It seems to have been quite a while since the last Appleseed made an appearance, and this prequel contains just about enough action and entertainment to make up for such a prolonged absence.
Luci Christian and David Matranga return in this feature to voice Deunan and Briareos, which I am especially glad for. In the original Appleseed film, I felt having different voice actors was not necessarily a mistake, but in the case of Briareos' character, I found he seemed far too robotic, and in that sense, less sympathetic for a majority of the feature, whereas Mr. Matranga's interpretation seems far more human, and in that sense, an easier character for Deunan to get along with, promoting their relationship. Although this is the case in this new Appleseed, unlike in the TV series, or even Ex Machina, there is little mention about the love they share. It is, as always, exhibited in their continued saving of one another, but never are the words actually conveyed.
Moreover, for those who really enjoyed some of the characters of the original films, prepare to be somewhat disappointed. As a prequel, such characters do not make a resurgence as our leading couple are yet to reach Olympus, so if you were a massive fan of the character Hitomi (like I am), among many of the other city's inhabitants, you are going to have to sadly go without their presence.
Although these characters do not return, the action certainly does. Originally when I realized this film was shorter than the previous two, I questioned if it would contain a narrative that was just as powerful. The film in question answers this by containing an equal number of action scenes and plot, with each of the characters having enough time on screen for the viewer to not only thoroughly enjoy them, but understand their motives and general history.
I guess now might be as good a time as any to mention, like many another person has, how gorgeous the visuals are. Unlike previous installments which, although beautiful, still retained the obvious animated look, here, the graphics have accelerated into the future. Deunan especially looks absolutely divine, her face pampered with freckles, dirt, grunge, and other physical trademarks any stereotypical heroine would exhibit in a live action feature. Characters with cybernetic implants, like Briareos and new antagonist Two Horns, appear to be just as stellar, the robotic composition of their forms not only looking inhuman, but feeling it too, whereas the inclusion of jewellery and facial modifications upon some enemy cyborgs beneficially aids in expressing the personality of such characters.
Readers may remember when the graphics of Final Fantasy the Spirits Within were first viewed, there was many a criticism that they looked too realistic. The graphics of Appleseed Alpha potentially pushes this envelop even further, with everything from skin tone, to the moist texture of the eyes immersing the viewer into a digitally groundbreaking world, and with nearly 15 years between Final Fantasy and today, hopefully audiences have come to acquire an appreciation for such unfathomable detail.
Furthermore, the fight scenes are utterly mesmerizing to behold; the explosions are fantastic, the punch-ups are, as always, frenetically engaging, and the level of destruction is off the charts. Although on one hand, many of the robotic constructs, from the generic creations to the far more dangerous variety are based upon designs previously seen, the new graphical details make all the difference in bringing new life to a series that has been in existence on screen since 1988.
If I was to pose a question about the film though, I might query what it is a prequel to. Viewers may remember at the beginning of the original film, Deunan had never seen Briareos in his new outfit prior to her arrival in Olympus, whereas in the TV show, it was her who signed off on the surgery, the two of them moving from place to place prior to 'settling down'. During this film, Briareos has already undergone surgery, hence, causing me to question where in the Appleseed universe this particular movie exists.
Regardless, this does not impose on the storyline, and by the end, Appleseed Alpha proves there is still much life in the series yet, with this new venture, looking, sounding and feeling quite unlike anything before. On a side note, if like me you wish for Deunan Knute to one day marry you, after watching this feature, you will certainly be justified in your crush.
Review by Derek Childs from the Internet Movie Database.