memory flashbacks.


Now she's thinking that Kuze might be right when he tells her that she shouldn't trust her bosses. But her bosses insist that she might have been hacked by Kuze. A hodgepodge of characters are introduced including her compassionate creator Dr. Ouelet (Julliette Binoche) and her cyborg partner Batou (Pilou Asbeek) who offer shallow humanism.


Except for Major, every other character is two dimensional and forgettable. For Scarlett, it's as easy as jumping in and out of her rolls in "Under the Skin", "Lucy", and Black Widow of "The Avengers". Everyone else seems to be sleepwalking through their roles.


I watched the anime version recently just so I could get a grasp of what was going on, Sanders and his writers changed the story too much and hope the visuals will make you forget about the plot.


"Ghost In A Shell" is a visually dynamic mess that will make your eyes pop with the visual effects and the always stunning Scarlett Johansson before it left hooks you with a convoluted story that has been told better before.   -- GEOFF BURTON