Mar 6, 2008
If you know Appleseed, then you would about the first CG anime movie released in 2004 of the same name. Ex-machina is the sequel to that movie in name and storyline.
The basic premise is still the same: half of Earth's population were wiped out in a non-nuclear war. After the war, men created Olympus, a sprawling high-tech city governed by artificial humans known as bioroids, engineered to possess no emotions of hate and anger, serving as mediators when it comes world affairs.
Humans, Bioroids and Cyborgs live harmoniously in Olympus (it is implied that ONLY in Olympus that these kind of "racial" tolerance exists). Yet despite all the technological advances, this time around something that they have created in the past would come back to haunt then.
Just like the previous movie, the plot explores how technology changes the human society. Obviously, the film does this in a exaggerated fashion, but some elements does strike a chord with the current times. Like how quickly and effortlessly information can be disseminated by it's users and how certain quarters with malicious intent can manipulate such infrastructures without the users being any wiser. I can't help but wonder if the Connexus device is a futuristic interpretation of current mobile devices eg. PDAs and mobile phones (in terms of, their owners don't go anywhere without it, and reluctant to part with it even when it is banned).
Technical-wise, the visuals has undergone a total revamped. It looks like a cross between hand paintings and photorealism, a marked departure from the it's cel-shaded predecessor. Personally I think the new visual style makes it easier to appreciate the designs, as cel-shading can be kinda ambiguous when it comes to minor details. As usual, character animations are largely motion-captured which makes it look odd at times due to strange deformation and (ironically) stiff movements.
The visual effects are much better now. Clothing are animated with cloth dynamics this time around, as are the hair. Notably, I find the clothes to be very well modeled and shaded. For those interested, a couple of Deunan's clothes were designed by Prada.
The movie was produced by John Woo, as evident with the generous use of dual-wielding gunnery, slow-motion and of course, doves. This time around, though, the doves actually serves a purpose beyond just aesthetics.
All in all, I found it enjoyable to say the least. Despite some slower parts, it is basically action sequence after action sequence with heartstopping choreography and corny drama typical of animes. If you like Masamune Shirow's work, give it a go and you won't be disappointed.
P/S: Does anyone else find it weird that towards the end, the movie sudddenly becomes a cross between Star Trek(Borgs!), The Matrix Revolution and Final Fantasy 7(Huge swords!) ???