MangaScifi
A.Li.Ce
.
Dir: Kenichi Maejima
Star: Various voice talent
Cert / Year: 15 - NR / 1999
Format: DVD R0
'

ArtsmagicDVD.COM - Japanese Film Specialist
Artsmagic.CO.UK - Japanese Film Specialist ArtsmagicDVD.COM - Japanese Film Specialist

Teen idol Alice is going to be the youngest astronaut when she travels into space on the shuttle. However things do not go to plan when instead of space she finds herself in the icy wastes of Lapland thirty years into the future. What is worse is that she is being pursued by the deadly robotic guards of Nero and his all-powerful computer. She escapes with the help of a local Ewan and his robotic maid Maria only to find that the forces of Nikolai and his freedom fighters are also after her. With both sides closing in on her she will have to face her own future as the fate of humanity will depend on the outcome.

It has to be said that some of the more recent Manga offers have delivered great science fiction stories. The best example of this is the superb Metropolis that blended a superb story with some stunning visuals. Alice is another slice of this sci-fi Manga and this time like most of the modern American animated features it is totally computer generated. So bearing in mind that the film is five years old how do the visuals compare to A Bug's Life, and can the story cut it compared to Metropolis?

The action starts with a fun ice speeder chase, but with the total lack of back-story it is a rather baffling place to begin. In fact although the story quickly settles down it never manages to explain this this opening in a satisfactory way. Luckily this can be glossed over as when the plot starts to unfold as it proves to be both interesting and rather exciting. The clashes between the rebels and the robots ensure a high action quotient but underneath it all runs a very intelligent story of population control. In fact Masahiro Yoshimoto's script turns out to be the films strongest plus point, and one that papers over the film's more glaring faults.

The worst fault is the quality of the animation used. We are not talking Pixar here more the level of the average computer game cut scene. While watching it we did argue amongst are selves whether this style of animation was a conscious choice or a technical limitation, and after watching the whole film it was obviously the later. In many ways considering the massive cost involved in the hardware needed to create this form of film, added to the fact that the Japanese do lag a way behind the American firms in being able to afford it and in having the expertise to exploit it maybe it is understandable.

The sixty four million dollar question then becomes does this ruin the film? The answer to which is no, not really. The animation is good enough to get the plot across and after a while you get used to it. In fact the animation seems to improve the further into the film you get. This is greatly aided by Kenichi Maejima's direction which is very proficient in using many tried and tested Manga techniques.

Alice is a film that is well worth watching mainly due to its cracking story. Ok so visually it's rather rough but it is well but together. The on screen characters are excellent with the robot Maria often stealing the show (despite a bizarre image change halfway through). The start and end of the movie don't tie up too well but what is in between is a whole lot of robot blasting fun. Overall this is a welcome addition to the Manga sci-fi stable and marks the first steps towards a very exciting computer generated cartoon future.

Tagline

Her Past is the Future.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 16:9 Anamorphic Great picture from digital source limited only by quality of the source material.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 An excellent selection of soundtracks with great 5.1 tracks both in English and Japanese. Added to this we have some wonderfully clear subtitles.
Features 37 minute interview with the director, which while potentialy interesting is extremely static and hard going.
History of CGI, taken from a sci-fi convention this is a very interesting piece.
Small gallery of artwork.
Filmographies for director, writer, and designer.
Trailers for forthcoming ArtsmagicDVD releases.
Verdict A superb transfer and a couple of interesting extras make for a good disc.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home