The third Ghost In The Shell feature length film, deviates as a continuation of the Stand Alone Complex series. While in the same universe as the original feature length motion picture which sparked the franchise into world wide recognition, Solid State Society is quite obviously a follow on from the lengthy complex series (hence the name residing in the title). In continuing the story they have created some interesting side points for those who have followed the series thus far, with development of characters while being brave enough to introduce a number of subsidiary characters to enhance the feel of the universe, to show that it itself has progressed and that it's not merely tied down to just four characters.
Ironically while Ghost In The Shell has progressed in the continuation of the story, Togusa for example making the pleasing and logical step up to 'team leader' the story never progresses much from that of "Innocence". Major Kusanagi is still absent from the 'Section 9' set up as she continues her vigilante exploits through the net, solving crimes when and where she can, where like in the second film she is mentioned more often than not and pined over. The plot set up is still identical, a virtual hacker who has capabilities that are often above and beyond the major and section 9 and how they bring down their opposition, who often has a more aversive and political agenda than is first thought. In essence this is very much a follow on from the Stand Alone Complex, because the plot line feels almost like a compressed first season into the confines of one hundred minutes.
Having established Solid State Society as a undeniable continuation of the Stand Alone Complex universe it must also be noted that in this particular installment there is a notable absence of philosophy. Where the original was crammed with the nature of what it means to be human and "Innocence" tackled the nature of reality there is a discernible lack of here. Personally while appreciating the intelligence of the films I often felt they crammed dialogue unnecessarily throwing philosophers names around like frisbees at the beach purely for referential sake, and often the point itself was lost even when understood. Solid State however all but ditches that mantra, much in a similar fashion to the series, yes there are moments of philosophical debate, but it focuses much more on an intelligently constructed cyber-crime thriller plot line which by chance of it being a Ghost In The Shell film carries the characters we have come to be attached to.
The cyber-crime in itself while possibly mirroring "The Laughing Man" from "Gig One" provides a fresh twist and a new way for the writers to show off their skills at constructing new virtual dramas. Aramaki takes much of a backseat focusing a lot more of the attention on the newly cyberised Togusa and how that has affected him. One minor complaint is, most likely through the anglicised dub, but perhaps not, is the garbled mess of plot development within the first twenty minutes as it establishes the who's what's and why's of the newly emerging case.
Ghost In The Shell continues to deliver entertaining, thought out and thoughtful films and stories to add to its ever increasing world, and do not take the mark and criticism i've levelled at this as a sleight, because I did enjoy it. It's merely that I know they are capable of more than a recycling of noble criminals with the "will she stay, won't she stay" of the majors attachment to section 9, and the "will they, won't they" with herself and Batou. The trouble is they seem unable to fuse philosophy with a cracking crime thriller peppered with action to a stable and progressive dialogue. That having been said, for those accustomed to the franchise it highlights why it is so successful, with interesting characters, a future world not entirely removed from ours and an thought out philosophically tinged action packed story line, which has had a huge impact on the cinematic landscape. While Solid State, however, may not have a similar impact as its initial predecessor for those that know the characters and know the world it is a worthwhile addition, and for those that don't, they need to log on and expand their own ghost.
Review by benjamin_lappin from the Internet Movie Database.