Starring (voice): Kaori Shimizu, Mariko Kouda and Chihiro Suzuki
Artsmagic Ltd
RRP 19.99, US $24.95
ATU 010
Certificate: PG (UK)/Not Rated (US)
Available 29 September 2004

When Alice Hayashi, the youngest person ever to go into space crashes her shuttle at the North Pole, she is thrown thirty years into the future. But her trip through time is far from accidental. The world is now ruled with an iron fist by Nero and his supercomputer, the SS10X. And because of a common link between her, Nero and the SS10X, Alice may be the future's only chance for freedom...

A.LI.CE is a futuristic Japanese based CGI movie which, at the time, obviously stretched the existing technology to the limits. This was also director Kenichi Maejima's first venture into the world of CGI animation - and what a trip he takes us on.

This movie has all the hallmarks of a classic Japanese Anime movie. And while, for the majority of its duration, it never patronises the audience, there is one instance that stands out as a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek attack on the whole time travel cliché. There is a scene which asks why somebody didn't just go back in time and destroy Nero before he went on the rampage, one that gives a credible answer. However, that answer brings up another question, which is also asked. But, sadly, that answer is never forthcoming, and the question is neatly swept under the carpet.

Normally, where foreign language movies are concerned, when there is an English language audio track available I always listen to the films original soundtrack and read the English subtitles. This is mainly down to the fact that the acting is usually so poor as to be laughable. However, due to the fact that some of the subtitles on this release just didn't make any sense, I was forced to listen to the English language track. Thankfully the vocal talents on this release are not as bad as I thought they would be. In fact only the actor voicing Nero was poor (and I mean really bad - like they'd just dragged him off the street with no acting ability at all) the other voice actors were fine.

Another problem I had with this release was the fact that the disc swaps layers at the most bizarre point - in the middle of a moving scene and in the middle of a line of dialogue. What should have been an invisible change over, instead slaps you in the face screaming: "The disc has just changed layers!"

Extras include an interview with Director, Kienichi Maejima and Final Fantasies - a history Of CGI animation by Jonathan Clements (which, incidentally has some really appalling lip synching, but is still fairly informative.

Japanese animation fans will need to add this to their collection. The action comes thick and fast, and the plot is so riveting that you'll want to watch this time and time again.

Pete Boomer

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