I finally got around to watching Appleseed (the 2004 movie). It was a really strange experience.
I watch a ton of movies, and I watch a lot of animated movies. I’m particularly fascinated by movies that do crazy things, that show the viewer a new world. While I understand that Howard’s End may be a quality movie, it’s unlikely I’m going to flip over it.
But back to my point — I love seeing something entirely new in a movie. So I loved the Matrix, and (like many) was disappointed by the sequels. I didn’t like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but I was smiling while watching it, enjoying the sheer head-first energy that showed in its creation.
Appleseed was both good and terrible.
The graphics are beautiful, as great as any I’ve ever seen in an animated movie. There’s a great sense of style: the landscapes are beautiful, if sometimes too shiny (which along with “weight” is a endemic problem to animated films). But the characters are flatter, looking more like traditional cell-shaded animation. And some of the scenes are just amazing, I was floored at how good they looked, they were almost electric to watch. I don’t get that back-of-the-head tingle very often, so it’s notable for that if nothing else.
The downside was that it’s based on an animated series (or possible a comic book?) so there’s a long plot that possibly makes sense in context, but here’s my plot summary, with spoilers:
Deunan’s a soldier, fighting these evil armored dudes (robots? cyborgs?) in a destroyed metropolis. During a reaaaally cool fight scene, she’s trapped but rescued by armored dudes in white suits. They take her to this utopia city.
One of the people who rescued her was a former fellow soldier who got blown up and is now mostly dorky-looking robot parts. In this utopia city, there are two races: humans and genetically engineered clones called “bioriods” who are tweaked. In the utopia, the humans control the army (these humans are anti-bioroid), and there’s this council that works with the supercomputer that controls everything.
New story begins: someone tries to kill Deunan. Her comrade aids and then betrays a regular army/terrorist coup. That coup turns out to have been engineered by the council, who is trying to destroy all humans for some reason. Their scheme is stymied by Deunan, and the utopia city is saved.
There were times during the movie that I was swept up in a scene or even just looking at the city and didn’t care, but particularly during exposition scenes I kept thinking “that doesn’t make sense, how would they have known that at the time? Why would that character do that then, if they knew… whaaaaat?”
By comparison, take “Kung Fu Hustle”. Not as deep — you’re not intended to watch KFH and contemplate the essential horror of man’s inhumanity to man, or whether humanity’s warlike nature dooms us. But it’s a much more fun movie, with the same kind of nutty sense of the world it lives in, and after I’d seen it I felt a lot more happier and satisfied.
So Appleseed: wacky.