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Based upon the work of renowned manga artist Masamune Shirow, produced by John Woo and directed by Shinji Aramaki, APPLESEED EX MACHINA ($25) is a phenomenal achievement in the realm of anime. Blending full 3D computer animation with the look of traditional cel based anime; APPLESEED EX MACHINA creates a stylistic hybrid that is visually stunning. The premise of APPLESEED EX MACHINA, like so many other manga/animes is set in a post nuclear apocalyptic future, where mankind comes back from the brink of destroying themselves. In this future, we find the world in the process of rebuilding itself, with the utopian city/state of Olympus arising to try to unite the rest of humanity. However, mankind still bears the scars of the war, with many of the casualties being reconditioned as cyborgs. In addition to cyborgs, this new world also integrates bioroids, genetically engineered humans, who have had strong emotions removed from their makeup.

The central characters in APPLESEED EX MACHINA are Olympus ESWAT Special Forces soldiers Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner/lover Briareos Hecatonchires. Their already complicated relationship is further complicated by the arrival of Tereus, a prototype bioroid soldier, who was created from Briareosí DNA. Facing a doppelganger is not only difficult for Briareos, but also for Deunan, who hasnít seen her loverís real face since the incident that transformed him into a cyborg. However, personal problems prove to be the least of Deunan and Briareosí concerns, when a new terrorist threat emerges that places planetary peace at risk.

Warner Home Video has made APPLESEED EX MACHINA available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly great looking DVD, which compares very favorably to its high definition Blu-ray Disc counterpart. The image is crisp and features a good level of detail. The only time this DVD comes up a little short is in direct comparison to its high definition counterpart. Colors are strongly rendered and stable. Both the blacks and whites appear accurate. Contrast is smooth and the darker sequences are never muddy. APPLESEED EX MACHINA seems to have been taken from the digital files and appears flawless. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern.

APPLESEED EX MACHINA comes with a potent Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. APPLESEED EX MACHINA features a highly aggressive sound design where explosions and gunfire erupt from every corner. Fidelity is pretty strong at both the top and bottom ends, with the subwoofer channel shaking the ground pretty well. In comparison to the Blu-ray Disc, the DVD soundtrack seems a bit thinner and a bit brighter, but is still pretty terrific. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French, Cantonese, Dutch, German and Japanese language tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Chinese, Dutch, German and Korean.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. The disc features a running Audio Commentary with producer Joe Chou and renowned anime expert Jerry Beck. Team-Up: John Woo And Shinji Aramaki is a sixteen minute look at the bringing together of the talent behind the production. Revolution: Animating Ex Machina is an eighteen-minute program looking at animation process utilized for the film.

As I stated above, APPLESEED EX MACHINA is a phenomenal achievement in the realm of anime. The DVD looks great and really holds its own against its high definition counterpart.



Appleseed Ex Machina (Single-Disc Edition) (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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