A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 404 – Appleseed (2004)

Appleseed (2004) – April 8th, 2011

For some reason or another, while I’ve read Ghost in the Shell and seen the movies and certainly the show, I’d never really gotten into Appleseed. I’m not sure why, since it’s got a bunch of tropes I enjoy, but I never did. So tonight was my introduction to it and I’ve got to say, it’s not the best introduction one could hope for. It’s an uneven movie with a lot of potential, so I’m not writing it off. But it also won’t be high on my repeat viewing list.

The first seven minutes of this movie are action. Not a complaint from me, I assure you. Just stating it. Not a single word is spoken for over seven minutes and I looked at Andy and said “This does have lines, right?” and then someone spoke and we realized we hadn’t turned the subtitles on. It was a little strange, but at the time I thought hey, cool, this is mostly going to be mindless and pretty action scenes. Oh, was I wrong. I should have kept my mouth shut. Because there is far more talking in this movie than action. It is a movie that will talk your ear off. Both ears, in fact. It is the talkiest action movie I have ever encountered.

Of course, some of the reason for all that talking is that the world it’s set in is fairly vast and there’s a lot of background to cover. Enter the car trip of exposition. Two of our main characters, Hitomi and Deunan, get in a spiffy hover car and drive through the utopian city of Olympus. Deunan’s new to the city, having been brought in from the ruins of the world outside the city (where a huge war has been waged for years) because of her fighting skills. Hitomi is one of an engineered race called Bioroids. And while Hitmoi’s got Deunan as a trapped audience, she tells her (and us) all about everything. It goes on and on and on and on and on and on. The thing is, while I’m sure it was all vital background information about the world and the conflicts at hand and so on and so forth, it’s so very static that I sort of zoned out during it. Shot of Deunan, shot of Hitomi, shot of the car, shot of the city, lather, rinse, repeat. For about ten minutes. And this sort of thing happens throughout the movie. There’ll be a tiny bit of action, then more talking. Then the characters will go somewhere else, engage in a little action, then more talking. Or maybe the talking will happen first and then a little action. You know, to keep things interesting.

What’s frustrating is that I can see the potential in all of it. There’s a whole plot going on with the Bioroids being unable to reproduce on their own and they’ve got muted emotions and were designed to protect humankind. And lots of humans don’t like them for one reason or another and want to overthrow them. Olympus is supposed to be a utopia but there are hints that some people don’t find it so perfect. There’s a coup staged by the human army, and a terrorist plot to destroy the Bioroids, and there are betrayals and double agents. Characters have names like Athena and Hades and General Uranus and the main computer is Gaia and you know, I am certain there’s symbolism in there. Then too, there’s background for Deunan and her old boyfriend, Briareos, who’s a cyborg now. And Deunan’s parents were heavily involved in the development of the Bioroids in the first place. So it all figures in. Oh, and Deunan gets a mech suit that can fly. But it’s all tossed in there with long stretches of very unengaging speech-making. Makes it tough to actually care about any of the emotional developments in the movie.

Again, it’s frustrating. I want to like Deunan. She’s super kick-ass and when there is action she gets to do some pretty awesome stuff. And that’s cool. But as a fleshed out character? By halfway through the movie there’s a big revelation about her mother and, well, I found it hard to care to the extent I think I was supposed to. Same for her relationship with Briareos, who is also pretty damn cool but we get so little for him to work with and so little for them as a couple, so their struggle to reconnect now that he’s been given the Robocop treatment doesn’t really have much impact.

I’ll give the movie this much: It’s pretty. It’s a bizarre combination of animation effects, with some of what looks like traditional 2D stuff and some slightly plastic-looking 3D stuff for the people and then some very detailed 3D backgrounds and textures. But I ended up liking it overall. And I like its concept and I like what I saw of the characters. All in all, though, I think it bit off way more than it could chew and ended up spending so much time on the history that the actual movie didn’t happen as it should have. I wanted to care when the giant mobile fortresses started moving, but I couldn’t. All I could do was think of how much better Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex did similar scenes. Maybe that’s why I got into that and not this. Or maybe it was just luck. I don’t know. I’ll have to check out the books and see if they’re as painfully wordy as this was. I sure hope not.

April 8, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , , ,

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