Story = B-
Video = B-
Audio = C
In an alternate 21st century, Japan's scientists has perfected the art of biotechnology and robotics, its benefits extending the lifespans of all humans. However, the United Nations deemed the advanced technology a dangerous threat and started strict surveillance on Japan. The government of Japan refused to abide by UN's demands to halt research, in the year 2067 left the UN and isolated itself visually and communically. Ten years later, an American special forces unit by the name of SWORD, led by its female commander named Vexille, are sent to uncover the current status of the isolated Japan, after the country begins its plan to move. The shocking secrets they find will shock the rest of the world. (Source: ANN)
I had no idea what this movie was about going into it, which is why I was able to enjoy it as much as I did. The only reason that I wanted to see it was because it was animated with CG, and I heard in some vague reviews that it was intelligently written. Well, it is CG, and to a certain extent it is smartly written, but it's the unknown elements that kept me interested.
The story takes place in an alternate Earth where Japan has become a technological powerhouse, but has also decided to totally isolate itself any outsiders, even going so far as to block satellite photography. So Commander Vexille and her crew need to sneak in and see what's up.
To me, the best part of this movie is the build-up to the forces trying to get into Japan. The idea of an entire nation cutting itself off from the rest of the world, after being embroiled in such epic events creates a huge sense of mystery and I was dying to know what kind of epic insanity was behind that isolation.
Although, when they actually get into Japan what they find isn't quite as mind-blowing as my imagination had lead me to believe. There is really only one part that was kind of cool, which I don't want to give away, but to me seems like an obvious homage to Dune. But even with that, the concept behind how it came to be seemed really far-fetched, even for a movie like this that's far fetched to begin with. (Vague enough for you?)
But even if it didn't quite meet my own expectations, it is still worthwhile watching and it is somewhat intelligently written. I think that "intelligent" part mostly has to do with the fact that it is referencing Japan's real-life attitudes toward isolationism. So there is more of a meaning behind the story that what is on the surface.
As for the visuals, the CG is similar to the first CG Appleseed movie, although the visuals here are a slight improvement. I'd actually say that it falls somewhere between the first and second Appleseed movies in terms of the quality. But there is nothing particularly original about the designs here, especially for a sci-fi storyline.
So in short, if you are going to watch this movie, I suggest not watching any of the trailers or reading too many plot summaries. Don't even watch the trailer that I have linked at the top of this post; even though the spoilers there are pretty minimal. But in this case, the less you know the better.