Armitage III: Poly Matrix (1997)
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as Ross Sylibus
as Lt. Larry Randolph
as Kelly's Manager
as Jessica Manning
Critic Reviews for Armitage III: Poly Matrix
Audience Reviews for Armitage III: Poly Matrix
Armitage III: Poly-Matrix Starring (voice actors): Keifer Sutherland and Elizabeth Berkley In 2179, police detective Ross Sylibus (Sutherland) and his new partner Naomi Armitage (Berkley) are assigned to solve the brutal murders of citizens... all of whom were revealed to be highly advanced robots that had been living undetected among the populace. When Naomi is revealed to also be a robot--a fact that even she herself was unaware--solving the mystery becomes even more urgent, as not only is Naomi a target, but she wants to know how and why she came to be. "Armitage III: Poly-Matrix" is a movie version of a four-part animated TV series that was produced exclusively for English-speaking audiences. Both the original series and the movie version are true classics in the cyberpunk genre, and they are worth seeing whether you're an anime or sci-fi fan. The film features a fast-paced storyline about robots impersonating human beings but at its heart explores the question of what truly defines humanity. However, if one isn't interested in weighty issues, there's plenty of action to distract you. "Armitage III" has it all--beautiful animation, interesting plots and sub-plots, intriguing themes, and engaging characters, in addition to giant robots, gunfights, and romance. -- ("Armitage III" also has a companion website created by yours truly. It covers the original series, the feature film being reviewed here, and the sequel, "Armitage III: Dual-Matrix", with detailed write-ups of all the primary characters; descriptions of the setting and technology in the fillms; plot summaries and detailed story analyses; and plenty of production and promotional art to feast your eyes upon. The pages also feature roleplaying game statistics usable for "Big Eyes,Small Mouth Second Edition". [URL=http://www.geocities.com/nuelow/armitageentry.html]Click here[/URL] to learn more about the Armitage world than you thought possible! (The material was intended for a sourcebook that was cancelled just before publication.)
Re-edited from a 140-minute, four-part OVA (Original Video Animation, essentially a straight-to-video series) into a 90-minute feature film, [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i], is a violent, convoluted, messy cyberpunk animé that betrays its derivative nature from the opening scene, a wild shootout in a Martian airport. Even casual science fiction fans will notice the story elements lifted from [i]Blade Runner[/i], [i]Total Recall[/i], and [i]Ghost in the Shell[/i]. Originality is in short supply here. Directed by Takuya Sato from a script by Chiaki Konaka takes too long to introduce the audience to the central conflict or mystery and falters by opting for an unsatisfying guns, explosions, and destruction-filled finale, which inevitably feels overly familiar and routine. [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] opens as an interplanetary transport ship makes its final approach into a Martian airport. Aboard the transport ship is Ross Sylibus (voiced by Keifer Sutherland), a police detective transferred to Mars (for an unspecified reason). Within moments, Ross is caught in a running gun battle. He’s more witness than participant, since he’s unarmed. Luckily, his new fetish-wearing partner, Naomi Armitage (Elizabeth Berkeley), is on hand to handle the thugs. One blond-haired thug manages to escape, however, but leaves behind an oversized suitcase. Ross and Naomi make a gruesome discovery: the body of a famous country-western singer. To both their surprise, the dead singer is a cyborg. She is, in fact, a third, a third-generation cyborg. Thirds can have emotional lives, but just as importantly, are capable of creating art. They can, of course, blend into the human population. There’s just one problem: thirds are illegal on Mars. The singer’s death, however, is the first of several, as the blond-haired killer, D'Anclaude, simultaneously targets other thirds and attempts to incite mob violence against them. Ross and Naomi must, of course, stop D'Anclaude, but their investigation inevitably leads to a conspiracy-laden plot, possibly involving the absent head of a research team that built the thirds and government officials with a hidden agenda involving the thirds and the future of Mars. Along the way to uncovering the identities of the power brokers behind the organized destruction of the thirds, Ross and Naomi have a lot of ground to cover, which results in multiple firefights, including a spectacular confrontation outside a research lab involving acrobatic gunplay and massive destruction of government property. D'Anclaude continues to reappear intermittently, taunting Ross and Naomi with his plans and proving himself nearly indestructible in [i]Terminator[/i]-like fashion. The finale confrontation occurs in a parched, desert setting, with Ross strapped into a [i]mecha[/i] suit and Naomi suitably armed with firepower and enhancements of her own (which suggests another, more local, influence, Yukito Kishiro’s [i]Battle Angel Alita[/i]), standing alone against a robot army. Not surprisingly, Naomi isn’t who she appears to be, and Ross’ last case on earth has a tangential relationship, if not to the case at hand, then to his conflicted feelings for and against androids. Ross’ conflicted feelings, of course, will be resolved (that’s essentially the extent of Ross’ character arc). Takuya Sato and Chiaki Konaka keep the pacing relatively tight, doling out bits of much-needed exposition during breaks from the action scenes, while also giving Naomi’s character space to ruminate superficially about the nature of identity (an issue handled with more delicacy and insight in Mamoru Oshî's [i]Ghost in the Shell[/i]). The obvious lack of originality, predictable plotting, and a villain dispatched too early in the film makes [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] a difficult animé to recommend. The animation, while above average for OVAs, will likely disappoint audiences expecting theatrical-level quality (they won’t get it). The character designs closely follow animé standards, with the female characters relegated to round-faced, large-eyed, slim-hipped designs. Ross Sylibus surprisingly resembles the late American actor Rock Hudson. Some of the animation lacks detail, but Sato and his animators excel in creating [i]Blade Runner[/i]-like cityscapes. Watching the unedited, four-part OVA may fill in some of the story and logic gaps, but it’s unlikely to resolve all, or even most, of them. Ultimately, [i]Armitage III: Poly-Matrix[/i] is strictly for animé/cyberpunk fans.
Their treatment of a Martian colony was surprisingly in line with what I would expect. Granted, it wasn't all _science_ fiction, but it was pretty close. The interesting thing about this movie though, is the question it poses about what constitutes sentience, or life. There are androids walking around that would pass a Turing test with ease, are they alive? Do they have rights? Unfortunately, it's like they wen't over budget on a fight scene which had nothing to do with the actual plot, and forgot the more interesting philisophical questions.
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