Geneon // 2002 // 64 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // January 6th, 2005
The squeal of smoking tires, the roar of the engine, and the thrill of a hairpin turn in a power drift.
In the near future, most cars are controlled by Artificial Intelligence. When these AI computers malfunction, it's up to the éX-Drivers, a group of young, racecar driving daredevils, to stop them.
This film is a sequel to the six-episode éX-Driver Original Video Animation (OVA) series. The story here centers around the éX-Driver World Meet, a sort of Indianapolis 500 for éX-Drivers. The members of Team Japan -- Lorna, Souichi, and Lisa -- head to Los Angeles for the big competition; they soon find themselves mixed up in a plot involving gambling, kidnapping, a former mafia boss who now owns a chain of supermarkets, his rebellious daughter, an out of control Humvee, and an LA detective with a penchant for playing grab-ass. Yeah, it's just as goofy as it sounds, but it's also kinda fun; the story's thin, and it's really nothing more than an excuse to throw in a bunch of car chase scenes, but they're really cool (to say nothing of preposterous) car chase scenes.
The cel animation has been augmented by some computer-generated animation (mainly in the vehicles, but also in some buildings and other structures), which is nicely integrated. The anamorphic transfer captures the look of this film perfectly -- it's another stunning Geneon effort. Given the amount of action in the story, this easily could have been another problematic anime transfer, but there's not a defect to be found; putting it as simply as I can, éX-Driver: The Movie is just fun to look at (good thing U.S. Manga Corp. didn't get the distribution rights). Three killer audio options add to the fun; the English and Japanese Dolby Digital tracks are really sweet, and the Japanese DTS track is really freakin' sweet. You get wall-to-wall surround action, rumbling bass, and a very wide, immersive soundstage; the DTS track is one of the best anime soundtracks I've heard.
Extras include the film's theatrical trailers, clean opening/closing animation, and previews for other Geneon titles. The most substantial extra is the Nina & Rei: Danger Zone short film; this short was originally released with the film during its theatrical run, and serves as a prequel to the OVA series. (The short is actually more entertaining than the feature, mainly because it doesn't feel padded). The plot of the short involves a bubblegum-chewing whack-job who is terrorizing the streets with a remote controlled racecar. Nina and Rei, two of the original éX-Drivers, are assigned to stop him; they must also deal with a traitor within their organization. Audio options for the short are identical to those of the feature.
éX-Driver: The Movie is fast, furious fun. (Yeah, I know. I can't believe I said it myself.) If you've got some time to kill, check it out.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 64 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Nina & Rei: Danger Zone Short Film
* Illustration Theater
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* Anime News Network Page
* Official Site