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Back story: Vexille 2007, Nihon Sakoku (Vexille 2007, Japan National
Isolation) is set in the middle of this century, at about the edge of
the foreseeable future. There has been rapid development in the areas
of human-form robots, able to assist humanity with running it's
civilization. Ten years ago, technology reached a point where
completely human-made robots reached the peak of their potential. The
trend shifted towards the augmentation of the human body, and the
merging of man and machine. However, the basis and ethical implications
of such technology were condemned by international treaties and
organizations, and all development was banned. Japan (the world leader
in robotics) was completely opposed to the condemnation, and the
potential ban it found imposed on itself. Japan withdrew from the
international community and went into national isolation.
Ten years later, there have been no visitors allowed in or out of Japan. There has been no cultural contact, and no shared media from Japan since the isolation. However, despite the self-imposed isolation, Japan remains the world leader in the field of robotics. The robots manufactured by the conglomerate DAIWA can be seen all over L.A., able to assist mankind with maintaining it's civilization. Before the isolation, the robotics industry was so vital to Japan that DAIWA had grown in to a colossal mega-conglomerate, with strong ties to every part of the government.
After two incidents of terrorism by DAIWA, outside of Japanese territory, America discovers that Japan may well have cyborg technology. Fearing the worst, America sends its most highly specialized team (Sword) to secretly infiltrate Japan, and gather intelligence.
The CG: There's no doubt that the CG is an important part of the appeal of this film, and for the most part, I think it comes off very well. Fans of the last major CG film released outside Japan will feel very at home with the visual style's blend of very photo realistic elements, such as mechs, landscapes, and high-paced action scenes, with low-polly toon-shaded actors. Although landscapes, mechs and characters are all very pleasing to the eye, the one complaint I have is that the characters sometimes suffer from very stiff movement, where motion capture seems to not have been used. Sometimes this stiff movement will happen between cuts in the middle of a scene, which tended to remind me that I was watching a CG movie.
The Music: The film also follows a similar flare to Appleseed, in its choice of dance and electronic artists such as Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites, Carl Craig, etc, and other more aesthetic tracks by Paul Okenfold. The blend of music does a good job of making the movie come alive, without sounding forced.
The story: The story was the most important thing for me, and probably the hardest to criticize. I enjoyed the story very much -- the progression is smooth, and easy to follow. The characters are presented well, and developed in enough detail to satisfy the viewer. The story progression starts very quickly, and immediately moves into meat of the story, which is infiltrating Japan. The story is spread out with a lot of action scenes, no doubt, because this is a CG movie. Most of which do a job in telling the story, but truth be told, are mostly for eye-candy value.
The main criticism I have of the story comes down to the complexity and presentation. I think as a CG film, Vexille didn't have enough time to devote to its story.
With a story so central to people and events of the past, I feel Vexille falls short in its delivery of everything it set up -- including the back story. Because of time constraints -- probably both in production and running time -- most of the story's revelations and plot points happen quite close together, which means the viewer's attention is often pulled away from one revelation to a new facet of the story, which does tend to dull the experience in the more dramatic scenes, and leaves little time to savour the experience.
In all honesty, I think a more expanded Vexille story could have easily filled another film, with a little bit still taken out. Of course, this is a natural part of cinema and story-telling, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing.
Final Verdict: I think Vexille is quite a solid CG film that stands apart from Applesed, with its own qualities, and enough differences to enjoy it for what it is. Although I was slightly disappointed by story in what I, personally, wanted to see, I think that just shows it to be a fairly well-balanced film, that I would recommend to anyone with a taste for action, CG or Japanese entertainment.
This year had perhaps seen a bumper crop of anime movies making it to
the theatres, with the likes of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,
Paprika, Brave Story, Doraemon, and now, a science fiction mecha genre
anime by the producer of Appleseed, Fumihiko Sori.
Set in the middle of the 21st century, the world has become like that in Isaac Asimov novels, with robots having the intelligence finally to assist mankind in various tasks, which doesn't discount the fact that they'll be used in warfare too, with creations resembling those seen in Clone Wars. Coming from the largest factory in the world, Japan, for their technological genius, the world soon frowns upon their quest to fuse robots and humans (much like the brouhaha on potential abuse of stem cell technology), and Japan decides to shut itself off from the rest of the world.
Naturally, US foreign policy dictates that they are curious as to what's going on behind the iron curtain, so they send their crack paramilitary unit called SWORD to infiltrate Japan. They are afraid of the potential threat the robots give to humankind, and more so are suspicious of the largest conglomerate and robot producer Daiwa Heavy Industries, who are dabbling into questionable robotic research. Led by Leon (voiced by Shosuke Tanihara), it goes without saying that titular character Vexille (Meisa Kuroki) will get to save the day (hey, it's her name on the billboard). Interestingly enough though, this movie has its weight put on the strength of its female characters, Vexille, and rebel fighter Maria (Yasuko Matsuyuki)
There are many familiar elements in Vexille both character and plot wise, but that doesn't detract from the fact that there still are a number of plus points leading to the enjoyment of this movie. The designs of the mecha used by SWORD units, which is like an exoskeleton suit designed for middleweight, individual battles, are crafted to look like they just walked out of any generic Hollywood science fiction movie, as do the enemy's guard droids which look like they were heavily influenced by Robocop's ED209.
