'Ghost in the Shell' VR, like the film, misses opportunity to be great

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Image: paramount, oculus

2016%2f06%2f29%2f8a%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymdezlza5.39c93By Adario Strange2017-04-01 18:21:45 UTC

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. 

Paramount Pictures teamed with Oculus to release a short VR experience for the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR that takes you into the mind of Major Kusanagi as played by Scarlett Johansson.    

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Image: paramount, Oculus 

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. 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.  

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Image: paramount, Oculus

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.

WATCH: 'Ghost in the Shell' celebrates the original anime

Topics: Entertainment, Movies, Gear VR, ghost in the shell, Oculus, samsung gear vr, virtual reality, VR

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