APPLESEED: EX MACHINA (ADVANCE REVIEW)

Posted On February - 25 - 2008
  ? RELEASED BY:   WARNER HOME VIDEO
  ? HD FORMART:   BLU-RAY (1080p / 1080i)
  ? ASPECT RATIO:   16:9 ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN
  ? AUDIO:   ENGLISH DD 5.1 / JAPANESE DD 5.1
FRANCAIS DD 5.1 / CANTONESES DD 5.1
DUTCH DD 5.1 / GERMAN DD 5.1
  ? RUNNING TIME:   124 MIN
  ? RATING:   PG-13
  ? RELEASE DATE:   03/04/2008
  ? REVIEW DATE:   02/25/2008
  ? REVIEWED BY:   ROMMEL SALANDANAN

After the world recovered from the devastation of a non-nuclear war that started in 2133, humankind established a city of hope named Olympus where human, cyborgs, and the non-emotional bioroids co-exist. However, even in this new utopia, a city governed by bioroids to defend the existence of humankind; it is still susceptible to outside forces and terrorist attacks.  As a counter measure, Olympus established ES.W.A.T (Especial Weapons and Tactics), an elite force with worldwide jurisdiction to preserve the peace.

Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner and lover, Briareos, who is the only human to fully adapt to the H-Class (Hecatonchires) cybernetic body, are the crème of the crop of ES.W.A.T.  Nevertheless, their partnership and relationship will be put to the test when Deunan is partnered with an experimental Bioroid that is designed to fight named Tereus, whose genetic material and battle skill data were taken from Briareos.

While having feelings of reservations with her new partner, cyber terrorism is occurring only days away from a peace summit, where all 32 countries must vote upon whether or not to give Olympus full control of their satellites to thwart and stop terrorist attacks even before they occur. But a self-righteous individual has his own agenda. He starts a cyber-terrorism attack against the people of the world to heal his emotional wounds and to unite every single conscience into one through integration and natural selection for the elimination of human conflict, and to be one with Halcon. To accomplish this task, he must gain access to the satellites to transmit the signal to control both humans and cyborgs that are using a consumer device known as the Connexus, and to do so, he must use the Hecatonchires Cyborg to achieve his goals.

Appleseed Ex Machina is a computer-generated animation collaboration of renowned Chinese action director John Woo and distinguishes mecha designer and director Shinji Aramaki. Ex Machina also has evolved from the original Appleseed film that was released in 2004. The film highlights the trademark of stop-action sequence, gunfights, bullet falling on the floor that John Woo is known for in his motion pictures, with remarkable mechanical designs from Shinji Aramaki. The film itself is designed so non-anime or Appleseed fans can enjoy this as a standalone movie due to the quick summary in the beginning of the film, and the lack of references from the films and graphic novels. To circumvent that issue and to add depth into the story, Producer John Woo also suggested that the movie should have a background story between Deunan and Briareos in the past, and certain aspects reveal that the two were not only partners, but also lovers.
 
The CG in this film stands taller than the previous film.  The faces and the eyes of the characters, except for Briareos of course, are more expressive, and the animation and action is much more fluid in conjunction with the stop-motion action sequences.

As for Briareos, David Matranga has the task to make a non-human robotic face emotional through his voice, which is a task that he made with ease and could easily make the audience believe. As for the female protagonist, Luci Christian, who is known for her high-tone and very energetic characters, uses her range (by lowering her tone of voice) to perfectly play the character of Duenan Knute.

The recording of the English dub is right on, although certain elements where changed in the translation to give the film the emotional punch that it needs, which could have been easily lost with all of the action and scheming. But the film couldn’t escape from comparison as it seems that it borrowed some visual features from Star Trek: First Contact and The Matrix Revolutions.

BLU-RAY FORMAT:
The review material that we received is in high-definition Blu-ray. It is an anime that definitely needs high-definition treatment. Watching Ex Machina on full high-definition (1080P) is definite a treat. For example, little details like texture of clothing material and the Hecatonchires armor are very visible. The action sequences are a lot clearer, and one that comes to mind right away is the scene when Briareos slices down one of the mechanical robot inside of Holcon’s Zero-Gravity Plant. While the scene is from a distance to show the destruction of the enemy, the crystal clear technology of high-definition vividly shows all optical lenses on his face. To add to the clarity, the engraved Hecatonchires on top of Briareos head is also visible when close-up.

The sound comes out clear in Dolby Digital 5.1, and the back speakers gives the right resonance to give a true surround sound experience.

Once the disc is read by the player, it will automatically play the movie. The disc doesn’t contain an actual menu, but pop menu is available during movie play to change audio / subtitle, scene selections and to access the special features.
 
EXTRAS:
The disc comes with informative extras, from John Woo’s reason of involvement of the second film and collaboration with Shinji Aramaki (Team-up: John Woo and Shinji Aramaki), to the changes and comparison done between the two feature-film (Revolution: Animating Ex Machina). Next, is the evolution of the Appleseed manga, which documents its philosophy, its origin, and its popularity in the United States. Finally, and a somewhat off-topic information from the movie, is the exchange of culture between American and Japanese with anime right at the middle of it.
 
IN SUMMARY:
Appleseed Ex Machina is an upgrade from the original film. A tremendous film and a technological breakthrough with its action sequence with emotional depth from two of the biggest names in Hollywood and in the anime genre. A must have for anime and non-anime fans alike. It is an animated film worth watching over and over again.

Notes: 
All language audio are Dolby Digital 5.1, although packaging states that English audio is the only one that comes Dolby Digital 5.1.

Greek Methology Analogy in the movie:
Hecatonchires are creatures with one hundred arm and fifty heads, and was the sons of Gaia (name of the central computer in the movie), and there were three of these creatures and one of them is named Briareus. In Appleseed, the H-class (Hecatonchires) body has access to mulitple netwrok, and the only human to successful fuse with the armor is  Briareos.

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