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on 22 May 2006
An absolutely stunning animated film which relies heavily on its story rather than its animation. The animation is computer generated, but it was inspired by Croatian stop frame animation. This gives it a unique feel when compared to something done by Pixar. I quite frankly believe that it is better for it. The clunky movements and the lack of lighting adds to image of a decaying world in which humans (the creators) no longer exist, all that is left is mankind's legacy of a dark world inhabited by needless cleaning droids and robotic prostitutes called 'dolls' who with the humans gone have no clients. The plot follows a circular narrative starting with a doll (Malice) who is wishing to become human so that she can feel human emotion, but once she becomes human and passes her gift of life to others through a kiss, she wishes to become robot again as the darker side of our existence is exposed. The gift of life is rather like Pandora's box, once opened evils such as hate, envy, murder and rape are unleashed, but somewhere beneath all the corruption lies hope.

Directed by the gifted Keitaro Motonaga malice@doll serves to paint a bleak picture of humanity, focusing mainly on our greed, jealousy, laziness, and our unquenchable thirst for sexual gratification. It seeks to explore the self which exists deep down inside us, not the mask that we live behind in our day to day lives. But, the real self that exists behind closed doors and holds our worst desires that infest our subconscious, and inturn pollute our very soul, creating our deepest inner conspiracies and contradictions.

Malice@doll is quite frankly an excellent film and it will stay with you. It does require a huge effort from the audience in order to understand everything, being well read in cross-cultural representations of the monstrous feminine will help. But, even if you aren't, give it a go as it is very unique and you probably will never see anything else like it.
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Malice @ Doll is set in a future society where mankind has managed to wipe itself out, leaving behind the mechanical beings who existed to serve. Without clients to service, the robot prostitute `dolls' in a large brothel are starting to slowly break down and experience spurious mutations of their programming. Essentially trapped in the building as the security robot now kills anything it sees as it patrols the corridors, one of the dolls, Malice, has something of an epiphany when she finds herself waking up human.

Feeling emotion and getting used to the warmth of her new body, Malice discovers that by kissing her fellow robotic housemates she is able to bring them to life too. But this isn't the start of a new Eden, the transformation isn't always a successful one.

The film is completely CGI and the artwork doesn't compare that well to more recent CGI features - however it certainly isn't poor and doesn't deserve the criticism I've seen. It is jerky and at times you can tell that sequences are being repeated in a loop, but it has a distinctive look and the visual scope is ambitious with monster-esque robots and a strangely gothic feel. The DVD transfer itself is poor - the conversion struggles with the unclean source material and there is plenty of noise and evidence of compression. This doesn't ruin the film but it does distract at times. There's no dub on the disk, which doesn't bother me as I prefer the original soundtrack - but you get the impression that the subtitles have been rushed. The DVD offers the film in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

This is an 18 certificate film, but those expecting to see a generous amount of sexual content should look elsewhere. Other than a classic Japanese `tentacle scene', the film concentrates more on the sexuality of mankind rather than the actual sex. The DVD box with "uncut" prominently displayed is an attempt to sell this as something it is not, it's a dark fairytale - not hentai. The story itself is often confusing and risks become boring at some stages, it's a film which benefits from a second viewing - you appreciate it more once you know the overall story and aren't trying to piece everything together. It's only slightly subversive cinema, at times it is quite touching and there's a suggestion that the Dolls are capable of emotion and ambition before they truly come alive, a startling thought when you consider that these poor beings were used simply as tools to satisfy the desire of their creators.

In a nutshell: A surreal film worthy of a watch but it's not going to be considered a classic. The themes and overall concept promise so much but they aren't explored as well as they could.
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A visually stunning and curiously unsettling fable, which touches on many classic cyberpunk themes. Do machines (in this case robot whores) have feelings and souls? Can they yearn to be human? When their wish is granted (through, it has to be said, a rather oblique and unsatisfactory plot development) will it be a blessing or a curse? Malice@Doll will ring faint echoes of everything from Akira to Blade Runner, but its stylish full 3D CG animation is brilliantly implemented and the overall effect is quite simply unique. Think of a feverish blend of Hieronymus Bosch and Dali and you'll have some idea of the striking grotesquery of the images, which switch from beautiful to nightmarishly hideous with disturbing suddenness.

The plot drags a bit at times and is too enigmatic for its own good at others. The English subtitles seem a bit stilted too. But Malice@Doll IS undeniably striking and will stand up to several viewings in order to attempt to get your head around the director's troubled mind!

Whilst only a couple of sexual scenes - in hazy flashback mode, tip it into the realms of a genuine 18-rated anime, the overall effect is a genuinely disturbing one and is likely to stay with you for a long time.
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on 6 June 2010
Have to say I was expecting rather more of this film. Some of the write-ups around the net describe it as 'disturbing'. A tad twisted and fetishistic, but not especially disturbing unless your normal diet is Disney. The creators cite Czech puppet animation as an influence; presumably they mean the likes of Jan Svankmajer, whose highly original surrealistic films are well worth checking out. Fans of the Quay Brothers may also find 'Malice@Doll' to their taste, though it lacks the extraordinarily refined detail and subtlety of the Quay's work. Having said that, 'Malice@Doll' does come up with some strikingly weird compositions which had me thinking of surrealist artists like Max Ernst and Hans Bellmer, as well as the erotic art of the Belgian symbolist Felicien Rops. Full marks (but not five stars) to the creators for attempting to come up with an anime that is decidedly different. The plot is plodding to say the least, and the characterisation wafer thin, but the visuals were kinky and quirky enough to keep me watching. Secondhand copies are dirt cheap, so it's definitely worth snapping up.
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on 1 November 2012
I bought this film only today and me and my boyfriend sat down and watched it and surprisingly enough it was pretty good (it was a blind purchase) It's the story about a Prostitute doll called Malice who is sick of doing the same thing everyday till then her body starts to break down and so she goes in search of being repaired but instead she is turned into a human and thinking it's great but then everything starts to turn weird from then on. As an Otaku I would give this film a 5/5 considering the characters were well developed and it's done in a fantastic Anime style CGI the only downside is the storyline it is confusing and it will toggle your mind so I recommend if you don't get the story the first time just re watch it just so you can understand it. I recommend Malice@Doll to any Anime lover or Otaku it's one of those films you must see if you like disturbing art style
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on 25 February 2005
Not even the title makes any sense, it should be 'Malice, A Doll', yet reads 'Malice At Doll'. But then again, that makes about as much sense as the movie itself, what with prostitute dolls becoming human and all.
These Japanese Anime films are certainly an acquired taste and there are far better ones than this.
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