Judge Mitchell Hattaway loved this movie, but he kept getting the feeling that there should be a monkey stowed away in someone's trunk.
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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