tek's rating: ¾

Appleseed (R)
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This is based on manga by Shirow Masamune, which makes sense, because it definitely has a "Ghost in the Shell" feel to it. But I've never read the manga, and I don't know how much the movie diverges from it. Anyway, the movie is from 2004, and um... it's got a lot of CG animation, which is part of what makes it feel a lot like a video game. That and all the techno music. And all the battles with big guns and mecha and whatnot. Yeah, it's definitely got a very cool look to it. But it also has the kind of "WTF is going on?" lack of sense-making that makes it feel to me like a 1980s anime. Oh, also I'll say that I found all the women in the movie attractive, but the CG kind of made it a weird sort of attraction, like being into mannequins or something.

Anyway, it was fairly hard for me to follow what was going on, for much of the movie, because clearly there's a lot of history to which the viewer is not privy. It's set in the 22nd century, and there's been an ongoing war that we don't really get to know anything about. But whatever, war is war. And I'd say if the viewer is a bit confused, it's kind of a good thing, because it ultimately puts us in the same boat as the main character, a young woman named Deunan Knute, who is a pretty bad-ass soldier. The movie starts with her and some other soldiers in a fight against... I don't even know whats. But she seems to be the only one in her group to survive. But she probably wouldn't have, if not for the sudden arrival of some guys from E S.W.A.T., who quickly defeated her enemies, then captured her and took her back to their city, Olympus.

Olympus is a fairly idyllic place, and probably the only place on Earth that hasn't been devastated by the war. In fact, it's here that Deunan learns the war is technically over, though I really have no idea how that works, since there are still presumably a great many people like her out there fighting, not having heard that the war is over. And like I said, I really have no idea what the war's even about. Maybe the movie explains it, but not in a way that seemed very clear to me. I can only assume it has to do with humans and bioroids, but that's probably wrong. I dunno. Anyway, bioroids look like humans, but they're synthetic. And they can't reproduce. And their emotions are inhibited, especially the negative ones. So they can't get angry and stuff. Basically, their function is to ensure the survival of humanity by... being peaceful, I guess. But of course, there are people who don't like them, who see them as a threat to humanity rather than its saviors. This is probably because pretty much the whole government, including Prime Minister Athena, are bioroids. I guess. I don't really understand the government of Olympus, actually. There's a council of elders, who I'm pretty sure are all human, and I'm not sure what their position is, politically speaking, in comparison to Athena and the senate or whatever. But I guess Athena is like in charge of ESWAT, a military group. But there's another military group, the "regular army," led by General Uranus, who don't like bioroids. So the whole situation is very tenuous. Also there's a computer called Gaia, which pretty much controls everything in Olympus, supposedly, but its understanding of things is sort of, you know, that of a non-emotional computer, but supplemented by the human understanding of the elders.

Anyway, Deunan is brought into the middle of all this, which is all quite new to her, and makes her realize her battles have been meaningless. However, she's reunited with a former comrade and lover, Briareos, who had disappeared a couple years earlier. Since she last saw him, his body was heavily damaged, and he's been repaired, but he's now mostly machine. And he has become an important member of ESWAT. Also, there's a bioroid named Hitomi, who works for ESWAT, and is also close to the elders, apparently. And she becomes friends with Deunan. Anyway, at some point there's an attack by terrorists, which... puts the continued existence of bioroids in grave peril, so Deunan, Briareos, and ESWAT have to try to find something called "Appleseed," data which had been hidden by Dr. Gilliam, the late scientest who created the bioroids; this data could save them, but it would mean a drastic shift in the balance of power between humans and bioroids, I guess. So, naturally, General Uranus wants the data destroyed. I don't want to say anything too spoilery, but the search for Appleseed will lead to Deunan recovering repressed memories from her childhood. And... ultimately, we learn that... things are more complicated than they seemed. There's some sort of moral debate about the nature of humanity, and the species' fate, and stuff.

I'm not saying how it all ends, but there's a sequel called "Ex Machina," which I might like to see someday. Meanwhile, as for this film... eh, I don't really know quite how I feel. Once I got a handle on things, more or less, it seemed kind of interesting, I guess. But it's just all so convoluted that I was never entirely sure which side I was rooting for, if any. I think both sides were kind of right and kind of wrong. But whatever, at least there were plenty of cool battles and music and stuff.


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