And with the many ships and transporters, can someone say Star Wars too? But the one that takes the cake, is the post-apocalyptic look at Japan, making it seem like the planet of Arakis from Frank Herbert's Dune, complete with their version of the Fremen with their tinkering prowess, and those monstrous, lethal sandworms too, which take on a mechanical facade over here, known as Jags. Even the inevitable finale seemed to have taken a leaf from Herbert's literary masterpiece.
As with any mecha-related stories, there's always a tussle between what it means to be a human and android (erm, Blade Runner?), and the hopes and dreams to preserve their way of life against a megalomaniac industrialist, who shares six degrees of separation with everyone involved. But we're not really here for rehashed cyberpunk stories involving the first 2 installments of the Animatrix, are we?
We're here for the action pieces, and boy, they don't disappoint. From the get go we're treated to a full scale assault and brought to see what SWORD can do, and it played out to John Woo-ish distinction with plenty of violence set to slow motion, with numerous guns blazing that would even make the master proud. Credit goes to designing the well crafted action sequences so they are vastly different from one another, and the best has got to be the massive chase/race sequence in the latter half of the movie. And a bonus here is the music, contributed no doubt by the genius of Paul Oakenfold. This one delivered perfectly, adding a huge dash of zing to complement the action, though I thought I heard a few bars off his Ready Steady Go!
The animation is in no doubt stunning with its photo-realism, and for a 2D movie, I thought it even beat Beowulf in the graphics, and intensity of the storyline. Vexille comes across as a recommended movie to catch before the dawn of the new year. Go see!
Went into Vexille on the heels of the disappointing Appleseed Ex
Machina and was BLOWN AWAY. Everything about this is top notch; the
storyline, while involved, is still easy to follow and very engaging.
You care about characters when they die, even the ones with limited
screen time. For a standard (read: non HD) disc, the image is
fantastic, though I watched it on a PS3 so the upconverting may have
helped. The surround sound mix is totally immersive and goes a long way
to bring you into the story. The action sequences, while somewhat
derivative, are brilliant and very well staged and executed. All of
this is served spectacularly well by the music, which is a combination
of Oakenfold's signature breakbeat techno and selected songs by other
artists, and is never off putting or out of place. Also, the anime
style, a blend of cell shaded 2D and CGI, is reminiscent of Appleseed,
only a bit more fluid and stylized. The Japanese audio track is solid
as to be expected, and to my surprise the English dub is actually very
well done. Bonus points for that.
All told, Vexille is a must buy for cyberpunk, sci fi and anime afficionados, and is definitely reference material for your home theatre system.
Where did this movie come from? I rented it with reserved anticipation
because it looked like another generic anime action movie. I had no
idea I was about to witness the greatest animated cinematic experience
of my entire life.
Over the past few years I've grown fond of Japanese anime action films. My favorites are "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children", "Appleseed", "Karas: The Prophecy and Revelation", and "Ghost In the Shell." Yeah, I also like a lot of the artsy stuff like "5 Centimeters Per Second", "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time", and the most of the Studio Ghibli portfolio, but nothing wets my palette like a great anime action movie. And my goodness did "Vexille" wet my palette!
In the year 2077, an elite commando unit infiltrates Japan to expose their technological secrets to the world. Character development is weak, but the storyline is excellent, with plenty of engaging scenarios, unexpected surprises, and formidable antagonists. The visuals are outstanding and the score is unorthodox and refreshing. The action scenes are also stunning. Whether it's a mansion infiltration, a high speed motorcycle pursuit, or an escape from enigmatic machina, the choreography, editing, and placement of the virtual camera are all top notch. One 11-minute scene is unquestionably the most nerve-racking and utterly spectacular action/suspense sequence in the history of animated cinema. Nothing comes close to this in the world of anime action. Nothing.
Now, anyone who reads my other IMDb comments knows that there are two things that I really hate: Hollywood movies and art-house snobs. Of course, I'm sure that those stuck-up snobs will urinate all over this movie due to the relative lack of character development, but "Vexille" thrives so much on the action and storyline that the characters earn our concern because of how they are absorbed within this exceptionally crafted conflict. This is NOT a brainless action movie. The aforementioned 11-minute extravaganza does not exist for eye candy and superficial beauty alone (like most of the scenes in "FFVII: Advent Children"). It has a significant emotional weight behind it which makes the viewer clench their seat in apprehension for every single second of the entire sequence. I know, I know; the snobs would rather watch a couple kids walk around in a war zone collecting rice for two hours instead of an entertaining action movie. So maybe they should just spare us the "high and mighty" routine and not even bother watching this movie to begin with. (God knows they should've skipped "The Machine Girl.")
One enigmatic complaint I've heard on the web is with regards to the dialogue. Some have claimed it to be "cheesy", but I honestly cannot recall more than one or two sentences that apply. (Believe me, I know cheese when I see it.) Most of the dialogue is rather intelligent and there is a noticeable lack of melodrama. Seriously, there are virtually NO eye-rolling moments in this movie, which is a huge positive.
