Posted by psgels on 2 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

They may look similar, but make no mistake: Appleseed 2004 and Appleseed Ex Machina (2007) are two completely different movies. They’re both action movies, but the former’s big focus was on its setting; the latter’s is on its characters.

Seriously, Appleseed has a great and interesting concept. Ex Machina doesn’t really use anything of it, and pretty much reduces everything to “humans, androids and hacking”. It doesn’t ask any of the interesting questions that the 2004 series did, and just takes its setting for granted, coming with a generic brainwashing thriller.

On the other side of the coin, the characters are far from as clumsily portrayed as the 2004 series. Oh, it’s still cheesy, but it’s nevertheless a major improvement. The characters actually developed a bit in between the two movies (though don’t expect any development in the movies themselves), and the drama between them is simple, a bit cheesy, but effective enough for the action to not become boring.

The 2004 movie also had its botox faces problem. You know, the faces that may look good in screenshots, yet look plastic as soon as they try to move. Ex Machina also has this problem a bit, but it’s much less severe. The cutting and camera work is much more skillfully done and this make the jerky and unnatural movements a bit more bearable to watch.

Basically things come down to this: the 2004 series had a lot of flaws and one thing that it was very good at (the setting), while Ex Machina doesn’t have any flaws that are as big as the 2004 movie, yet also doesn’t really have anything to stand out, and is simply a decent action movie to pass an hour and a half. Take your pick.

Oh, just one thing: this movie does have its share of Deus ex Machina. I mean, what moron really calls his movie “Ex Machina” anyway? You’re just going to draw extra attention to them anyway.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well cut and unambitious, though nicely built up. If you ignore the Deus ex Machinas in the plot.
Characters: 7/10 – Not as one-dimensional as the 2004 movie, but these people have cheese.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Nothing special, but decent action and a solid soundtrack.
Setting: 7/10 – Loses a point by not using its setting in the slightest and making it really simple.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar conyo985 says:

    There’s one flaw about this movie. It’s the cause of the brainwashing. I figured it out way before the characters do.

  2. Avatar Puran says:

    No, correction, there are a ton of flaws in this movie. It threw out everything that was interesting about the setting and compensated by being somewhat half decent on other areas.

    Hopefully the series will managed to identify the (few) good parts of the movies and build upon them.

    I am somewhat hopeful for the series though because neither Shinji Aramaki nor SORI seem to be involved. (and while the director seems to be… mediocre at best, the series composition guy is pretty good)

  3. Avatar Patrick says:

    Hopefully the series will manage to identify the (lots of) good parts of the MANGAS and build upon them.

    Big fan of the appleseed manga here, but movies don’t do them justice.

    If it is half as good as Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. I will be happy.

  4. Avatar Puran says:

    I was under the impression that the series will not really follow the manga, right?

    I have skimmed the manga in the past, it seemed like a watered down/early-ghost in the shell (not that that’s a bad thing).
    But yeah, I completely agree, if it’s half as good as S.A.C. I will be happy as well.

  5. Avatar Patrick says:

    Sorry Puran, didn’t know that they would not follow the manga. I was just trying to say that the mangas were much much better.

    I would not say It’s not a watered down Ghost in the Shell, I think it’s a different type of story in same genre. But still, they are both police-based stories in near-future settings with science and technology having real consequences on the world.

  6. Avatar Dries says:

    This movie must rival Batman And Robin for the worst comic book movie adaptation ever… instead of hard-hitting, plot-relevant Shirow-esque action, we get pointless John Woo-style posturing and pyrotechnics. Instead of a nuanced exploration of the themes of militarism, transhumanism and tyranny (as in the manga), we get an old hand-me-down collection of the worst action movie cliches. Instead of Shirow’s crisp and witty dialogue, we are treated to grunting that would make John Rambo seem eloquent. I think I’ll wait until Neill Blomkamp gets to reboot Appleseed. Maybe then the manga will get the movie adaptation it so obviously deserves.

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