I don’t care if you’re tired of hearing it, it bears repeating: The studio behind the new Ghost in the Shell movie got the casting wrong.
Nevertheless, if you’re among the many longtime fans of the franchise who may be feeling apprehension about spending cash to see the movie, there’s a way to get a taste of it for free in virtual reality.
The incredibly well-designed futuristic world of the film is recreated in VR, but I have to say that it looks like a rush job, as the visuals simply don’t live up to what’s currently possible in VR (or what we see in the film version).
The fact that it’s a passive experience is another disappointment. (You can use your controller trigger to stutter-step through the scene, but you can’t influence the outcome). Instead of allowing you to interact with the environment, you have to sit back and watch as the character dives off a building and attacks a group of robots and humans in a scene that is mirrored in the film. After the battle scene, Major Kusanagi walks into a kind of dreamworld, which leads to the end of the VR experience.
All in all, I’m happy to see this kind of VR tie-in becoming a regular occurrence with major film releases. In the best case scenario, it adds another level of engagement with the world presented in the film, and it sometimes even offers additional insight into the story.
However, as early box office results indicate, the film version of Ghost in the Shell has, in addition to the casting controversy, a plot that isn’t exactly compelling for many reviewers, even those who are longtime fans of the franchise.
In the end, this lack of blockbuster success might be a good thing for fans. Maybe in a future reboot, we’ll get to see another version of Ghost in the Shell that not only has amazing special effects, but also delivers more thoughtful casting and story treatment. If that happens, perhaps the VR version will also live up to what we see in theaters.