Speech Therapy: The Spider Robot Dilemma


Appleseed Alpha entertained me, and I don’t say that often about the subset of CGI movies that I review. It looks beautiful and contains great action, characters who interact with one another like people, characters with fun personalities, interesting designs, awesome music, and of course, unintentionally ridiculous moments. [“The death… They could’ve taken her anywhere! It’s pointless!”] By the end of the movie, when it obviously set up potential for a sequel, I found myself thinking, “You know… I wouldn’t mind that.”

This movie’s great… as long as you don’t think about anything that happens in it. So just for fun, let’s think about what happens in it.

The story follows former soldiers and couple Deunan and Briareos. After World War III’s end, the protagonists find themselves in the service of crime boss and overlord of New York Two Horns. The war left Briareos, a cyborg, weak and in need of frequent recharges, which Two Horns provides in exchange for Deunan’s and Briareos’ services. Despite their wish to leave the ruined city, Two Horns and Briareos’ weakness won’t allow it.

This changes when the protagonists meet Olson and Iris, who have a mission to destroy a powerful weapon left over from the war. Deunan and Briareos save Olson and Iris from automated war-time robots. As payment, Olson finds a defective chip in Briareos that causes his weakness and removes it. Apparently, Briareos’ mechanic implanted it in him on Two Horn’s orders. With his strength restored, Briareos and Deunan decide to accompany Olson and Iris on their mission.

The antagonist, a cyborg named Talos has different plans for the weapon though. Originally given a mission to dispose of left over weapons from the war, Talos decides it would be more effective to control a weapon capable of enforcing the peace and controlling the world, the same weapon that Iris must destroy. Talos kidnaps Iris and kills Olson in order to learn the location of the weapon and control it. Iris is a bioroid, an artificial human, created specifically to destroy the weapon. As such, she has the ability to activate the weapon through its iris scanner.

Talos forces Iris to bring the weapon to life, but not everything goes as planned. Shortly after powering on, the weapon begins an automated sequence to self-destruct in the middle of the New York. Deunan and Briareos catch up to them after discovering Olson’s body and information on where to find the weapon. Deunan and Iris kill Talos and come up with a plan to destroy the weapon with Briareos. Seconds from success though, Iris reveals that she must sacrifice herself in order to keep the weapon’s shields down and give Briareos a shot at destroying its power generator with a sniper rifle.

First of all, why does this weapon have an automated sequence to destroy New York? Iris explains that it’s a weapon programmed for retribution in the event that the country fell to its enemies. Who is this weapon punishing though? The country? “You lost! Loser! That’s what you get!” New Yorkers? Clearly, if we lose World War III, it’s New York’s fault. “Damn liberals ruined the country!” Okay, maybe this weapon is punishing America’s enemies by destroying its crown city… New York. Yeah, how’s that feel Los Angeles? Who cares about you, Washington, DC? “You’ll never take our country’s greatest source of pizza alive!” It’s an ingenious idea, placing a booby-trapped weapon on your own soil. When the enemy discovers it in their new country after the war ends, they’ll unwittingly destroy New York. “Fools! Now we have the last laugh!” I’m sure everyone who lives there currently would willingly die for this trickery.

Second, what causes the weapon’s automated self-destruct sequence to begin in the movie? When Talos discovers that he doesn’t have control of the weapon, we hear the computer stating [“Hull breach verified. Self-defense system protocol initiated.” “No!”]. So when this weapon’s hull is breached, it automatically begins an uninterruptable process to destroy New York. [“What?”] I guess if this weapon’s primary function is retribution, it’d better make sure that it carries it out. You had one job, weapon! Exactly how much damage classifies a hull breach? Before this automated sequence begins, Deunan shoots at a cargo door, so apparently, not very much. A bird could probably fly into a window and begin the automated self-destruct sequence. The weapon was never completed though, which could have caused the computer to identify missing pieces of the hull as a hull breach. This suggests, however, that the people building this robot would destroy New York if they so much as turned it on. The designers must have just really hated New York.

Third, why does Iris have to die? Iris explains to Deunan that she must stay on the weapon to keep its shields down presumably by holding a button or something. So an operator can’t disable the weapon’s self-destruct sequence, but they can disable its shields. It’s a safety feature. In the event that you accidentally sentence New York to destruction, you can disable the weapon’s shields by holding down a button and hope that other people can destroy it in time.

Fourth, why does it have to be a spider robot? This weapon’s primary function appears to be to blow up New York. Why not just bury a bomb in the middle of New York and blow it up when the country loses the war? Why build a giant war machine for the sole purpose of walking a few miles to New York? You could probably put bombs beneath every major city in America for a fraction of the cost of building a massive spider robot that only blows up one. Sure, the robot in the film was incomplete, and if it weren’t, maybe Talos could rampage around the country with it for a while. But the end point is still, for no apparent reason, New York.

Finally… why is Deunan so upset about this? When Deunan and Briareos discover Olson’s dead body, Deunan briefly throws a fit. [“We finish what he started.” “I don’t think I can.” “What?” “It’s too much… The death… They could’ve taken her anywhere! It’s pointless!”] Um… Is death new? Deunan is a former soldier. She murders a number of people in the movie and watches Briareos do the same. She doesn’t have nearly this reaction when Iris dies. She’s angry and hurt, but she doesn’t lay down her weapon and call everything pointless. She didn’t give any indication of giving up when she and Briareos were trapped in the city or fighting enemies in the weapon bunker or chasing after the spider robot. Briareos doesn’t care this much, and he’s been through as much as she has. This level of despair seems out of character for a kind but otherwise tough and stubborn soldier.

So overall, Appleseed Alpha is a fun movie about a girl who has to kill herself to stop a giant spider fortress built only to blow up from destroying an already ruined city. Also, Deunan is a woman. She has feelings. I wonder what the sequel will be like.

Talk at you next time.

[“You’re too late. She’s already dead.” “No, but you are.”]


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