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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.24%
Average: 12.24%
Pretty Bad: 2.04%
Total Crap: 12.24%

3 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis
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by Jay Seaver

5 stars

There are a great many good movies made every year. There aren't quite so many great ones, but they've accumulated, so there are great movies to be seen on a regular basis. Enough that I don't always remember the initial impression a masterpiece. I remember exactly what went through my mind as I walked out of the Kendall Square theater on 2 February 2002: "I want to see this again. RIGHT NOW."

Putting the DVD in the player a few years later, I initially find that my excitement has waned a bit. The opening is still majestic, and Toshiyuki Honda's score is still jazzy and fun. That soundtrack has been in whichever CD player I'm near ever since the film's US release, because it's so incongruous: We've grown to expect science fiction to be scored with a symphony, or something electronic, but instead the Metropolis Committee hired a jazz sax player, and he creates a group of themes that are flexible enough to show the bustle of a vibrant city, a foreboding of danger, and hope after disaster. But, somehow, since the last time I saw it, I lost my affinity the Tezuka-styled character designs. I maybe giggled a little at the movie's attempts at profundity.

But after a while, that cynicism wears off. Screenwriter Katsuhiro Otomo (famous in his own right for Akira packs the movie full of story, suggesting that what's happening is the culmination of much more, and making our view of a detailed fantasy world comprehensible without sacrificing its complexity. Director Rintaro does one of the best-ever jobs of integrating cel and CGI animation, and that's no simple task; in adapting one of Osamu Tezuka's early works (in an interview on the DVD, Rintaro and Otomo admit that they'd wanted to make Metropolis for years but Tezuka nixed it while he was alive), the cel-animated characters retain their cartoonish style while many of the environments are highly-detailed, built to awe.

The story is what you make of it - Ban, a detective, and his nephew Kenichi arrive from Tokyo hunting for Laughton, a mad scientist. Little do they know that this scientist is in the employ of Duke Red, the city's foremost citizen and architect of its gleaming new Zigguraut, who has a contentious relation with Rock, a robot-hunter who thinks of Red as his foster father. The lab is destroyed, Ban and Kenichi are separated, and Kenichi finds himself in the company of Tima, an android built by Laughton for Red, with both initially unaware that Tima is anything other than a human girl. As Ban and Kenichi try to re-unite, they find themselves in the midst of a battle for control of the city. And then...

And then, Ray Charles. Ray Charles shows up on the soundtrack in a moment of musical audacity that must be seen and heard to be believed, but as much as the song ("I Can't Stop Loving You") seems to contradict what's happening on screen, it cuts right to the heart of the movie: A boy who loves a robot even as its human exterior and heart is stripped away, a son who loves the father who won't acknowledge him, and a man obsessed with his lost daughter to the point of recreating her. It's an action scene built to make the audience cry.

And it does. By the end of the movie, I want to see it again, because it's just that fantastic, no matter what foolish doubts I'd had an hour and a half earlier.

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originally posted: 12/31/04 16:25:52
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User Comments

1/12/09 Stephen This movie was intresting and nicely animated plot line a little strange, but sound movie. 4 stars
7/10/07 Jubei That ending!..It screams "classic". 5 stars
1/26/06 the laughing man brilliant 5 stars
1/02/06 Wiseman It took 5 years to make this movie, I gotta say they did one hell of a job! 5 stars
11/21/04 anthony gunnell totally utter shit 1 stars
8/10/04 Largo This movie is so awesome! I loved it so much I have seen it like five times! 5 stars
12/09/03 Rob You suck, Greg Muskewitz. You only hated the film because there was no sex in it. 4 stars
7/04/03 Jim Reminded me of one of the better Final Fantasy Playstation games. 4 stars
4/03/03 Loyd You are blind, There is blood in the movie. You don't know how to recognise a masterpiece. 5 stars
10/14/02 the golden man words cannot describe the feeling 5 stars
9/15/02 y2mckay Great backdrops, but LAME looking characters. fell asleep in it, no nudity or blood. 2 stars
8/30/02 dion I wish i had watched it in japanese!! 4 stars
8/28/02 viking Light years ahead of Final Fantasy and Titan AE 5 stars
8/04/02 Grant S Anyone who has seen this film and rates it as being "total crap" is a complete fool. 5 stars
7/26/02 Cannibus Mesmerizing visuals. 5 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 Made me play "I Can't Stop Loving You" over and over again. 5 stars
5/10/02 Jennifer I feel so dirty. 1 stars
5/10/02 sarah If I liked really sucky movies, I'd love Metropolis. Horrid! 1 stars
5/10/02 sarah If I liked really sucky movies, I'd love Metropolis. "Total Crap 1 stars
4/26/02 Emery Calame Simple, elegant, brilliant. This is an epic that exceeds even the work of Miyazaki. 5 stars
4/22/02 Brandman This movie takes an awesome visual style and pairs it with a good (although cleched) story. 4 stars
4/22/02 lynn good animation...a little too much cg though...soundtrack is downright fantastic 5 stars
4/10/02 BMF Classic art style belies the incredible story, animation, and direction of this film. 5 stars
4/04/02 Frank Solowczuk Brilliant in every sense. Truly a refreshing piece of film making. 5 stars
3/07/02 ZenMasterFlash Just plain fantastic. Pure cinematic delight. Loved the music. 5 stars
3/06/02 Flix Interesting Story, great soundtrack and awesome visual 5 stars
2/22/02 yongi a great ugly bag of anime cliches with no soul or meaning. I want my Wednesday night back! 1 stars
2/22/02 Tone-Def Snore.... 1 stars
2/05/02 asdfk; Chock full of premium content; Worth seeing on the large screen 5 stars
2/05/02 gwalla Interesting story, great visuals, a bit long. More serious than the art style would suggest 4 stars
12/29/01 BH This is going to be a very hard one to beat... 5 stars
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  25-Jan-2002 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Rin Taro

Written by
  Katsuhiro Ôtomo


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