Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Appleseed: Ex Machina

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG-13

Special Features:
Team-Up: John Woo and Shinji Aramaki - Two Top Talents, an Action Movie Master and a Legend In The Anime World, Share The Appleseed Vision
Revolution: Animating "Ex Machina" - New Technology Breakthroughs Powering This Instant Anime Classic
Filmmaker Commentary

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Languages
English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean Subtitles
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"John Woo and Shinji Aramaki merge talents to create a futuristic thriller adapted from the popular Japanese manga series by Shirow Masamune ('Ghost in the Shell'). Special Forces soldiers Deunan, Briareos and Tereus battle to preserve peace in the city nation of Olympus, until a stealth attack by zealots turns the city into a perilous war zone. With revolutionary computer generated technology, breathtaking action and rich storytelling, this fantastic adventure pits man against machine in a battle for survival!"

"Appleseed: Ex Machina" is rated PG-13 for action/violence and brief strong language.

Mini-Review:
I never saw the first "Appleseed" film (or the manga), so I can't compare this sequel to that. Fortunately, this sequel stands pretty well on its own. I had no trouble following what was going on. (And it certainly made me want to check out its predecessor.) For fellow newcomers, I'd describe this as a combination of traditional anime style and 3-D CGI animation. The result is a visually stunning, action packed film.

One of the first things you notice about "Appleseed: Ex Machina" is the production design. The cities are a breathtaking mix of futuristic buildings and classic architecture. The costumes are a mix of futuristic cool and futuristic high fashion. The technology is imaginative and seems like something you could reasonably expect to see in 130 years. The ships have a cool insect-like design. When you throw impressive action into this setting you have an incredibly beautiful and attention grabbing film.

But "Appleseed: Ex Machina" isn't all style and no substance. It explores some interesting themes. The most noteworthy one is the love triangle between Deunan, Briareos and Tereus. The cyborg suddenly finds himself faced with a clone of his human self. He struggles with facing his loss of humanity, feelings of being replaced, and jealousy over the affections of his female partner. The result is a story with a bit more substance than I've seen in a lot of anime.

On the down side, the pacing of "Ex Machina" is a bit inconsistent. It starts out very strong with an amazing John Woo-style gunfight in a cathedral. The pacing then slows down for much of the film until it picks up again for the grand finale. Fortunately, it's worth the wait. Another problem is how they handle the heroine. She starts out incredibly tough in the opening and in the finale, but for the bulk of the film she's not so tough. We see her crying, indecisive, and getting kicked around. It didn't seem consistent for her character.

Overall, I found "Appleseed: Ex Machina" to be an entertaining film. It's accessible for non-anime fans while still delivering the sci-fi action and adventure that you'd expect from the genre. I recommend checking it out.

You'll find your standard DVD bonus features on the single disc version of this DVD. (A two disc special edition is available.) There's a two part documentary on the making of the movie. They talk about John Woo's involvement, specific parts of the film that he had input on, the production design, the motion capture, and more. You'll also find a Filmmaker Commentary.

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