PictureAppleseed: Ex-Machina comes to Blu-ray with a solid if unexceptional 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. It is pretty good, but not quite exceptional, and arguably the CG animation shows off any flaws more obviously. Detail is generally superior, particularly when it comes to acute shading and the layering of hair, but there is sporadic softness, which you really expect not to be so apparent on this kind of release. Still, it's a long way from being bad to look at and some of the characters and close-ups look superb - particularly when lovingly focussing on the lead heroine. There is a little 3D depiction, not quite as much depth as you would have hoped for, and in this respect some scenes almost look like you what would expect from early-days green-screen. The palette is extremely broad and vibrant, each tone carefully and realistically rendered, making for a vivid colour scheme. Blacks are quite solid and overall it is a superb presentation, just perhaps not the picture-perfect one you would expect from material that is so perfect for such a realisation.
SoundTo accompany the movie on its Blu-ray release we get couple of punchy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, with both the original Japanese and dubbed English variation. I'm sure fans would have hoped for something better suited to showcase the best that this format has to offer, but the technically standard tracks are far from bad. Dialogue comes at you clearly and coherently, predominantly from across the frontal array. Sound effects are fairly commonplace, with some noisy gunfights that bounce bullets across your living room and give the track some serious dynamic and spatial qualities. Between some of the more raging shootouts and some of the explosions and crashes the LFE channel even gets a little bit of a look-in. Atmospherics are also well depicted and create a suitably realistic environment for the primarily urban sequences. The score is a rather strange affair, at times Aphex Twin, at times Commodore 64, but oddly suited to the on-screen action nevertheless, building up the tension and speed of the proceedings, and adding to the atmosphere during some of the more spectacular set-pieces. Overall, it's a super track, but one can only wonder how much better it would have been had they bothered to upgrade to a TrueHD track.
VerdictAppleseed ExMachina is an entertaining sci-fi anime, boasting glorious visuals, some engaging characters and plenty of John Woo action. It looks pretty good on Blu-ray and comes with a decent enough audio track as well as a reasonable set of extras, so if you like anime in general then you shouldn't be disappointed with renting this affair. Those who love the Appleseed tales (or Ghost in the Shell, also by Masamune Shirow) will probably already have this for their collection, but even newcomers to the whole anime affair should consider giving this a chance as an introduction.
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