The 2004 Appleseed remake was a difficult one for me to rate - On the one hand, it featured some fantastic set piece action sequences that I could happily watch over and over again (with the opening sequence of the movie possibly one of the best examples of choreographed action against a perfect soundtrack since The Matrix's infamous lobby scene), but on the other it had contained some very stilted dialogue and a plot that really didn't capture my imagination. The soundtrack also gave the movie a rather Westernised feel, which similarly both worked and failed to grab my interest in equal measure.
Appleseed Ex Machina sees Deunan Knute and Briareos reunited in action once again, and as would be fitting of a sequel to the 2004 Appleseed offering, it begins with a short but intense action sequence - Oh, did I mention a certain John Woo was involved in producing this movie? This call to action ends with Briareos hospitalising, giving Deunan a new partner to work with - Tereus, a bioroid who bears more than a passing resemblance to Briareos before he became the man-machine he currently lives his life as.
From here, the plot takes in the ups and downs of creating a global communications network, which the baddie of the piece then uses to send lolcats to the unsuspecting citizens of the world who are addicted to personal communication devices of their own. Okay, okay, so I made up the lolcat part. We also (in keeping with the original movie) have cause to question the morality of cloning and creating bionic humans with certain emotions removed, and see Deunan face up to the question of just how unswerving her love for Briareos is.
Or at least, we would be asked those questions were any of them really posed in any depth during the course of the movie. Although the Appleseed franchise is based on a work by Masamune Shirow, we see little in the way of his trademark philosophical, political and moral debates surface here. Instead, the focus is kept well and truly on the action side of the movie, keeping things moving thick and fast to ensure the explosions and gunfire keep coming.
This action-oriented focus certainly keeps the movie ticking along with a certain amount of entertainment throughout, although the action sequences never really caught my eye in the same way as the 2004 Appleseed remake managed, often simply being too fast and furious to fully appreciate even with the smatterings of inevitable bullet time effects. The use of CG in a cel animation style certainly makes for an interesting look for the movie (as it did its predecessor), giving it a video game feel that is in keeping with its action-packed nature. While the soundtrack isn't packed with big names like the movie before it, it still had a fair impact at times, to the point where I wouldn't mind taking a peek at the soundtrack at some point.
Overall then, if you're hoping for something thought-provoking out of Appleseed Ex Machina - Forget it, you really won't find it here. If a couple of hours of neat visuals and explosive action is more your bag, then this movie is a decent enough jaunt to pass the time. Personally, I preferred the first movie, but only by a whisker.