Review: Appleseed (2004)

Product Image: Appleseed DVD

I read the Appleseed manga in the early 90’s and loved them. I don’t remember them too well now, but I knew I wanted to see this movie as soon as I heard it was being made. Then I saw the trailer. Wow. This is not your run of the mill anime. It’s completely CGI. Not “Toy Story” CGI. The backgrounds are fairly realistic looking, and the characters are cell shaded, CGI that is rendered to look like hand drawn cell animation.

The movie is visually stunning. It took a bit to adjust to the style of animation, but once I just accepted it, I was blown off the couch. It has a sense of realism, while retaining it’s anime and manga roots. The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed. The chase scenes are as intense as anything I’ve seed out of Hollywood. It was like the first time I saw Akira, only more so.

I watched film with it’s Japanese DTS Surround soundtrack and English subtitles (not a dub fan). This movie is loud when it wants to be. Shake the house loud. I recognized a few of the Japanese voice actors, but not well enough to put names to them. The music was good, if a bit overbearing in a few places. The DTS sound mix was every bit as breathtaking as the visuals. I felt I was in the room with the characters more then once. When someone walks off screen, and their next line of dialog comes from behind you it’s just something else.

I can hear you asking, how was the story then? It’s a great story. In a future where the world is locked in an endless war with nobody left in charge, a utopian city exists. Half the population of this city is made up of artificial humans, controlled and monitored by a supercomputer, which makes it’s decisions by debating a group of elderly scientist/philosophers. These bioroids are intended to keep the humans in the city from fighting one another. They look just like people, and act just like people, but they don’t have access to their full emotions. Their reproductive systems are non-active, to keep them in check, and as a result they need to have regular life extensions to keep them going. But, all is not well in this would be utopia. There is racial hatred of this new group of pseudo humans. A terrorist attack on the life renewal center throws everything into jeopardy.

The delivery of the story is less great. There’s just too much going on to condense into an hour and forty minutes. As great as the action scenes were, I feel that spreading out the revelations (most of which are delivered via dialog exposition) are a bit of a let down. The big problem is that most of them happen right on top of each other, not allowing them the time they need to sink in. One of the two main characters is a human rebuilt in a robot body, and there’s some great conflict there, but it never fully develops. Everything just happens too fast.

In the end, I really recommend the film. Even if you don’t like anime, but do like animation in general, you should see this film. It’s something different. I only wish they would have given the story more time to grow.

My rating: 3 out of 5