DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Malice@Doll
Malice@Doll
Artsmagic DVD // Unrated // July 27, 2004
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted October 26, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

The Movie

Currently snuggled in at #13 in my list of favorite movies of all time is David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, and I will argue in favor of that particular film's brilliance until the end of time. But in any discussion of the film's merits and the reasons for its inclusion on a list as respected and erudite as my own, the following argument is a statistical inevitability: "What?!That movie was bullcrap. The only reason the pseudo-intellectual elite proclaim it to be genius is because they don't understand it, and Lynch is laughing at them all the way to the bank. I mean, it's no Pirates of the Caribbean!"

For sure. Still, that particular line of reason fascinates me for endless reasons, not the least of which being attributed to the fact that MD is probably Lynch's most accessible film since Blue Velvet. But that is a cosmic haiku for another eon, and in the meantime we probably want to know what the hell this has to do with Malice@Doll, a gloriously weird anime from the minds of writer Chiaki Konaka and director Keitarou Motonaga.

Malice@Doll deals with the story of Malice, a robot apparently programmed for sexual activity. Somehow all of the humans are gone from her futuristic world, yet she still seems to be functional and looking for clientele. When visiting a repair droid for her usual servicing, she is instead accosted by an unfamiliar robot, which systematically molests her with tentacles and metallic tendrils. She awakens, only to find herself fully humanoid and organic, liberated from her motorized shell. Like some post-modern pre-op Pinocchio, she has discovered that with her kiss she can transmute other robots into full-formed humanoid beings. They call the kiss "love", a transmittable disease which alters the flesh into a new state, their being re-registered in quanta. Malice's kiss, seemingly a gift, is a Pandora's Box which introduces pain, death, and despair into the cybernetic personae. What seems like beauty is accursed, and Malice attempts at reversion result in an ending both obtuse and circuitous.

Malice@Doll is a many times a painfully obvious metaphor and meditation on lust, misplaced love, youthful indiscretion, dreams and their reflection/redirection of reality, AIDS, sexual confusion and gender identity. One could even make the case that the entire film is a PSA stressing the importance and necessity of sexual education. The robots are childlike, innocent, confused, and unaware of there ever-morphing essences, immersing themselves in playful abandon within the beauty of the "kiss", blissfully ignorant of its lethal nature on their forms.

There wasn't a scintilla of emotional connection between myself and this 110-minute surrealistic sci-fi feast of bright colors, oily, grimy corridors, robotic tentacles and copious amounts of sexy robot do-goodery. That's not to say that I didn't gleam a few themes and a general vibe every here and there, and, for the most part, I liked Malice@Doll. In fact, I found it to be an ambitious and compelling piece of visionary filmmaking. Compared to the tedious and overwrought Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Malice@Doll is practically a masterpiece. I marveled at the CG animation, how it approximated the herky-jery rhythms of stop-motion animation to give the film an even greater sense of veracity. It's not the smooth, streamlined CGI you've seen in dozens of big-budget features in the past. This is raw, visceral, and immediate, hearkening to the great European animation of the 60s and 70s. The story itself is the film's weakest element; while it starts strong and engagingly, it devolves into a melange of bizarre imagery, plot obfuscations, and emotional expressions that dally in Dali and paint themselves into an abstract portait which... well, quite frankly, I just didn't get. Malice@Doll is geared towards an audience that will return and revisit this tale many times, combing for clues and digging for a deeper meaning.

The DVD

Video:

Malice@Doll is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The resulting video transfer is quite pleasing and rather vibrant and engaging. Colors are eye-poppingly vibrant, with bright pinks, deep reds and blues, and deep blacks. Contrasts are spot-on, demonstrating excellent range and depth. Grain structure is evenly delineated throughout the transfer. Image detail is the only real weak point. While the picture isn't overly soft, it's not quite as sharp as it should be. Nonetheless, this is a fine looking transfer.

Audio:

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, in both the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub. The English dub sounds slightly superior to the Japanese track, but overall both sound more than acceptable (although if you're listening to anything other than the OSL, you deserve to be hung by your feet and forced to watch Simon West movies until Ramadan.) Surrounds, while not explicitly discrete, are used engagingly and appropriately, while there is noticeable separation in the front stage, adequate and effective use of LFE, and bright, clear dialog reproduction.

Extras:

A twenty-six minute Interview with the Creators is the heart of the supplemental material, featuring director Keitaro Motonaga and writer Chiaka J Konaka. They discuss their visual and storytelling approach to the film, and their attempts to recreate puppetry in a digital world. The interview is lively and edited like a Michael Bay music video, but there's some nice material to be discovered here. There is also a thirty-minute segment entitled Final Fantasies, which features Jonathan Clements, co-author of the Anime Encyclopedia, as he leads a discussion about digital animation. It's a fascinating feature that is well worth your time, even if you only have a passing interest in the subject.

The special features on this disc also include several text page Bio/Filmographiesfor the crew (character designer Shinobu Nishioka, creature designer Yasu Morki, director Keitaro Motonaga, and screenwriter Chiaka J Konaka), eleven still photographs of various character models used in the film, trailers for Malice@Doll, Alice, and Blue Remains, and four pages of production artwork .

Final Thoughts:

Not an easy film to understand, Malice@Doll remains a worthwhile endeavor. It exists in a fully-realized world of its own, and if by the end the movie is way too ponderous for its own good it remains generally compelling throughout its running time. The DVD itself is a winner, with a fine transfer, solid soundtrack, and respectable array of extras that really complement the film's content. Recommended.

Popular Reviews
1. Eastbound & Down: Season 4
2. Noah
3. Bob's Burgers: Season 3
4. Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
5. Rio 2
6. Marty
7. Brannigan
8. Kid Cannabis
9. Ong Bak Trilogy
10. Born Yesterday


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use