So what do you do when you’re handed a DVD, you look at the cover and title, and you pop the disc into your player right away because you’re certain that this is going to be a fun show to see… and then you have to work continually throughout the viewing to keep your enthusiasm up?
That pretty much sums up my experience with Pioneer’s Armitage: Dual-Matrix release, the sequel to the vastly-superior Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, itself a conglomeration of the original Armitage OAVs. I wanted to like this movie a lot. Instead I can only like it a little bit.
What’s wrong with it, you ask? The animation quality is good, but just a little too “computery.” The plot is good, but just a little too “contrived.” The voice work is good, but just a little too “cheesy.” (How often, by the way, do we need to be told that Juliette Lewis is the voice of Armitage? Big whoop, Pioneer.)
The story feels like it takes place in a vacuum, or that it’s a stage show with pretty sets but no background characters taking up available space. One gets the impression that for all the effort the animators went to in order to show us cool fight scenes, they didn’t want to be bothered animating background characters.
I won’t bore you with a plot synopsis. Suffice to say that the robot-girl Armitage is given cause to take a trip to Earth to provide us with lots of butt-kicking action. Oh, and her daughter is used as an emotional pawn at least once. And her husband spends a lot of time standing around like a statue. Hmm, I’ve given too much away already.
There are other minor problems as well, including a fully-3D car chase that looks, well, fully-3D. One also wonders at the animation technique used, since a lot of the shadows that fall on characters’ faces have stair-step jaggies. Every time I see that particular artifact I get pulled completely out of the story, amazed that anyone could have missed that glaring error even once, let alone as often as you see it in this film.
One positive note (pun intended) is that the Special Edition release has very pretty menus, including the option to play three of the musical selections in 5.1 surround sound. However, once the novelty of this feature has worn off you realize that the music isn’t all that great to begin with. It’s not bad, it’s just… not that good either. Sort of like the rest of this feature. The “making of” featurette is better than I expected, with the exception of the terrible interview with Juliette Lewis. One wonders if she threw some sort of star-power fit to get so much of her face and name on this release.
Oh yes, and check out Ahmed Best doing his best (pun intended) Jar-Jar impersonation. But wait, he is the voice of Jar-Jar. Um.
I do plan to use this DVD to make a music video or two, as it does contain a great many nicely-animated action sequences. If you’re handed this disc as a freebie, enjoy. If you’re out shopping, skip over this one in favor of the original.