3 February 2008 | seiferalmasy63
A good action CG to stand along side Appleseed
Back story: Vexille 2007, Nihon Sakoku (Vexille 2007, Japan National Isolation) is set in the middle of this century, at about the edge of the foreseeable future. There has been rapid development in the areas of human-form robots, able to assist humanity with running it's civilization. Ten years ago, technology reached a point where completely human-made robots reached the peak of their potential. The trend shifted towards the augmentation of the human body, and the merging of man and machine. However, the basis and ethical implications of such technology were condemned by international treaties and organizations, and all development was banned. Japan (the world leader in robotics) was completely opposed to the condemnation, and the potential ban it found imposed on itself. Japan withdrew from the international community and went into national isolation.
Ten years later, there have been no visitors allowed in or out of Japan. There has been no cultural contact, and no shared media from Japan since the isolation. However, despite the self-imposed isolation, Japan remains the world leader in the field of robotics. The robots manufactured by the conglomerate DAIWA can be seen all over L.A., able to assist mankind with maintaining it's civilization. Before the isolation, the robotics industry was so vital to Japan that DAIWA had grown in to a colossal mega-conglomerate, with strong ties to every part of the government.
After two incidents of terrorism by DAIWA, outside of Japanese territory, America discovers that Japan may well have cyborg technology. Fearing the worst, America sends its most highly specialized team (Sword) to secretly infiltrate Japan, and gather intelligence.
The CG: There's no doubt that the CG is an important part of the appeal of this film, and for the most part, I think it comes off very well. Fans of the last major CG film released outside Japan will feel very at home with the visual style's blend of very photo realistic elements, such as mechs, landscapes, and high-paced action scenes, with low-polly toon-shaded actors. Although landscapes, mechs and characters are all very pleasing to the eye, the one complaint I have is that the characters sometimes suffer from very stiff movement, where motion capture seems to not have been used. Sometimes this stiff movement will happen between cuts in the middle of a scene, which tended to remind me that I was watching a CG movie.
The Music: The film also follows a similar flare to Appleseed, in its choice of dance and electronic artists such as Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites, Carl Craig, etc, and other more aesthetic tracks by Paul Okenfold. The blend of music does a good job of making the movie come alive, without sounding forced.
The story: The story was the most important thing for me, and probably the hardest to criticize. I enjoyed the story very much -- the progression is smooth, and easy to follow. The characters are presented well, and developed in enough detail to satisfy the viewer. The story progression starts very quickly, and immediately moves into meat of the story, which is infiltrating Japan. The story is spread out with a lot of action scenes, no doubt, because this is a CG movie. Most of which do a job in telling the story, but truth be told, are mostly for eye-candy value.
The main criticism I have of the story comes down to the complexity and presentation. I think as a CG film, Vexille didn't have enough time to devote to its story.
With a story so central to people and events of the past, I feel Vexille falls short in its delivery of everything it set up -- including the back story. Because of time constraints -- probably both in production and running time -- most of the story's revelations and plot points happen quite close together, which means the viewer's attention is often pulled away from one revelation to a new facet of the story, which does tend to dull the experience in the more dramatic scenes, and leaves little time to savour the experience.
In all honesty, I think a more expanded Vexille story could have easily filled another film, with a little bit still taken out. Of course, this is a natural part of cinema and story-telling, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing.
Final Verdict: I think Vexille is quite a solid CG film that stands apart from Applesed, with its own qualities, and enough differences to enjoy it for what it is. Although I was slightly disappointed by story in what I, personally, wanted to see, I think that just shows it to be a fairly well-balanced film, that I would recommend to anyone with a taste for action, CG or Japanese entertainment.