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Assault Girls DVD Review

9 min read


What They Say
In the aftermath of global thermonuclear war, three battle tested women distinctly armed with Assault Rifles and electrifying magic are transported to the virtual world of Avalon F. It’s here these beautiful women known as Assault Girls must test their fighting skills in an epic virtual battle against sand-dwelling monsters known as Sand Whales. As the virtual game begins to unfold, the sparkle of “muzzle flash” begins to fade and assault ships gather overhead. The end is near when suddenly a gigantic super mutation called “Madara Sunakujira” attacks and the battle for survival begins.

The Review:
Audio:
There are two audio options, 2.0 and 5.1, available for the single language track. Assault Girls is a bit of an odd duck as the cast is Japanese but for almost the entirety of the movie they speak English though at one point they do have a conversation in Japanese. For the purpose of the review the 5.1 track was used and it is a very good one with the center speaker being used the most though dialogue and effects are also present in the side speakers which help create a sense of depth to most scenes. The music and effects come across very well and the subwoofer kicks in to help with many parts. The track is solid and no dropouts or distortions were noted during play through. There are some notes further down in the review as to how well the idea of making the film in English worked in practice.

Video:
Originally created in 2009 Assault Girls is presented in all its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen glory. The video has some brilliant use of mostly more earth tone and muted colors but where color is called for it is bright and the blacks are rich and largely solid though there are a few blocking issues at times, mostly related to the lighter colors. There are some issues with the video and while the list seems long much of it likely won’t be that noticeable to those not scrutinizing it. There is a glitch early in the picture (though it is also on the Blu Ray so possible it is a materials issue), noise, dot crawl, some aliasing, a little rainbowing, flashing pixels in the sunset at one point, a bit of motion blur at times, jitters and some text gets lost in a bright white background as compared the BD. It is an above average picture quality but for those who have the capability to go Blu Ray I highly recommend doing so as these issues are mostly, though not all completely, absent there.

Packaging:
The DVD comes in a standard black case and contains no inserts. The cover for the release features the main character, Grey, front and center wearing her game outfit while Lucifer is on the left side of the cover using her energy attack and the Colonel is on the right side wearing her red armor and brandishing her large gun. In the background are a number of different things as well as the last character in the film, as just behind Colonel is the outline of Jäger brandishing his monster gun. The save/AI sphere is present just behind Grey’s head and the background also features one of the giant worms enemies as well as Grey’s flying vehicle and one other game support item that features in the film. The background uses a mostly grey and dark tone coloring reflective of many aspects of the visuals within while the main characters, director and title of the film are in the bottom third of the image written in alternating white then red script for each name/word. The back features an image of the three women as Grey stands in the center, Lucifer dances on the right and Colonel sits on the ground to the left against a blue white background composed of the save/AI orb and some other game control imagery. The copy is just below them in white surrounded by a blue boarder and the specifications and movie credits are listed below that. The spine is a solid black with just the director and title listed again using the white and red motif from the front. The disc itself is black with some black, white and shades in between curved lines around the edges of the disc and the title present on the bottom right side.

Menu:
The main menu uses the image of the three female leads from the front cover in a more close up shot as some grid patterns and simple CG effects play in the background. A small window showing some of the scenes goes from above the Colonel’s head on the top right side of the screen to above Grey’s then folds and appears under Lucifer on the bottom left and again moves toward Grey while the CG in the background also moves a little and an upbeat track from the feature plays. The scene select screen uses the image of Lucifer dancing from the back cover on the right as the small windows representing chapter stops are located on the left of the screen and a static image of the Save/AI sphere is behind her. The audio selection screen uses a static image of Grey similar to, but not exactly the same as the one on the back of the DVD cover with her standing in the middle of the screen and the selectable choices on the right with a similar background to the scene select screen is present. The extras screen uses the image of all three women from the back cover and puts the title in the lower left corner as the trailer is in the upper left. For the menus all options are in boxes with a blue boarder and are highlighted blue when they are the current selection and it changes to yellow when implemented as the chosen selection. Menus are fast to recognize changes in selection and there is minimal wait time when carrying out selections.

