Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: Arabic, Dutch, English, German, Korean
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Run Time: 93 minutes
I went into this film with no previous knowledge or experience with the Appleseed franchise, which didn’t matter much in terms of understanding the story of this prequel. I may have lost some of the nuances along the way, but there is little within the sci-fi anime storyline which hasn’t been covered dozens of time before. The emphasis never remains on the plot any longer than necessary, instead making this prequel a film about post-apocalyptic spectacle. The visuals and action sequences utilizing them are the main focus of the film, and they are almost impressive enough to distract from the cliché and predictable narrative.
Picking up the story after the devastation of World War III, the world contains as many cyborgs as it does humans. Deunan is a human mercenary partnered up with the cyborg Briareos, destroying rogue robots leftover from the war under the employ of the untrustworthy warlord, Two Horns. Along with worrying about the intentions of their boss, Deunan and Briareos are faced with another decision when they come across two citizens from a mysterious utopian city called
Fans of the franchise know that this city will be at the center of the
narrative, but this prequel focuses on the time leading up to that discovery.
The story may lack much imagination in terms of coming up with a new post-apocalyptic vision, but there is plenty of work in the animation to make up for the narrative shortcomings. This franchise has always been a few steps ahead of the class in terms of animation, and Appleseed Alpha lives up to the reputation with some jaw-dropping visuals. Some of the shots look nearly real, with the human movement and eyes still remaining the Achilles heel of animation. Much of Appleseed Alpha, like past films in this franchise, looks and feels like a video game without any of the fun that comes with playing along.
The Blu-ray release comes with an added digital HD copy of the film, along with a filmmaker’s commentary and an in-depth 11-part making-of documentary. There have been some criticisms online over the choice to release this film without the option of the original Japanese-language track, but I never found the English-speaking voice actors to be a distraction. I suppose it would take a more dedicated fan than myself to properly condemn or compliment some of the choices made.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10