Vexille (Blu-ray) (2007)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 15-Mar-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Secrets of Vexille
Trailer
TV Spots
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 110:54 (Case: 109)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Fumihiko Sori
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Colleen Clinkenbeard
Meisa Kuroki
Shosuke Tanihara
Travis Willingham
Christine M. Auten
Yasuko Matsuyuki
Christopher Sabat
Jason Douglas
Luci Christian
Illich Guardiola
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $34.95 Music Paul Oakenfold
Fumihiko Sori
Toru Hishiyama


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Robotics has come along in leaps and bounds over the course of the 21st century. By the 2060s, feeling that advanced robotics is becoming a threat to humanity, the United Nations votes to restrict further development of robotics. That does not sit well with Japan, who are the world's leader in robotic technology. With the help of the powerful Daiwa corporation, Japan cuts itself off from the world. Trade is restricted. Foreigners are banned from entering. Nationals banned from leaving. Within months Japan has erected an electronic barrier around the country that prevents incoming and outgoing communication, and obscures the entire country from radar and satellite imagery.

    Ten years after this isolation, fearful that Japan are trying to influence and infiltrate the ranks of government throughout the rest of the world, the UN sends a team from its SWORD specialist unit to infiltrate the country and bring down the curtain that surrounds the nation. After the initial infiltration is detected, that mission falls down to one remaining soldier, Vexille.

    Vexille is case of flashy animation and cool looking robots being used to sell what is really a heavy-handed drama that ruminates on Japan's unusual foreign relations over the course of the 19th and 20th century, particularly Sakoku (commonly referred to the seclusion policy - essentially a death penalty for immigration and emigration that applied up until the latter part of the 19th century) and Japan's national guilt that followed the second world war. Of course these ruminations are dressed up with all manner of cool sci-fi, some quite original and some blatantly pinched from elsewhere (most notably Dune's sandworms). Deep stuff for anyone with a reasonable grasp of Japanese history, but guaranteed to be lost on many of the punters drawn in by the very cool robot animation.

    The film gives individual character development a back seat, and focuses on painting the mood of Japanese society as a whole, following their sacrifice of humanity for technology. Like the historical allegory side of things, this works well for anyone that picks up on it but will fall flat for viewers looking solely for action.

    Vexille is probably three star viewing for most people attracted to flashy action sci-fi, four star viewing for snooty history buffs, but five star viewing for the niche market of snooty history buffs that also have a penchant for big robot anime.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p.

    The video is a significant step up from the DVD. The image is clear and sharp. There is no sign of grain in the image and a good level of shadow detail.

    The colour palette is quite diverse, but not as eye-popping as many other animated features on Blu-ray. The cel-shading style employed for most objects produces stylish colour block and looks quite good, however colour banding is quite apparent in objects and backgrounds that feature a substantial gradient in the colouring.

    There is no sign of aliasing or pixelation in the video.

    The film features optional English subtitles, which are translated directly from the Japanese and do not match up to the English dialogue. These subtitles are quite easy to follow and are well timed to the dialogue

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The film features English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks.

    The audio is of a fair standard, but is far from the clearest HD audio you will come across. The dialogue is clearly audible at all times and reasonably well synchronised to the video, although the lip movements were obviously not designed for the English dub.

    The English dub is pretty decent, and manages to capture most of the meaning of the original Japanese dialogue.

    The film features a score mixed together by UK house/trance DJ Paul Oakenfold. Like much of Oakenfold's mixes this one is catchy and fits the energy of the film well, but is very repetitive as it manages to make all manner of different source tracks/elements sound exactly the same.

    The surround mix is quite good, making excellent use of the surrounds during action sequences and reasonable use otherwise. The subwoofer could do with a bit more subtlety, however.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The disc opens with a forced trailer for a Dragonball Z Blu-ray before reaching a fairly stylish animated menu. The extras are all presented in overly compressed, pixelly, PAL Standard Definition.

Making Of Featurettes (115:05)

    A long, somewhat overwhelming collection on "Making of" segments, focusing on aspects of production from the animation to the voice acting, music and just about any other topic that pops in the head of director Fumihiko Sori.

Secrets of Vexille Featurette (50:28)

    In what looks like a case of "let's just dump this other featurette we have lying around on the disc", this is essentially another "Making of" featurette, largely cut from the same source materials (interviews etc) as the main "making of" featurette, but a little more focused on the story and its underlying themes.

Trailers and TV spots (3:31)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This one is a winner for the Australian Region B. The US Region 1 edition misses out on the Secrets of Vexille featurette, which appears to have been inherited from the Australian DVD release, but is otherwise identical to the Australian Region B release.

Summary

    A pensive macro-drama dressed up as a mecha-anime. Vexille is a great movie, but one that struggles to find the right audience thanks to the window dressing.

    The video quality is good, though far from reference. Likewise, the audio is a little uninspired but decent enough. The extras are overwhelming, and will really appeal to fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, May 14, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE