Unless they’ve been living under a rock, nearly every anime fan has heard of the “Appleseed” movies. Based on the “Appleseed” manga by Masamune Shirow, the movies are pretty exciting shows of gunfights and cyberpunk mythology, even if they aren’t that original.
“Appleseed: Ex-Machina”, the third movie in the franchise, is probably the best of the Appleseed films so far. Produced by gunfight movie specialist John Woo, “Appleseed: Ex-Machina” features even flashier gunfights and a complex plot involving brainwashing.
For people unaquainted with the Appleseed franchise, the series focuses on a pair of tough E.S.W.A.T. soldiers, Deunan and Briareos (buraireiosu). While they are the best soldiers in the team, they are also a romantic wife/husband team until Briareos loses his body in an explosion. Fortunately, Briareos’ body is restored in robot form. Together, they are the unstoppable duo, protecting the city-nation of Olympus from terrorists.
In “Appleseed: Ex-Machina”, however, Briareos almost dies trying to save Deunan from a bomb inside one of the terrorist cyborgs. Although Deunan is grateful that Briareos only took minor damage, she isn’t pleased when E.S.W.A.T. assigns her with a genetic human clone of Briareos, named Tereus. Of course, romantic tension ensues when Briareos returns to the E.S.W.A.T. team to meet his human clone. Deunan likes both of them of course, but Briareos came to her first.
With that aside, there is actually a big action plot involving a scientist named Dr. Kestner. Kestner took over a Project HALCON, a scientific project to help brain-damaged veterans with an advanced artificial intelligence system. But then the project turned the veterans insane and the project leader, Dr. Zander, was killed by veterans. Kestner vowed to get his revenge through implants into popular devices called connexus. Now the devices are transmitters which turn humans and robots insane.
Okay, the storyline is a little simplistic. Ultimately, Briareos, Deunan and Tereus decide to take on HALCON, because if they destroy the HALCON base containing the virus, they can save Olympus from being destroyed. HALCON is actually huge floating cube over the ocean. Inside the cube are tons of virus robots. Of course, the three spend their time killing robots with long machine-gun fights, acrobatics and rocket flying. And admittedly, the last fight with the core of the HALCON really isn’t that spectacular.
However, the gunfights are incredible. I’ve honestly never seen so much flipping and jumping in a gunfight movie. In the second fight alone, Deunan spends her time flipping on steel girders and jumping all over the place just to shut off the robot with the switch on its neck. And in the HALCON gunfight, Deunan kamikazes her flying robot into another robot, ejecting before the explosion.
Okay, maybe the gunfights are ridiculously unrealistic. However, they are impressive to watch. And I also liked the twist in John Woo’s use of the doves. As every John Woo fan knows, every Woo film has to have flying doves. The “Appleseed” movie puts a twist in the dove formula, though–the doves have cyborg exoskeletons containing the viruses to make robots go insane.
Okay, maybe the doves were silly. However, the movie was flashy and exciting enough to receive my approval. Despite a simplistic plot and typical John Woo silliness, this is a great-looking film with amazing computer-generated animation. “Appleseed: Ex-Machina” isn’t a film to write home about, but it is fun to watch, nonetheless.
Oh, and the interview with John Woo is a good special feature as well.
Image courtesy of clockworkmachina.com