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Overall Rating
4.08

Awesome61.22%
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 Alexander Chancey

"A milestone in animation."
5 stars

The first image in Rintaro's brilliant anime, Metropolis - a grainy, sepia-toned shot of a man standing atop what appears to be an impossibly tall building - is as engrossing an opening as Alex's introduction in A Clockwork Orange or the entire opening credit sequence of Fight Club. And like those films, Metropolis perpetually shows itself up throughout. Based on a 1949 graphic novel by Osamu Tezuka and scripted by Katsuhiro Otomo, writer/director of Akira (a.k.a. the Citizen Kane of Japanese animation), this tale of robots and rebellion, of love and other illogical impulses, is the ultimate cinematic eye candy. It doesn't get any better than this.

Metropolis is not a remake of Fritz Lang's silent sci-fi classic of the same name. It is more like a Hitchcock adaptation: keep the theme and a plot point or two, get rid of everything else. Hitch's films worked better this way, as does Metropolis, which takes place in a retro-future world where zeppelins are as prominent a means of transit as monorails. The people of the unnamed city groove to jazz instead of electronica. And robots are practically as commonplace as humans.

Duke Red - the Old Man Potter of the city - has constructed a skyscraper called the Ziggurat, a technological milestone and, unbeknownst to the city's inhabitants, a device for controlling the world. Red has also commissioned a robot, in the image of his dead daughter, to control the Ziggurat. Red's adopted son, Rock, who has decided that his father should sit at the controls, destroys the lab in which the robot was built. Shunsaku Ban, a private dick, and his nephew Kenichi, rush in to the burning lab and save a mysterious young girl named Tima, who is really the robot. Everybody with me so far?

Tima and Kenichi start to fall in love, neither aware that she is a robot. But Rock, knowing that she has not been destroyed, is on the hunt for her. Meanwhile, Duke Red, who eventually re-captures Tima, is bothered to find that she has become capable of emotion, something that he felt would get in the way of the control of the Ziggurat, hence Tima being built in the first place.

Though its original story was written over 50 years ago, Metropolis bears a resemblance to other science fiction films aside from Lang's film. Shades of Blade Runner, A.I., The Fifth Element, and even Brazil peek in and out. Not to say that it was directly influenced by these films but it shares so many themes with other stories that that it could be considered a perfect collection of archetypal sci-fi (if there is such a thing). Complementing that, the political undertones of the story (Duke Red obviously symbolizing communism) give the film a relevance not intended in these troubled times.

What makes Metropolis stand so much taller than the average anime is that, like Akira, it employs the techniques of live-action filmmaking better than most animated features. The editing and shot schemes perfectly resemble the best of film noir; in fact, it would be better suited for black and white if the colors weren't so mind-bogglingly gorgeous. Toshiyuki Honda's jazz score, which sounds like something out of a Woody Allen flick, works better for the film than any electronic score; at the center of this film lies a beating heart rather than a hard drive and the music reflects that. And someone deserves some kind of award for the choice of Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" that plays during the film's climax, which had me writhing in my seat in pure ecstasy, as it is reminiscent of (not to give away TOO much) the end of Dr. Strangelove.

I could spend an entire paragraph or two just pointing out my favorite scenes and how floored I was by them or how the design of the film is richer than any sci-fi or fantasy film to come out in the last ten years, at least. Or how it has made its way into my top five favorite animated features of all time. But I won't. It wouldn't work. There are no words that can do justice to Metropolis. You'll just have to see for yourself.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5624&reviewer=269
originally posted: 02/05/02 10:33:30
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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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Jan-2002 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-Jun-2002


Directed by
  Rin Taro

Written by
  Katsuhiro Ôtomo

Cast
  N/A



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