Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Appleseed: Ex Machina Review

This is a review I originally posted on FrayedWire.

Appleseed: Ex Machina is the second and latest installment in the Appleseed movie trilogy, based on the japanese manga of the same name.

Appleseed has always been a story about the future. It’s world is that of cyborgs, offensive mechs, and, most importantly, a bio-engineered sub-race of humans called the Bioroids, who are designed to be resistant to emotions like hatred and rage. Bioroids are often appointed as leaders and officials. They maintain, uphold, and protect Olympus, the city where this story takes place.

The film takes off as Deunan Knute(a particularly hot and experienced human soldier) and her “friend” and partner Briareos(a cyborg from the war) infiltrate a cathedral occupied by cyborg terrorists. When Briareos gets heavily injured and hospitalized because of a blast, he is temporarily replaced in the battle to stop the terrorists by a Bioroid named Tereus, who was contructed mainly from Briareos’ DNA. So basically Tereus is the spitting image and personality of Briareos before he lost most of his bodyparts and became a cyborg. The result is a setup that may not sound like such a great springboard for a story like this, but looks great in action.

Those that got a chance to check out the first film will find that Ex Machina is a very different yet largely superior animal. However, I urge you to watch it at least the first time in Japanese with English Subtitles. The reason for this is that it was originally released in japanese, so the lip sync, voice acting, dialogue and pace are all superior to the american version, resulting in what is just a plain better quality movie experience. John Woo’s entrancing action sequences don’t need to be dumbed down with swear words that are thrown in where ever possible, which is exactly what the english version attempts to do.

For fans of action flicks all-around, this is certainly something worth checking out. But for fans of japanese animation and John Woo’s choreographic style, Ex Machina is going to be nothing less than a must-see.

Pros: Outstanding visual style and action. Much more character-driven than the first.

Cons: Main plot involving cyborg terrorists relies on what has become a huge cliche in moviemaking. Mediocre english dub.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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