A.li.ce (1999) Movie Review

While the title isn’t exactly original, the premise certainly is. “A.li.ce” is an all-CGI feature and it’s a fairly impressive looking movie that gets points for innovative thinking. While not in the same class as other, more advanced computer animated films, “A.li.ce” is still a worthy effort.

“A.li.ce” opens with a young man named Yuan finding an unconscious girl who was under attack by Stealth Troopers in the Lapland. When she comes to, the girl is confused about the year and the world around her. Her name is Alice, a teen idol that had won a trip to the Moon; when her shuttle crashed, she finds herself thirty years in the future. The planet is now controlled by the dictator Nero and his supercomputer SS10X, and they have already wiped out 7 billion people. With the life she knew far in the past, Alice must acclimate to life in the year 2030 and free the future with the aid of her rescuer and sexy robot SS1X. But can she find it in herself to kill the dictator?

The animation in “A.li.ce” is impressive, with bright colors, good details, and fairly realistic character designs. But while “A.li.ce” is nice to look at, there are still glitches in the animation that needed to be worked out. The whole project has the feel of something you might buy to play on your X Box, and doesn’t match the amazing quality of subsequent works like “Final Fantasy”. Another obvious problem is how Alice is rendered — her eyes are simply too large and tend to be the dominate feature on her face.

The script by Masahiro Yoshimoto, while derivative of previous Hollywood films, nevertheless manages to be entertaining. “A.li.ce” has an economic running time packed with enough diverting action scenes and dramatic revelations to satisfy its full 80 minutes. Even so, the characterizations tend to be erratic and uneven, and Alice is never truly a compelling heroine. While she may seem like a likeable character, she doesn’t strike you as someone who has it in her to save humanity.

Yuan, while likeable, tends to get easily over excited and you wish someone would give him a Xanax prescription. Nero comes across as rather bland and creepy, instead of the evil person you’d expect. They’re both overshadowed by the sexy robot SS1X, whose curvaceous frame handily steals any scene she’s in. The character goes through body changes in the film, each time giving viewers new eye candy to enjoy. Nicoli, the ruthless leader of the Liberation Forces, looks appropriately villainous and menacing, but his character is never developed enough, and as a result he’s never as malevolent as he could have been.

Under the direction of Kenichi Maejima, “A.li.ce” moves fast and makes the most of its brief running time. Maejima is smart enough to know his film isn’t perfect, and distracts the audience from the flaws with a fast pace and nice visuals. His film may not be original, but it’s a quick and scenic ride through borrowed scenarios that entertains despite itself.

“A.li.ce” is not just a curiosity to watch, it’s a fairly enjoyable film saved mostly by some nice animation work, well-crafted visuals, and a brief running time. Anime and science fiction fans would probably be interest in this offering, if just to see how advanced CGI can look in a full-length film with budget constraints.

Kenichi Maejima (director) / Masahiro Yoshimoto (screenplay)

Buy A.li.ce on DVD