Saturday, 4 June 2016

Appleseed Alpha (aka Appleseed a, JP/USA, 2014)

























The last animated feature (in this presumed trilogy) is a prequel that predates both 'Appleseed Ex Machina' (2007), and 'Appleseed' (2004). This movie of course still has nothing to do with the original animated 1988 movie, all of these new CGI flicks are updates of that original source material (for better or worse). Yet there is yet another difference with this new 2014 film, its a prequel, but the origins foretold are not in continuity with the 04 and 07 films. Instead, director of all three films, Shinji Aramaki, has decided (oddly enough) to tell a slightly different tale of Deunan and Briareos' origins that do not lead into the two earlier films. So even though this is technically a prequel, its more of a stand alone film that occurs in a time period before the other two. Got it? good, moving on.

So this time we join both Deunan and Briareos in the ruins of New York after the third world war, or as it fizzles out. Both of the protagonists know each other already and Briareos is already a cyborg, both work as mercs and dream of a better life, possibly within the legendary city of Olympus. New York is run by a cyborg gang led by Two Horns, a fat, three eyed cyborg with two horns on his head. After deliberately sabotaging a mission he gave Deunan and Briareos (to keep them under contract longer), Two Horns offers them another mission, to go to the outskirts of the city and mop up some old war drones. Whilst in action the duo notice an approaching car with two people inside, a young girl (Iris) and a cyborg soldier (Olsen). They save the pair from the drones and decide to stick together even though both parties are unsure of each other.



We next meet the cyborg Talos and his unit of advanced, highly skilled, killer cyborgs (the Triton Faction). Now these guys are after Olsen and Iris because Iris carries important information/data about the location of an old hidden gigantic, arachnid-esque, battle fortress, and how to activate it. Talos wants this machine so he can basically take over the world (the ruined world) and transform it into his own vision, presumably a cyborg vision. Naturally Talos manages to capture both Olsen and Iris eventually thus leading our main protagonists to save them.

So again the plot here is pretty dumbed down stuff, its not bad by any means but when you compare it to the original plot of the 2004 movie, its darn simplistic. Compared to the 2007 movie though its much better, no silly zombie-esque nonsense. I was admittedly worried about the fact they had changed the origins here though, what's worse than making a prequel and then altering the basic outline! But despite my fears the story was actually really well self contained and snappy, it never felt odd or somewhat out of place in the franchise. In a way it could of been almost like a separate chapter in Deunan and Briareos' history, a segment of their lives that could just go down as another mission of many completed, chronicles of the duo. You can't even really tell its a prequel truth be told, unless you're a total fanboy.

As I am still relatively new to this whole franchise I did find myself asking questions, possibly dumb questions? quite probably but lets see. First off why does Two Horns look the way he does?? As he's a cyborg I'm guessing there is no real limit on how he could be designed but he's the only guy with three eyes, horns and looks like a mythical beast. In all honesty I thought this looked pretty daft really, it didn't really fit in with everything else. All the cyborgs look like reasonably futuristic armour clad soldiers, or slick killer Terminators, and then you have this fat cyborg with three eyes and tow horns (the multiple rings didn't help either). I must also ask, as I'm still not too sure, are these cyborgs all humans with robotic parts? I know there are various characters that are visibly part human with robotic parts, but these fully cybernetic characters...are they human at all or just fully machine? One reason I ask is because they can be killed just as easily as a human with bullets, it seems, unless ammo rounds are different here. They don't seem to be very tough at all which is kinda surprising considering they are metal. Also all these cyborgs are very human in nature, they basically act like humans. So I'm thinking they were human originally but just got fixed up as cyborgs for medical reasons or for funky gangland purposes, to increase their skills, look cooler or improve their criminal activities. I just can't imagine someone would built an overweight cyborg with three eyes and two horns really.























I have the same type of question about Talos and his henchmen/cyborgs. Again were these guys built by someone or were they human at one point? There is a vast difference in design between the cyborgs so I'm really not sure. For instance Talos is tall, slim, white in colour, and has a very Halo-esque looking gold helmet visor, if you ask me, cool but not overly original looking. He is clearly made to look more like a God or higher being with his design. His combat cyborgs are your standard heavily militarised, black/gunmetal grey coloured, looking machines with big guns, and again rather nice looking Halo-esque visors, admittedly cool. But his second in command is a black coloured female cyborg complete with female hips that sway sexually when she walks, a clear female chest, a very slinky physique and of course a sexy husky female voice. So for all intense and purposes this female cyborg is a complete stereotype of epic proportions, also, why would anyone built a cyborg like that? complete with metal female boobs. Now admittedly these evil cyborgs do look wonderfully realistic, glossy and brilliantly designed (almost as if they could be really built), but overall they are still incredibly cliched looking and like they've been ripped out of the videogame Halo (oh and the female bot can do martial arts because of course she can, think Rise of the Robots but faster).

There are also other silly typical little Hollywood-esque issues that pop up like Two Horns surviving bloody everything even though he really shouldn't. Plus the fact he always turns up at the right place at the right time for some perfect deus ex machina moments. Talos wants to destroy New York with the huge battle fortress aaand..? so what?? Yeah OK there are still people living there but its basically a shell, a skeleton of its former self, its already been destroyed by the war...so does it really matter? (I guess surrounding land in former States was turned to desert by fallout or constant bombing?).

This did feel much more like a normal action flick with a normal premise of save the female whilst stopping the big bad metal tank thing. In all honesty twas only the fantastic visual effects that made this stand out. As already said the various cyborgs on offer all look incredible with some astonishing light reflection work on their shiny metal bodies. The motion capture was of a high level and quality all throughout with every character, as was all the human characters facial features and expressions. Again with all the mechanical fortresses and battle drones, whilst looking top notch in terms of CGI, there is nothing special about them because we've seen things like this many times before. That's pretty much how I would describe the entire movie really, it looks lush! totally beautiful, very slick and easily the best CGI version of Deunan and Briareos so far (voice work is solid and Briareos doesn't have odd human looking biceps anymore). But visuals aside its very by the numbers, very cliche and overall kinda feels like a load of high quality videogame cut scenes that have been stitched together to make a movie. Its good, its good looking, but ultimately its nothing special.

6.5/10