The Masamune Shirow manga Appleseed has already spawned the acclaimed Ghost in the Shell feature length film and now director Shinji Aramaki has given fans the prequel they have been hoping for. This film attempts to fill in some holes in the story of Deunan (Lucy Christian – Starship Troopers: Invasion) and her cyborg companion, Briareos (David Matranga – Starship Troopers: Invasion).
World War III is over and the Earth is in sorry state. Many cities have been destroyed. Two mercenaries, Deunan and cyborg soldier Briareos, are trying to survive by plying their trade in the bombed out remnants of New York City. Deunan holds out hope that a place exalted as the saving grace for the human race, Olympus, exists and they will be able to find it. Before attempting that, they have to “pay off” city crime boss Two Horns (Wendel Calvert) for what they owe him in jobs. Their last one doesn’t go as they had hoped and the delivery of the agreed upon good is not completed. Two Horns tells them they still owe him and sends the two off on a job of ridding an area on the outskirts of the city of cyborgs causing problems for Two Horns.
While there Deunan and Briareos run into or rather save a human and a cyborg named Iris (Brina Palencia – appeared in an episode of The Walking Dead) and Olson (Adam Gibbs – Starship Troopers: Invasion). The two explain to the mercenaries that they are from Olympus and might have a way to stop the evil Talos (Josh Sheltz – first film) from destroying the world though they cannot divulge much as their mission is top secret. Deunan and Briareos decide to help the two in the attempt to save the world and get to Olympus.
For fans of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell you will be astounded by how much computer CGI animation has improved since the 1995 release of that film. Appleseed Alpha uses that animation that is almost humanlike it is so realistic. Now, some movie fans out there will love this particular type of animation finding that it brings a level of realism to these types of films not before possible. I, on the other hand, find it to be a little creepy and somewhat distracting, if I am being completely honest. At times I found myself hypnotized by the movement of Deunan’s hair and wasn’t paying attention to what the characters were saying. Not good.
How the improvement in the animation does help is in the action scenes. There the clarity is definitely an advantage. The crisp visuals coupled with the clear sound really add to all the gun fights and hand to hand battles.
A good thing is you don’t have to have seen the previous Appleseed movies to be able to follow this one. The story is easy to follow and the characters are fairly well developed rendering things easy to follow.
Though the look is very modern some aspects of the film and story are rather antiquated. Some aspects are riddled with clichés. Of course of the very few female characters (with Iris being the lone exception) whether human or cyborg they all have massive and prominent racks. Is that totally necessary? Kinda falls into the male comic book nerd category in that this is they only type of female they want to see. Another cliché sticking point for me was the villain, Talos. He is so stereotypical evil that it renders him less threatening. The screenwriter, Marianne Krawczyk, falls into the rut of recreating action film archetypes that we’ve seen time and time again. The dialogue had me rolling my eyes on a couple of occasions.
Bottom line is that the story is not the greatest but the high calibre action sequences make up for it making Appleseed Alpha an entertaining 93 minute watch.