ARMITAGE III: DUAL MATRIX (2002)

 

Format: 90-minute feature

 

Rating: R (N, AC, AL, GV)

 

American Production: Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon)

 

Japanese Production: AIC/Pioneer LDC

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

A-

Mecha Design:

B-

Animation:

A-

Artistic Merits:

A-

English Voice Work:

B

Musical Score:

B

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

C+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C

DVD Extras:

B

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      NOTE: If you have not already watched Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, be aware that this review contains spoiler information concerning that movie!

 

      A few years after the events in the first movie, Armitage and Ross have taken new identities and settled down on Mars to raise their daughter Yoko. The events of the past and Armitage’s true nature as the “long-lost” Third will not allow them to remain at peace forever, however. When an anti-matter plant on Earth that’s really a cover for a secret project to develop new Thirds is raided and subsequently destroyed by the military under the guise of putting down a “robot uprising,” more than political turmoil concerning a movement for a Robot’s Rights bill is stirred up: one of the dying Thirds sends the data on the raid to Armitage, which compels her to go to Earth to investigate. There she runs afoul of Demetrio, the slimy head of a robocorp, who needs details on her to continue his own secret development of Thirds capable of giving birth. When diplomacy fails he resorts to kidnapping Yoko, who accompanied Ross to Earth on business. In the struggle to regain her daughter, Armitage is reunited with Ross (and, briefly, Julian) and gains a new ally of sorts in the form of a robot genius named Mouse, but facing her are souped-up duplicates of herself programmed only to kill. . .

 

The Long View

      In every sense Dual Matrix is a superior production to the original Poly-Matrix; what a difference six years makes! The clearest improvement is in the technical merits, where the CGI-driven graphics and animation (including a neat 3D-rendered car chase) are not only a quantum leap over the first series, but they actually rate among the better uses of CGI to date. Yes, the two scenes involving lots of shattering glass could have been done much better, but those are the only significant artistic flaws in the movie. Character design is also a bit of an improvement (my, is Yoko an adorable kid!), although I thought the more mature look given to Armitage and the changes to her costuming didn’t work as well. I also felt that the musical score, which alternates metal-laced numbers with lower-key orchestrated numbers as the mood of a particular scene dictates, is an improvement. It certainly sounds good, but what else would you expect from a soundtrack that was originally recorded in Dolby 5.1 instead of being transferred to it?

      As with the first movie, Dual Matrix is a cyberpunk story which is centered on action but not so much so that ignores character development or emotional complications, such as Yoko’s initial reaction of fear when she sees that Mommy is at least partly artificial and Armitage’s reaction to her daughter’s reaction. It definitely tries to portray the robotic Armitage as being more human than the more villainous humans she interacts with. The writing and storytelling is a bit smoother and less riddled with logical leaps than the original movie, although there are still a couple of points that strain credibility. (An outside lift in the orbital platform tower at such a high altitude?) Again, there is one exception: at one point when Armitage confronts Demetrio, she spout off a line about the ability to reduce that sounded extremely hackneyed, as does Demetrio’s response to it. The one other flaw here is that the final confrontation between Armitage and Ross and her duplicates in the orbital platform tower is allowed to go on a little too long; the movie would have been better had it been about five minutes shorter.

      As with the original, the principle voice work for Dual Matrix appears to have been in English, although this time around a Japanese dub is also included. Also as with the original, a couple of Hollywood actors are brought in: Juliette Lewis picks up the role of Armitage originally voiced by Elizabeth Berkley (and does a better job at it), and Ahmed Best of Jar-Jar Binks fame voices the new character Mouse. That two names recognizable to general American audiences would be called upon to voice anime roles is highly unusual, since English anime voice actors are typically only well-known within the fan community. Keither Sutherland does not return as Ross, but whether that’s a Good Thing or not you’ll have to decide for yourself; he gave a dark, tired tone to the character, whereas the new voice actor gives him a more energetic tone. (Although it could certainly be argued that Ross has been rejuvenated by his new life.) Julian, the only other character carrying over from the original series, is voice by the same actress who did the original role.

      Although I wouldn’t rate Dual Matrix among the top tier of anime films, it is a view that I can recommend, especially if you saw and liked the original.

 

DVD Extras

      Included with the Special Edition DVD is a booklet which gives character profiles, a brief glossary of terms, a Character Relationship chart, and a breakdown of the credits. Extras on the DVD itself include:

·  Company previews

·  Movie teasers

·  5.1 Musical Player – plays choice of three musical numbers from the movie.

·  Character Designs – shown as cel overlays above the base DVD background. I did not care for the format on this.

·  Assembling Armitage – an approx. 17-minute “making of” feature including interviews with the director, music designer, and Juliette Lewis.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Naomi Armitage

Juliette Lewis

Ross Sylibus/Kevin Oldman

Skip Stellrecht

Yoko

Rebecca Forstadt

Demitrio

Michael McConnohie

Mouse

Ahmed A. Best

Julian

Mona Marshall

Colonel Strings

Tom Wyner

Frederick Ohara

Michael Forest

 

 

 

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