Let’s get the most important question out of the way first: Is it as good as its predecessor? No, overall, GitS Innocence is worse than the original. It was memorable for completely different reasons though. The original Ghost in the Shell was, more than anything, a thought-provoking, philosophical, engaging cyberpunk movie. The beauty in the second movie however, wasn’t in its story. The beauty of Innocence lays in the details, its ambiance and above all, the absolutely gorgeous animation.
There is almost no such thing as a storyline through Innocence. Batou is once again on a mission for Section 9, this time with a new, mostly human partner, Togusa. The story follows them around on this investigation, and that alone, the investigation, not the results of it, or thrilling chases, just the investigation itself. This is unmistakably also its one huge flaw. Yes, the first movie didn’t had much of a solid from-A-to-B story either, but the engaging storyline itself was there, and it was compensated with great dialogues, lots of thought-provoking themes and was generally very well executed, much less the case with this movie.
However, there is more to this movie than the plot alone. The first and most apparent strong point is the animation. It’s enough to make anyone go speechless, GitS: Innocence accomplished what nearly (ye, I’m a Shinkai fanboy, shoot me) no other movie has done up to this level. I’m usually no big fan of CG in anime, it almost always feels out of place and drawings would’ve nearly always been better. In this movie however, the CG blends in perfectly with the other animation, and it’s sometimes actually difficult to tell the difference between what is drawn and what is rendered. I’d almost recommend this movie just for the animation alone.
There is still a bit more to Innocence other than the animation. Some small details in this movie made it stand out above being just a colorfest, and kept bringing a smile on my face time after time. This is often paired with a great ambiance and brought the anime to another level. For example, there is a certain dog-scene in this movie that was done with such an eye to detail that both the dog and Batou really came to life, and felt completely real; from that moment on, our favorite cyborg supercop came across as a real person to me, rather than a character. Another great example, in one of the final scenes, there is some shooting done, but the screen focuses on another character who is working on disabling the attackers. You can feel some tension building up when you hear Batou slowly decreasing his rate of fire in order to save the little ammunition he has left. It are small things like those scenes that made the movie worthwhile besides just being eyecandy for me.
Are you one to watch anime for well thought-out plots only, or are you looking for a solid continuation of the original, then don’t bother with this movie; there's practically no plot, it doesn't resemble the first movie aside from its setting and some characters, and the dialogues are far from good. Instead, go into it for a 1h30 ride of stunning visuals, great ambiance mixed with some decent action and cyberpunk, you won’t be disappointed.