Appleseed Alpha (Blu-ray Review)

Appleseed Alpha - www.whysoblu.comFrom the creator of Ghost in the Shell and the director of Appleseed comes the intense post-apocalyptic prequel, Appleseed: Alpha. Left to survive in a post-World War society, two mercenary soldiers – Deunan and her cyborg partner Briareos – are sent on a mission on the outskirts of their war-torn city. During the operation, they run into Iris and Olson, two citizens from the utopian city of Olympus, who might have a way to save the world but the ruthless Talos and the scheming warlord Two Horns have their own plans. It’s up to Deunan and Briareos to safeguard their newfound contacts and help save humanity’s last hope.




Appleseed Alpha is the new computer generated film featuring the timeless characters of Deunan and Briareos in their latest adventures that calls of them to save what’s left of the dystopian world around them. It’s literally Mad Max out there with only pockets of resistance and what looks like a too good to be true utopia called Olympus. The latter part is almost incidental, as it really doesn’t come into play until the very end. For now Deunan and Briareos have to deal with the local cyborg kingpin known as Two Horns. Do you know why they call him Two Horns? He has two horns. He’s a cyborg with TWO horns! Yeah…

I’m not knocking the characters at all but maybe I’ve been out of the Appleseed loop for many years now, having watched Appleseed (2005), which at the time had pioneered a new version of CGI that looked like a blend of rotoscoped traditional animation, with some computer generated enhancements. It was a good flick but from what I’ve seen recently and to compare it to Alpha, would not do it a great service. Anyways, the latter part is beside the point. This is Appleseed Alpha, so let’s move on.

In Appleseed Alpha we have Deunan and Briareos doing Two Horns dirty work of trying to obtain a package that may or may not have the key to saving the world. Since Duenan and Briareos are also on their last charge and need help they make a deal with Two Horns in exchange for a cool down and supplies. Now they have to run an errand for him and retrieve some precious cargo. Along the way they encounter what look to be other cyborgs that don’t look anything like ordinary cyborgs. These are called “bio-roids,” and I’m iffy as to the difference. I think bio-roids have more organic parts than the traditional Borgs that wander the scorched Earth.

Hot on the trail of these bio-roids are a group of high-tech robots that want what one of them is carrying. Apparently it’s the key to Olympus or something of that nature. This is where all bets are off and those that were not friends before will have to team up in order to take down the high advanced bad guys. Appleseed Alpha is great to look at but the story is a bit lean, as is the running time. No, I have not kept up with the series at all and only watched the self-titled film almost 10 years ago. Alpha has the chance to revitalize the franchise (not really sure if revitalizing is the correct word), because Alpha IS entertaining enough on a basic level. It reminded me of the early anime films of my youth. Good guys save the world, bad guys die.

Appleseed Alpha tones the carnage down by being PG-13 and it’s fine. I do hope that this new iteration of the franchise is successful enough to keep it going much like the CGI films of Resident Evil have kept that franchise going. There are plenty of more stories to tell that I hope see the light of day. For now, you get Alpha, so enjoy what you’ve got.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: The clarity and detail that went into the film is quite staggering and the fact that many scenes take place in broad daylight only enhance the dystopian landscape we are shown. Contrast may have been boosted here and there but overall the image rocks.

Depth: This is a 2-D film but the level of depth sucks you right in from the get-go.

Black Levels: Black levels crushed here and there but mainly during the subway scenes at the beginning of the film. They had that look to them as if someone had turned the contrast levels all the way up making the black levels look a muddy grey. Good thing that went away soon thereafter.

Color Reproduction: Banding shows up here and there but doesn’t really distract. CGI animated films tend to band more often than not, though.

Flesh Tones: Uh, they’re not real people, so I don’t think I can comment on “flesh tones.”

Noise/Artifacts: The image is relatively clean and free from noise and artifacts.



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, German DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Korean, Spanish

Dynamics: I don’t know what happened but this lossless soundtrack is very anemic. There are many opportunities to showcase the sound design that are ultimately squandered. The volume is too low and most of it is front left/right heavy. I’ll explain more in the individual sections but I was not pleased.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE should have pulverized me into mush but it didn’t. It teased me and then delivered unremarkable low-end bass. Sure there’s low bass but you can’t feel a thing.

Surround Sound Presentation: By far the biggest culprit is the lack of a dynamic surround sound field. There’s hardly anything flying around back there and the ambient levels are non-existent.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean and crisp and everyone can be heard in a clean and clear fashion.

Appleseed Alpha


Appleseed Alpha has a filmmakers’ commentary, with subtitles and an 11-part making-of documentary. The 11-part documentary can be watched in parts. All things considered – it’s not a bad couple of supplements.

  • Filmmakers Commentary – Here’s a commentary with the filmmakers as they discuss what went into the making of Appleseed Alpha. It’s subtitled in English and various other languages for your viewing pleasure.
  • In Depth 11-Part Making-of Documentary (HD, 52:09) – Here’s a very informative and entertaining look at what went into the making of Appleseed Alpha from its conception to inception. Did I use those words correctly? You know what I mean. 😉

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 Appleseed Alpha is a neat 90-minute time waster with pretty visuals and a decent script that seems to just be starting off in this new “Alpha-verse.” I’d love to stick around for future editions that can shed more light into how the world got to this point. The Blu-ray has slightly above average technical specifications – the video/audio/extras could have been better but what we get is what we get. If you’re a die-hard Appleseed fan then you’ll get this anyway and if you’re just a casual fan of animation or CGI-animation then Appleseed Alpha is definitely worth a rental.

Order Appleseed Alpha on Blu-ray!

Appleseed Alpha - www.whysoblu.com


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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