Stephen reviews: Appleseed α (2014)

appleseedalpha_1Appleseed α [アップルシード アルファ] (2014)
AKA Appleseed Alpha

Starring Luci Christian, David Matranga, Wendel Calvert, Chris Hutchinson, Adam Gibbs, Brina Palencia, Elizabeth Bunch, Joshua Sheltz

Directed by Shinji Aramaki


Welcome to the last, or at least most recent, Appleseed film. I’m glad to finally be here because that means I don’t have to keep watching this stuff any more. I’ve gotten more than my fill of Appleseed this past month. I held out a bit of hope that this new one would be an improvement, but that was a false hope. Appleseed α is pretty much the same as the others. Except for that whole part about not having the Japanese audio. Yeah, that was a rather unpleasant surprise.

I poked about for an explanation, and the best I could come up with is the same explanation Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust had, that the Japanese audio wasn’t finished yet, and may still be in production as far as I know. I didn’t look very hard, though. Unlike Bloodlust, Appleseed α isn’t all that great of a film. Bloodlust‘s crappy dub was a tragedy, but Appleseed? Eh, who cares? It’s not worth getting bothered over. The good thing is that, also unlike Bloodlust, the actors in Appleseed were actually trying to act. I grew up with anime in the 1990s, and I will never ever get over the initial fear when watching an English dub that it’ll sound like shit. I know the industry standard has improved since then, but at this point it’s a knee-jerk reaction that I’m never going to grow out of.

appleseedalpha_2So of course I’m not going to like an anime that’s pure CG and only available with English audio (or French, Portuguese, or Spanish). But that’s not the real reason I don’t care much for the film. It’s because the film is so bland. It’s still just an average action flick that does nothing new or particularly well. They’ve stopped with the overly ridiculous theatrics that Ex Machina reveled in, so there weren’t any funny moments to laugh at either. Not that there’s no comedy in the film, but it’s the kind of comedy that isn’t funny enough to laugh at.

The CG has certainly gotten an upgrade, though. It’s actually comparable to modern live action films with heavy CG effects, which is pretty unusual for an anime title. My biggest complaint here is the boob job they gave Deunan which kept sticking out as bizarre to me, especially since they kept sticking it out for everyone to stare at. Actually, there are a lot worse anime out there in that regard, but Appleseed has previously been much more reserved, so it came as a bit of a surprise after watching the prior films.

appleseedalpha_5The story is where things fall apart. It’s not bad or anything, but I once again found myself just not caring about anything. It’s a prequel/reboot of the series, taking place while Deunan and Briareos were wandering the wastelands of post-World War III New York. Olympus is but a far-off dream that most people don’t even think exists. So it’s your typical run-down post-apocalyptic cesspool run by a generic crime boss who has Deunan and Briareos doing odd jobs for the now rare power supplies that Briareos needs to keep his cyborg body running. They run into some mysterious strangers named Olson and Iris on a mission they don’t want to talk about. They’re also being chased around by some equally mysterious bad guys, and everyone gets in a big fight with each other.

appleseedalpha_4You might think that explosions and gunfights would be more exciting, and you might even be right. Too bad the film wasted so much time sitting around being mopey. Deunan and Briareos, and even Iris, spend all their time bitching and moaning about how much the world sucks. It just felt wrong. Deunan and Briareos are badasses. They don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves; they go out and kick some butt. I get that this is supposed to be an origin story, but it felt too self-indulgent. The film isn’t engaging enough to get away with its moody presentation, and all the emphasis on being depressed only served to make the film slower and less interesting.

At least it’s over, though. I’ve run out of things to say about how mediocre these films are. I had hoped for some kind of improvement, but the franchise has remained at a standstill for the past 25 years. In fact, for all its flaws I still have to call the first 1988 film the best of the series. At least it did something entertaining and interesting. Appleseed α is wholly forgettable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7x7Fw7w4z0

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