Appleseed the Movie: 70% / 100%
A review by MistoNinja
In a sentence: A meandering anime-inspired 3D science fiction flick with a cliche plot and subpar visuals that manages to redeem itself only in a handfull of merely adequete action sequences.
Appleseed, based upon a manga by legendary mangaka Shirow Masamune, is the latest of feature-length Japanese anime movies to be released in movie theaters across the U.S. Those of us here in North America must generally find our needs in regards to the anime market satiated through DVDs or less-than-legal downloads off of the internet, and thus it is a cause for celebration when news hits that such a movie is to hit mainstream movie theaters. Suffice it to say, if our hopes are to be excited in such a way, the movie itself must deliver. Unfortunately, Appleseed manages to disappoint in nearly all facets it attempts to conquer. A strained story tries to be deep yet ends up swimming in the kiddie pool, promising 3D visuals end up comparing more to Reboot, an aged show that used to play on Cartoon Network, than Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
In fact, from a visual standpoint, Appleseed has absolutely no excuse to fall flat. We've seen far better from previous films from Japan, some a few years old, yet it trips up on so many of its tangled wires. Some jagged, unpolished visuals would find themselves more at home as a PS2 cutscene than as a bigscreen feature film. Ironically, a recent PS2 game, Armored Core Nexus, has an intro sequence that features mechs that actually looks eons better than anything this movie presents. This is by no means an exaggeration. There are several sequences in the movie with grainy edges when there is no seemingly no excusable reason to have crisp, fine-tuned edges. In fact, during a dramatic scene in the movie, one can't help but notice slight texture slip-ups on regions of an outheld gun. And this is just the surface: the character models are clearly anime-inspired, and while they look plenty appealing when stationary, they begin to rip apart at the seams with movement. When talking, their mouths articulate about as well as a G.I.Joe being manipulated by a little kid. This clearly takes away from practically every dramatic shot in the entire movie, as your attention is focused away from the bland lines the characters are spouting and more towards their rubbery movements.
The story supplementing these poor visuals follows suit. It's typical anime science-fiction drivel that can't compare to the greats. Its a story of a feud between humans and a new, peaceful race known as the Bio-roids contained within a new utopic city known as Olympus. While it certainly struggles with some deeper symbolism, particularly centered around Greek mythology, there's a surprising lack of substance to be had. You can't sympatheize with any of the characters, especially when they move about as gracefully as a Barbie, and in the end the plot is just a bit too distant to lend any sort of meaning to today's society.
Stilted plot, bland characters, and mediocre visuals should be manageable so long as the action is entertaining. In that regard, Appleseed succeeds to a slight degree. There are a couple of action sequences that are simply bursting with energy, mostly the ones involving Mechs. Yet these sequences are really nothing special, especially when your lust for action is better fulfilled in several other mediums. The action isn't always a high-point, however, especially when it combines with the films other flaws. The climax of the movie is immensely dissapointing, with a premise so utterly overdone that you may find yourself in disbelief that the movie is actually presenting it and seriously at that. Oh, but it is.
Suffice it to say, Appleseed should not be at the top of any moviegoers list. Particularly not that of anime fans, who have probably seen this exact premise thousands of times over. It may be suitable as a rental for the scant action sequences, but you'd be better off foregoing this in light of something more stellar, such as Ghost in the Shell 2 or Metropolis.
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