Although the story the director tells is not as well worked out as, perhaps, it could have been, and there are times when it can be arbitrary or formulaic, it does have a sufficient number of appealing qualities to retrain the viewer's interest. In fact, there is a subtlety to the narrative that I did enjoy. The movie's villains, for example, are not generally merely cackling fiends. While they may engage in immoral actions, they do so not out of a desire to do evil, but out of a hope of benefiting mankind. Thanks to such an approach, and the skill with which relatively complex plot elements involving such themes are woven together, the story the director tells is never dull.
Moreover, Deunan, the movie's protagonist, is intriguing and reasonably well delineated. The viewer, as a result, is likely to find himself concerned about her throughout the film's duration. While some of the director's attempts to reveal her mind and heart are, admittedly, more successful than others, most, nonetheless, keep the moviegoer involved.
Appleseed's action sequences are, however, without a doubt, its best parts. All are fluid, stylish, inventively realized, and thrilling. At different points, the viewer is treated to the sight of Deunan battling a team of robots shaped like women who are wielding whips able to cut through flesh or metal, that same character taking on entire brigades of nightmarish mechanical warriors or heavily armed soldiers, and her and the other protagonists attempting to stop a herd of spider-like walking fortresses. Even if the viewer finds that he does not care for anything else in the movie, it is still likely that he will be carried away by these scenes. Many of them truly are exciting. Actually, they are some of the best such routines I have encountered in any film.
Finally, I will confess that I am not a great admirer of all computer generated animation. While there are directors, such as those at Studio Ghibli, who have made good use of such techniques, many others are intent on employing computers to create photographically realistic images that are completely lacking in appeal. Animation has as much potential to surpass live action in bringing out how an artist feels about his subject as painting so surpasses photography. It is, consequently, a shame that so many animators attempt to ape the look of things as they are, rather than as they are felt, thinking that their work will be of greater worth if they do so.
Appleseed, sadly, often falls victim to this misguided approach, but it retains enough stylization and a sufficient number of appealing designs so that it is still pleasant to look at. Olympus is a pretty forgettable future city, but many of the technological items with which it is filled are nicely designed. The robotic Briareos, with his spider-like mechanical face and his long metal rabbit ears, is a joy, as are many of the robots he and Deunan encounter. The designs of human characters, however, range from awkward to genuinely attractive. Deunan is captivatingly athletic and surprisingly sexy, but others look as though they were lifted from some video game. That said, although the viewer may never be awed by the beauty of the film's images, it is still likely that he will enjoy watching them.
Whatever its shortcomings, Appleseed is a fun and appealing movie. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is entertaining.
Review by Keith Allen
© 2006 email@example.com Keith Allen. All rights reserved.