I honestly cannot express in words how awesome "Vexille" is. It's almost like I'm in a state of shock or something, because I just can't get this movie out of my head for a split second. Things might change over the course of weeks and subsequent viewings (of which there will be many, I promise you that), but as of this very moment, this film may have just cracked my Top 20 All Time list (live action included).
Just watch it and judge for yourself. From the very first shot right up til the end, this movie is just non-stop entertainment. And why on earth are theaters showing some stupid kung fu panda tripe instead of this spectacular action film?
Saw this as world premiere at Locarno festival. In 2K DLP projection on 27m wide screen. Looked very good apart from some aliasing at times. The film borrows visually from "Dune" (sandworms) and some others but it's quite interesting with its mix of not photo realistic and more realistic CGI elements. Will look great on Blue Ray HD disc. The story is about a Japan of the future which has shielded itself from all foreign surveillance for 10 years so nobody knows what is going on. There are suspicions of illegal production of androids by a mega corporation with unclear goals, potentially dangerous to the human race on a global scale.
Excellent animation and an interesting story combine in this action sci-fi success. The voice work is sometimes clunky, and the characters are all dull as dishwater. In fact, I can't really tell you about the characters, they are all fairly similar. This results in visually stunning action sequences. But it's hard to feel involved and connect with the characters emotionally. Chases, robot fights, fast and well edited cuts, this is how action scenes should be seen. As a combination of both robot/zombie film, it would have been better for some not so obvious mad scientists. Enjoy the action, and try and make it through the dialogue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, I'm a huge anime fan. I also watched everything about Ghost In The Shell. GITS has a great story and also writers of GITS has great intellectual knowledge. Sometimes you feel you need to learn more about political issues. In terms of science, GITS is still untouchable. From scratch to the end, it was full of cliché and what about the technological talks. I'm an engineer but even anybody could understand it's all fake. Rule number one, if you had no knowledge about the technology in detail either go and learn something or give up writing something about it. Dialogs and drama scenes were terrible. I just liked the soundtrack. That's all! I don't know how the people can write too much good things about this movie. I suggest them to watch the whole GITS and then watch this garbage.
Okay, so if you've read all of the other reviews then you know that the animation of this film is AWESOME! It's an excellent step forward for hybrid animation. Also, though not all of the reviewers agree, my opinion of the action in this film was that it was sweet and sick (in the most radical fashion.) For the animation and action alone, this film is totally worth the price of a rental. Which brings us to the plot of the film; while some reviewers thought the plot was empty or lacked merit, I am of the opinion that those reviewers probably didn't pay attention to all of the dialog. The plot was well developed, more believable than several of the big-budget live-action Hollywood films (such as The Happening, which totally sucked,) and played along the social issue of fear of technological invasiveness quite nicely, though it was a rather formulaic script. The dialog was a little weak, and there wasn't much for serious character development, but the nonverbal scripting played quite well. After all, this was an animated action flick, and quite frankly it was one of the better offerings from the anime genre in recent years. To recap, this is worth the cost of the rental if only for the visual imagery. However, if you have a well developed sensibility for the suspension of disbelief, then you will also likely enjoy the story as a whole. I know that I certainly did.
completely original story line, amazing animation. Enough action,
incredible acting. I really got involved with the characters in the
story. It was interesting to see how it all went down in the end.
Its so different then any other movie I have seen this year. You can make parallel of any other sci-fi film. But if Vixelle borrows from any film, it turns it around and does its own way.
The fast past action slows down in the middle to engage you in the characters. Its great, like the main character Vixelle, she wakes up in a town, and is lost. You are lost. In no time, the plot is dropped and personally left speech less. Cannot recommend this enough. Well that and Death Note.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's two good things in here: the animation and the (very) basic premise. Once the veil of mystery is lifted about half an hour in, and explanations start being offered, the whole film degenerates pretty quickly. We have an evil genius type of bad guy with thin motivation for...taking over the world, of course, because he needs test subjects for an experiment. Does that sound believable to you? Granted, it's all fiction, but it has to be at least a little authentic. Anyway, the good guys aren't much better. In fact, they're extremely generic: we have the main girl, who's extremely emotional in spite of being part of the film's version of SWAT (who also carry out CIA-type missions). Then we have a hard ass girl, who's the main girl's ex. Both girls are pretty much eye candy and nothing more. Then we have the dude they're both after, who does nothing except getting captured, thus being in need of rescuing by the two girls. Then we have...the plot. Which is full of holes so big Leonidas could throw in the whole Persian army inside it in the blink of an eye. You'll see what I mean if you decide to watch this. If you don't...well, basically there's a company taking over Japan, on its own, and turning it into a wasteland. How does a single company take over a whole country? How does it fall so easily after two girls infiltrate it when it's supposed to be so powerful? Beats me. So much more could have been done with this with some more thought. That's really all it required. The writers sitting down and figuring out some tighter storyline rather than getting the easy way out and shrugging off all coherence.
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