I felt like I was watching an "old" Japanese Godzilla movie made with new technology, so I think the purpose was served. A serious-minded story with interesting characters (which is probably the biggest difference from the current American MonsterVerse) that, like all of Japan, went from pre-war crisis to post-war crisis. All of that is naturally blended with wonderfully and deliberately dumbed-down ideas, such as the plan to destroy Godzilla, that I couldn't help but be excited. The digital Godzilla looks like a man in a rubber suit, and when he starts the demolition work and the Ifukube's theme music plays, it's really something. If I were 100% objective, I might give it one less star. But I don't want to.
For how short it is and how relatively little they talk in it, Ghost in the Shell has a surprising amount to say. A good idea in a good presentation is something always welcome, and this is one of those few select sci-fi films that have somehow managed not to get old (like Blade Runner, Alien, Akira, The Matrix, Back to the Future II...), even though reality has overtaken or almost caught up with them in terms of years. If I had to single out one thing, it would be a completely amazing five-minute long scene in the middle, in which nothing substantial happens at all, it’s "just" the haunting atmospheric music and alternating shots of a neon futuristic city. It draws you in perfectly.
Wonderful! Miyazaki's graciously poetic mind has conjured up a fantasy fairytale fable from post-war Japan, a bit in the style of Pan's Labyrinth. It is perhaps impossible to watch except with a permanent smile and the occasional tear in the eye. The animation is breathtaking and, in comparison, the Pixar, Disney and Sony trailers that preceded it are truly pathetic. It's not that I don't like CGI animation, but The Boy and the Heron simply took my breath away, something that didn’t happen (yet) when watching those other films.