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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 ($35) 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 Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. APPLESEED EX MACHINA looks phenomenal on Blu-ray and is the kind of animated programming that was made for high definition. Every highly textured detail is up on the screen. Direct comparisons between a great looking DVD and the Blu-ray Disc serves to reveal the stunning clarity and a level of detail that one just doesnít realize is present 3D animated films. There were moments where the comparisons left this reviewerís mouth hanging open savoring the beauty of the hi-def presentation. Colors are rich and vibrant without ever appearing cartoony. Black and whites are always right on the money. Contrast and the shading of darker sequences are excellent. The 1080p presentation seems to have been taken from the digital files and appears flawless.

APPLESEED EX MACHINA is offered on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. Overall, this is an absolutely first rate Dolby Digital soundtrack, but a lossless encode could have booted it into the stratosphere. The higher bit rate on Blu-ray provides for a somewhat fuller sound quality than what is found on the DVD. APPLESEED EX MACHINA features a highly aggressive sound design that blasts sound all over the soundstage during the numerous action sequences. Heck, this is one of those tracks where explosions and gunfire erupt from every corner. Fidelity is strong at both the top and bottom ends, with the subwoofer channel shaking the ground pretty well. 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.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some choice supplements. 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. Shirow's Journey: The Appleseed Chronicles looks at the world of Appleseed and the series creator. Appleseed Ex Machina: East Meets West spends eighteen minutes looking at how Japanese and American cultures influence one another from the perspective of manga/anime.

As I stated above, APPLESEED EX MACHINA is a phenomenal achievement in the realm of anime and the Blu-ray Disc looks incredible. Highly recommended.



Appleseed Ex Machina [Blu-ray] (2007)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc 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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