A.Li.Ce (1999)

I’m not one of those 2-D snobs when it comes to my animation. I realize that there is a contingent of folks out there that bemoan the disappearance of the traditionally drawn “flat” animation and bitterly complain about how cartoons have lost something with the advent of computer generated images. Like anything else though, the old style animation was just as capable as producing crap as any art form. If you don’t believe me, then you never sat through Saturday morning cartoons during the 1980s. (With the exception of Thundarr the Barbarian of course.)

I say all this to show that I don’t have a problem if a movie wants to look like a high-grade cutscene from a video game, which is what A.LI.CE will remind you of. I do have a problem though when a movie’s story and characters have all the depth of a video game cutscene. And unfortunately, A.LI.CE will remind you of that as well.

While the movie impresses visually right from the start with its chase scene through a wintry Lapland, you keep waiting for the story to be more than it appears to be and for the characters to exhibit some personality beyond the generic parts they inhabit (the heroine, the crabby guy who helps the heroine, the robot waitress who helps the crabby guy and the heroine).

Sadly though, nothing happens in the movie that lifts it up out of that typical “future world ruled by evil computer” slop that anime seems to serve up on a regular basis. In fact, the film takes this standard story and dumbs it down to an even smaller scale than we’re used to seeing in such things. Our three characters confront the bad guy at the end of things while another poorly realized bad guy shows up to try to be an even bigger bad guy and some stuff blows up and that’s about all that happens.

The sudden appearance of Nicoli, the leader of the rebel group, the Liberators, at the end of things where he announces his plans for world domination (yawn – get in line, we’re still trying to deal with the evil Nero who currently dominates the world) is only the culmination of a half-thought out story line that can’t be bothered to flesh out its own concepts.

At its most basic, you sort of have a Terminator story in reverse. You may recall that in that movie, a robot was sent from the future to the past to kill off the mother of the guy who would grow up and lead the fight against the evil robots that run that future world. Makes sense to me. In this movie, the Liberators have snatched Alice from the past to fight her son in the future who grows up to be the man/computer thing that rules the world.

You might ask yourself why they just didn’t pull a Terminator on her and just send someone back into the past to kill her, but a character explains that messing with the past like that could have unforeseen consequences.

Two things about that. One, you’re already messing with the past by taking her thirty years into the future and two, your world is already ruled by some big evil thing that’s caused the disappearance of seven-eighths of the world’s population – what could you do to the past to make your current world worse?

Okay, so the set up isn’t the greatest, but maybe it gets really interesting once we’re fully caught up in the fate of this future world, right? Wrong.

Alice is helped by a Lapland boy and the robot he fixed up. After fending off attacks by the bad guys, they get caught by the rebel group and shipped back to their base. The Liberators want Alice because she’s the only one that can hack into Nero’s brain and through his security systems.

Nero is a computer guru who grew up in an orphanage because his dad was killed in some war and his mom (the future Alice, not our Alice) went into a coma when he was born and never woke up. He currently has her hooked up to him through some computer gizmo so that he can talk to her or listen in on her thoughts or something. The reason he took over the world is because of what he believes his mother wanted based on what he saw of her thoughts. It really makes less sense than all that, but you get the point.

I don’t how it was that Nero was able to take over the world by plugging himself into his mom’s USB port, but then again if he could take over the world and make all but 12.5% of the people on Earth disappear, why couldn’t he make those rebels disappear as well?

When we finally discover just what Nero is up to and why and the fact that it all relates to a gal pal of Alice’s that committed suicide, you’re left to wonder whether the filmmakers ever let a normal person read their script. That they try and shoehorn an environmental message into all of this doesn’t add much to things other than to the general disorganization of the story. It all made me wish this was just a video game cutscene so that I could press the “skip” button.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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