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"Appleseed: Ex Machina" is not the future of Japanese Anime' (Japanese
animation) but it's still a very entertaining animated feature done in
the spirit of its predecessor "Appleseed" (2004), and other classic
Anime' such as "Akira" (1988) and "Ghost in the Shell" (1995). It's
also wise to not overlook the contributions of American sci-fi like
"Blade Runner" (1982), "The Terminator" (1984) and "RoboCop" (1987),
with a little helping of "The Matrix" (1999) for extra measure.
"Appleseed: Ex Machina" comes to us from Hong Kong action veteran John Woo and director Shinji Aramaki. It's a continuation of the Manga (Japanese comic book) by Shirow Masamune, who also wrote ye old "Ghost in the Shell." "Ex Machina" is a visually dazzling animated feature from Japan that's almost completely CGI with a little bit of hand-drawn animation and motion-capture work. The story is rich in thematic ideas and intelligence, namely Greek mythology and the unconditional love between humans and machines, but it could have used a little bit more polishing in the character department, allowing "Appleseed: Ex Machina" to rise above above-average storytelling. The characters also seem a little one-dimensional, too.
The film follows the adventures of a paramilitary task force called E.S.W.A.T. and its operations in 2199 Olympus, a futuristic utopia where humans, cyborgs, and bio-engineered human beings called "bioroids" are attempting to live in perfect harmony. However, a series of random terrorist attacks perpetrated by cyborgs and humans alike threaten to throw Olympus into total chaos. As it turns out, these humans and machines have come under the influence of an unknown electronic signal that hacks into their nervous systems and they then become the unwilling servants of a malevolent computerized entity.
Thrown into the action is the plucky female E.S.W.A.T. warrior Deunan Knute and her cyborg lover/partner Briareos as they investigate these bizarre occurrences with the other members of their unit. Things become complicated when a bioroid named Tereus, who resembles Briareous in his human form, joins their unit and threatens to come between their relationship. But these three must put aside their differences to face an even greater threat that promises world destruction in its wake.
From the opening moments of this stunning animated feature, I was pretty drawn in. I can tell that this was a very expensive piece of Anime' from Japan. John Woo's influence is everywhere in "Appleseed: Ex Machina," not limited to dual-wielding weapons and flocks of birds appearing before the action breaks out. Like I said earlier, problems arise with some fairly deficient characters, but with enough action and special effects splashed across the eyes of this viewer, it's only a minor complaint.
Japanese Anime' continues to be a rapidly evolving genre of film-making that shows no signs of going away any time soon. It is clear that more groundbreaking Anime' does need to come out if the genre plans to make a big splash in the West.
I saw this movie on Blu-ray, and it was fantastic!
On the surface, the Appleseed Ex Machina may appear to be a glitzy, shoot'em-up anime mecha action show. And on that, it is fabulously rendered. But there is more, much more in the offerings for those who are willing to appreciate them. For those with open mind and are willing to peer into the multi-thread story lines, they are in for visual delights that are woven with thought-provoking ideas about: the pursuit of utopia leading to dystopia, introspection and what makes us human and authentic, coping with the past and really facing yourself to find a path forward, the self-actuation process of a clone, and (corny as it may sound) unwavering love that transcends the human-machine line.
Call me trite simple but I LOVE it!
Those who are highly critical of this 3D anime movie might have missed great offerings from a fairly new medium. There is no need for such innate fears of CGI it will never replace human actors (those that tried, for instance, the Final Fantasy: A Spirit Within, flopped utterly in such attempts), but it will expand the anime genre and broaden it with fantastic visual appeal.
Regarding the Blu-ray video quality, some "Blu-ray experts" did not think it was crisp enough for Blu-ray. Well, my take on it is that the softness is deliberate, in part to help focus the viewer's eyes on the important parts of a scene, and in part to heighten the human aspects of the story. It says this movie is not all about the CGI glitz but that it has gone beyond that so the viewer can enjoy the highly stylized actions and romantic moments.
The video bit rate is fairly good, generally range from high teens to around high 20s Mbps. It's not the best encoding, however, because you can see some color banding (when the color gradient is supposed to be smooth) and, occasionally, jagged line definitions. There are only a few compression artifacts that I could see. By the way, I thought the CGI rendering STYLE, was excellent it sort of infuses the feel of cell animation into the smoothness of 3D CGI animation.
Regarding the audio quality, it is excellent in both spatial/channel separation and clarity. The dialogues are fairly easy to pick up. One nick-pick of mine is that I would have liked to hear the techno music pumped up higher during some of the kick-ass action scenes you know, to let our neighbors know how much we are enjoying watching an incredibly tight futuristic-action flick. The English dubbing was quite good (good enough that it didn't detract from the feel of the movie).