Extras:
The only extra present on the release is an original theatrical trailer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Welcome to the future where the great struggle between the free market and controlled economy philosophies has worn humanity out and they now exist in a state of being where stability is paramount. Unfortunately with that stability and the desire to remove competition being the primary philosophy of the day the trade off turned out to be that creativity suffered and society now exists in a state of stagnation. There is an exception to this stagnant society that has been found in a particular game called Avalon (f). In this future videogame technology has advanced to the point that it now has the ability to stimulate the cerebral cortex and put a person into the game in a way that gamers today can only dream of. The game has also allowed people the ability to live their desires in a way that reality would not allow. Of course what the game showed people about humanity’s deepest nature may not be something many want to see.

This world calls to a variety of people who each visit for their own reason, though largely not community oriented ones as the game rewards tend to favor a more individual outlook to things. In this world which is composed of some sweeping, vast and mostly barren landscape those who choose to enter Avalon are provided the opportunity to hunt creatures and be rewarded with points which can then be used to get upgraded weapons or means of transportation across the vast and bleak scenery-though points can also be sold off to others for profit as well. The feature introduces the viewer to four individuals who come to use this world.

The focal character is Grey, a woman who operates as a sniper and uses a jet looking vehicle to get around the desolate expanses. While the world is vast she has butted up again against a player known as Colonel a number of times and it is quickly evident that neither woman likes each other from the verbal jabs they take at the other. The final woman of the group, Lucifer, is perhaps the most mysterious of all when it comes to her motivation as she tends to only communicate in either a form of dance or with a crow’s caw-which is fitting since she choose to have the transform ability to get around and can change into a bird for limited periods of time. The final character that will be introduced is Jäger, a man who has eschewed using points for transport in favor of dropping all his points into his monstrous gun.

Each of the four is in a position where they are at the limit of where they can go level wise without a major point infusion which has lead them to search for the level’s boss Madara. The problem is that each of them is at the same level-a level where on their own they can’t beat the boss and it would take a large amount of time to grind to the next level hunting normal enemies. The four are prodded into a position to consider forming a part with the other three, but is there any trust to be found in a group of individuals who have made it as far as they have by being ruthlessly individualistic?

Assault Girls is a title that is very difficult to review given the decisions writer/director Mamoru Oshii chose to make. The first decision that makes the review difficult is the one where Oshii tried to go for a more universal appeal and have the Japanese actors speak in English for most of the film. While the results of this are boarder line enough with the stilted pronunciation to begin with, when many of the lines are delivered while wearing face masks it turns into a situation where the subtitles are somewhere between convenience and necessary to follow dialogue. Then there is the narrators’ function, which is to spend the first eight minutes of the film trying to set up the philosophy of the feature which his Engrish makes for even more of a task. The film itself has points where large chunks of time are spent contemplatively walking through the wasteland, looking at a snail and even just a long scene of Jäger eating. It is a film with a lot of style but whose substance is left up to the individual reviewer. To that end I found a number of things I liked in the feature about its stark environment and also minimalist approach to dialogue but it really is going to be a picture where what the individual takes out of it depends in no small amount on what it is they bring into it. As with many other Oshii films he seems to be writing what he wants, how he wants to and isn’t terribly worried about if the audience gets it or not.

And one final nitpick, while the movie may take place after a thermonuclear war (if it does it isn’t specified) almost the entire rest of the copy is off in terms of describing the feature and events found within. The movie is far more the next evolution of MMOs than a battle for survival that the text suggests.

In Summary:
Assault Girls is a movie with some absolutely gorgeous CGI and scenery that blends together to create a beautiful though stark world. This may be about the most that everyone who watches the film will agree on as the majority of what one takes out of the feature depends on what one takes in to it in terms of philosophy and how events will be interpreted. Largely this is a picture one should rent first to see if it will work for them and, if possible, the Blu-Ray should be the format of choice as it shows off the picture and sound which are the films strengths in the best fashion.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Original Trailer

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Well Go USA
Release Date: October 19th, 2010
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.

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