|Disappointing adaptation||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
When I first started reading manga in High School, one of the creators whose works I read a lot of was Masamune Shirow's work, mainly Ghost in the Shell, with a little bit of Appleseed as well. With that sense of nostalgia in mind, I watched Shinji Aramaki's adaptation of Appleseed.
In Appleseed, Earth's present (which is in our future) is bleak. Much of the world has been ravaged by an apocalyptic war. One of the few outposts of civilization is the city of Olympus, run by the AI Gaia and the Council of Elders. There Humans and artificially created humans called Bioroids live more or less in peace in prosperity. Soldier Deunan Knute is brought from the ruined outskirts into this world to deal with a threat that this utopian society faces from within – a faction of the military, lead by Gen. Uranus and Col. Hades, that seeks to wipe out all the Bioroids. Only Deunan and her old lover, Briareos, can stop Uranus plot.
The film is animated using CGI animation and I'm not too pleased with it. The animators tried to make the characters look anime-style while also trying to make them look realistic, and they didn't pull it off. To be fair, part of the problem with this is the source material – Shirow's art style tries to hit some sort of happy medium between realism and being stylized. This works on the printed page, and it even works on the screen with 2D animation. It even works with 3D animation with his vehicles. It runs into problems though when depicting people in 3D. Eastern animation studios have succeeded at doing stylized characters in CGI, as with Imagi's work on TMNT and Astro Boy. Square-Enix has succeeded at doing more realistic characters with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and, to a certain extent, The Spirits Within. However, when they try to find a happy medium between the extremes, they fail, which is unfortunate.
The story runs into its own problems as well. Ghost in the Shell achieved its popularity based on its story, which I'd almost describe as proto-transhumanist. This story, on the other hand, is nowhere near as mature. It feels like a political theory put forward by a middle school student in his journal. The essential conflict of the film, without spoilers, is essentially between two dictatorships. On one side is the benevolent dictatorship of Gaia, a near perfect AI, who has run Utopia flawlessly, without running into any sort of human prejudices. On the other side, we have General Uranus, who seeks to install a totalitarian regime with genocidal ends. There is no middle ground. To the contrary, the film explicitly says that humans mess up everything they touch, which is why Gaia was created in the first place – to take choice out of our hands. It's a trite argument at best, and this isn't the best presentation of it. To be fair to Shirow, it's been a while since I've read Appleseed, so this could be the writer of the film's fault, not Shirow's.
All in all, this film is almost entirely average. The animation doesn't really work for me. The story doesn't work for me. I'm just not impressed with this movie.