The ending seems a bit hurried, and is far fetched (like so many anime movies). I would love it see the last parts filled-in and polished a bit more so that it's more poignant and warm at the same time.
It is a great 9-star to me. It's worth seeing just for the CGI effect. If you do see it, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
From the first minute on the movie was playing, I was in love!
Appleseed Ex Machina, is brilliant! The first installment, when I
discovered it a little over a year ago, was good; an exiting journey in
cool environments and with a captivating story. Ex Machina, takes that
to the next level.
The action scenes are better, the motion capture is grander and the camera movements even sweeter. The whole movie long your in that world. Feeling all the emotions displayed by the beautiful, yet still traditional anime-style looking characters. The storyline is beautifully symbolic and the characters a dream to come true! Their cool, strong and yet so human.
I wish more 3d movies like these where made, with so much tender, love and care for the materia that is sometimes so underestimated by the grand audience. I take my hat of for the amazing team that has been working on Ex Machina - it's incredible from beginning to start and I can't wait to watch it again!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was surprised and glad to see John Woo joined this project. I was
expecting a bigger and better Appleseed with a John woo twist, but I
pro: John woo's style dominates the whole movie. cool fighting sequence, double-team shooting back to back, bullet time. It's such a reminiscence of John's 80's HK movies. I highly recommend this title, if you like John Woo and has not seen "appleseed 1".
However, all the characters and CG are really really pretty, if you like the Japanese style, which I like better than Disney.
Con: John changed the whole Appleseed style, and he has lost his creativity. I'm sorry to say this, since I'm a huge John woo fan. I would rather see a new title or a completely different setting, than naming this a sequel to Appleseed. Remember what he did to "mission Impossible"? He did it again.
The twisted plot and subtleness of story-telling is all gone. The characters got insanely talkative and cliché. John woo focused on the main characters, but they are mundane and quite predictable. John woo has told the story 100 times in HK and similar plot has been in 1000 Hollywood movies.
After all, "appleseed 1" was a great Japanese anime following "ghost in a shell" heritage. "ex machina" is a just another pretty-looking Hollywood movie with John Woo, but not to the height of "face off" or even "broken arrow". If you want to see a great anime, go see "appleseed 1". If you just want John Woo, then "ex machina" is what you want.
I think John Woo has lost his edge since "face off". I hope he picks it up in the next big production "Red Cliff" (chi bi).
On its own singular merit, ExMachina should get a solid 10, however,
its target audience has lots of exposure to anime and cgi films. When
held up to movies like Akira, The Incredibles and others, ExMachina
excels exceptionally at action scenes and choreography, but lacks the
grandiose semi-philosophical structure from Akira, and the emotional
realistic impact from The Incredibles. Its not wrong to expect such
qualities to be standard in a production that clearly had a lot of care
and thought devoted to it. ExMachina hardly suffers from this too much,
and is actually quite an impressive action movie that delivers some
exceedingly thrilling scenes that aren't easily forgotten. The
characters are fun, interesting and memorable and are quite unique
which is one of Appleseed's biggest strengths. (even the manga)
ExMachina is produced and influenced by John Woo, but stop praising him so much for this! He didn't write or direct ExMachina, stop giving him undue credit. SERIOUSLY. Its NOT a "John Woo" film. Furthermore, ignore the pretentious slobbering half informed fanboys who blindly review ExMachina with less than half of their facts correct... they irritate me beyond belief.
Finally, Appleseed ExMachina is a top quality sci-fi adventure that can be judged independent of its impressive use of CGI. It will 'wow' you. Absolutely recommended.
While Appleseed from 2004 had a fantastic story, Ex Machina has the best graphics that I've ever seen since FF VII:Advent Children. If you are a fan of Ghost in the shell & Matrix this is for you "a must see anime" The connections between the first part and the second aren't many, so if you haven't watched the first part, there is nothing that you won't understand in this anime. Unlike some other anime with complexed plot and long boring scenes with never ending conversations, this is anime with great story (although as I said from the first part is better) and you won't wanna miss a second. The action scenes where cyborgs with big machine guns fight combined with awesome music will blow you away. Another good thing is that they aren't so much nasty bloody scenes like in the first part so this anime can only be watched by the younger audience. 10 out of 10 no doubt about it!
I've seen all the Appleseed flicks and enjoyed all of them.
This is the next logical step in improving the computer animated versions one step further.
