So now we have a live action "Ghost in the Shell" movie, and, well, they have screwed that up. Sort of. By the time the film ended I had forgiven it its many (many, MANY) foibles, and was very glad I had seen it, but it was a long road.
This is a visually stunning movie. The action sequences are often downright lyrical.
The "whitewashing" flap was unnecessary. Kusanagi's appearance is entirely synthetic, and quite frankly, Scarlett Johansen looks a LOT like many of the official illustrations. When all is said and done, there is nothing about this story or its philosophy that is fundamentally Japanese other than the authorship and the character names; the concepts and situations are pretty much universal.
On the other hand, I was REALLY upset that they whitewashed Kusanagi's name; the name is at the heart of the character continuity. Eventually, they fixed it, and did it so well that I have forgiven them.
"Major" is a TITLE. (At least most of the time, and definitely in this case.) Referring to someone as "Major" is inappropriate except in direct address, NEVER in first or third person. ("The Major", on the other hand, is fine.)
The decision to tell an origin story was at best dubious and probably wrong. Kusanagi originally appeared fully formed, like many other iconic characters, and has never been the worse for it.
I can say to the second the moment when I stopped grumbling about this movie and started to actually like it. It was when one of the characters said, "Never send a rabbit to kill a fox." This pushed a BUNCH of my happy buttons.
Philosophically... Honestly, this has been window dressing from day one. Characters have talked about the ramifications of the mind/ brain (machine) problem over coffee since forever, and have never said anything of substance, and never will, and who cares? It is all idle speculation in the face of experimental ignorance, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
In the end, if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you will like.