This is not "state of the art" as the final fantasy movies are. As someone mentioned the skin of the characters looks a little plastic, and they haven't gotten the movement quite right (but what computer animated film has?). Also, where in FF The Spirits Within you could see the animation quality and the effort to make things look more realistic, in this movie the animation is actually a little step back. The best example is the hair of the characters (also as previously mentioned by someone else). The only realistic hair you see in the film is on Bularios clone, where although his hair is tied at the back, you can see individual strands. Personally I can't wait to see a computer animated movie where they get the movement of the characters spot-on.
The plot of the movie is great, well done. The acting is good and the script is also good. I thought the lip syncing could have been done a little better, but it is done well enough that you don't notice unless you look for it.
Also, thank the powers that be that it is "almost totally devoid of the philosophical musings that make" many animes so utterly boring. I remember the first time I watched Ghost in the Shell. Half way through the movie the main character starts rambling on about "philosophical musings" that bored the hell out of me and the other people who were with me seeing this film. Personally that is not why I enjoy anime.
This movie is pretty much none stop action all the way through, as we would expect from John Woo. It's done very much in his style, which is good. The actual rendering of the characters has been changed a little, talking another small step back away from the big puppy eyed classic anime character look. However, they didn't go overboard, and it still has that look we all love so much. (read, the babes still look awesomely cute). They sort of rub your face in it a little as the main character Deunan Knute has a great tush that apparently is so strong that while the rest of her body is covered in body armor, her tush is not. Hey, I'm not complaining....it IS anime.
I have watched this movie four or five times, and it's every bit as good now as it was the first time I watched it.
Anyone who is an anime lover (there are more and more of us all the time) will love this movie to pieces. People who just enjoy animated movies will also enjoy this movie because it is not your classic anime, but a little bit of an evolution of that genre.
I'm not a huge fan of anime or 3D animation, but i am a fan of great
animated movies that have substance, a story-line that holds from the
beginning to the end, thorough and not rushed out character
development, great scenery and camera shots that make sense for the
There are many things i liked about this movie, and a some i didn't like.
Some might say that the animation in this movie was flawless. I say it was not and it has nothing to do with opinion. It has something to do with fact and what is capable to be done. I believe that the animation could have been much, much better. The still objects such as the city, buildings, and vehicles were definitely excellent, but the people didn't stand, move, or talk realistically enough and nowadays it is possible to come VERY close to that - but it seems like they ran through that and didn't put enough effort into it. I'll just assume they had a time limit and that was the least of their worries - a lesser worry than the story-line should be.
So I assume than the story line and character development would be the main focus here, since little was done to better or outdo the first Appleseed movie. I have to say it was in a way equal to the first. A few things i liked the most about this one was the interaction between the character or Deunan and Tereus. The chemistry was well illustrated, and I wish the envelop was pushed a little further and there was some type of physical contact, kissing or something, anything more than just a hug. This way to explore love in a different between a human and a biologically engineered human being that is the copy of someone that you still love.
The cinematographic was entertaining, but the music wasn't that great. I can't stand the upbeat electronic music and wish it had been replaced by something more suitable like some different electronic music that made sense for the movie and the action scenes. A few times i felt trapped in a rave club or some rave party, which i enjoyed when i was in high school, but never enjoyed in a good Sci-Fi movie. I would have stuck with organic or industrial sounds for effects.
Overall this movie isn't better or worse than the first. It's very entertaining and i greatly enjoyed it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A film that looks like a video game. The quality of the animation
varies from the superb to naive. Visually it's unbalanced but largely
The storyline could have been written on the back of a postage stamp -- which is just as well as that way it doesn't interfere with the action sequences which seem to be the film makers primary interest.
The idea of an artificial intelligence taking over and assimilating humanity has been done before and better by Star Trek's Borg and appears to have been borrowed wholesale here. Personal "devices" cause the general population to morph into homicidal Zombies who stagger down the street like rejects from Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Yet, despite discovering this, our heroes don't even try to eradicate this "fashion accessory". Well, there wouldn't be a film if they did.
I can understand the film's appeal to a narrow band of the population -- mainly young men, I'd imagine -- but don't believe the raves or the 7.1 rating. It's nothing special.
I really appreciated this post modern SciFi saga. There are some scenes and themes that reminded me of Star Trek Borgs assimilation, The Matrix Sentinels attacks, Blade Runner city atmosphere and commercials, Star Wars space vehicles landings and political environment, Transformers battle of machines and not to forget the zombies from Resident Evil. The graphics are really stunning. The way the city landscape has been designed is phenomenal. The motion capture is seamless. The camera movement is very realistic. The love story in the movie was touching in the way it depicts how love is unconditional. The scene where Deunan is stumbling, and then you see that she took of her high heel shoes to feel comfortable is so hilarious, knowing what a tough cookie she is. What was missing in the story was to understanding better why and when Briareos became extensively replaced through cyborg equipment. I was lucky enough to see the English dubbed version.
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