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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Edition No 916 
Reckoning

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METROPOLIS

SYNOPSIS:
Metropolis is a grand city state sometime in the future, where humans and robots live in a segmented society. Anti robot factions are stirring. Japanese detective Shunsaku Ben and his assistant Kenichi (Kei Kobayashi) are searching for rebel scientist Dr Laughton (Junpei Takeguchi), to stop him and his latest creation, Tima (Yuka Imoto), a beautiful young girl on the outside, but robot inside. But Laughton is protected by a powerful man and the fate of Metropolis is in the balance.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This extraordinary film is an epic of anime, a fable about the failures of technology, the weaknesses and powers of human nature and the ever present danger from ego, greed and selfishness. But what is really remarkable is the power of the images through which the slightly clumsy moral messages are sent, and the fusion of animation styles - plus a totally unexpected soundtrack, which at times is really jolting. The dialogue is its weakspot (this is the subtitled version, not the dubbed) but even so, Metropolis is a profoundly exciting movie experience. The opening scene is reminiscent of the 1927 film of the same name, and in fact that classic film's shadow hangs over the whole work - but only as a shadow. True, this Metropolis is derivative on some levels, and there are animation styles that remind us of the faces from Tin Tin, Belgium's favourite comic-to-animation character, for example. There are also wild fluctuations in tone, from the dark images of a fatalist, noir film to the exuberance of saturated colours in the sleazier parts of the city. The street and billboard signs are in English, and the whole setting is somehow Manhattenised, although it's not as precise as that. All the frames are complex and full, and some of the CGI work is awe inspiring. The period is sometime in the future, but the ambiance is also somewhere in the past; the big orchestral score is only part of the soundtrack, which lurches into trad jazz immediately after the apocalyptic opening statement by a mystic figure atop a skyscraper. At one point, Ray Charles pipes in with I Can't Stop Loving You - and it's the least expected juxtaposition. Elsewhere, that great blues classic, St James Infirmary, gets an airing. If your palate is jaded with Hollywood or depleted by European fare, Metropolis will refresh it with vigour.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Wow. Japanese animation reaches new heights (if that's possible considering what we've already seen) with this superb adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's 1949 manga (comic book). With a nod to Fritz Lang's 1926 masterpiece for some basic elements, Osamu's vision of a world gone wild is majestically realised by director Rintaro (Osuma's apprentice on the Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion series) and screenwriter Katsuhiro Otomo, who directed the first manga breakthrough film, Akira, in 1988. The imagery of Metropolis is stunning; the detail extraordinary. The only live-action reference point for the design
is perhaps Dark City; a similar place where the grimy feel of 40s diners rubbed up against awesome, architecturally imposing products of scientific advancement. But no comparison does justice to a film that inspires wonder at its depiction of a fascist superstate and asks moral and scientific questions similar to those in Spielberg's A.I., only with much more flair and feeling. The de-humanising effects of technology and the potential of machines to feel and express love are given a dynamic workout in a film that wants us to stop and think about whether Metropolis is the kind of place we'd ever want to live. If anything the plot is a little too complex and convoluted to begin with but once you work out who everyone is and what they want, Metropolis really takes off. Punctuated by an inspired choice of dixie jazz on the soundtrack and presented in its original Japanese language with English subtitles (hooray, no awful American voice track), Metropolis also boasts the most audacious and blindingly brilliant use of Ray Charles' sappy 1958 ballad I Can't Stop Loving You that you'll ever see. Japanime still isn't as widely accepted on the Australian big screen as it deserves to be. Metropolis is worthy of being the film to help change that.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

METROPOLIS (M)
(Jap)

VOICES: Yuka Imoto, Kei Kobayashi, Kouki Okada, Jamieson Price, Junpei Takeguchi

PRODUCER: Metropolis Committee

DIRECTOR: Rintaro

SCRIPT: Katsuhiro Otomo (based on the comic by Osamu Tezuka)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: not credited

EDITOR: not credited

MUSIC: Toshiyuki Honda

PRODUCTION DESIGN: not credited

OTHER:
CHARACTER DESIGN: Katsuhiro Otomo
ART DIRECTOR: Shuichi Hirata

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney - June 27, 2002; Melbourne - March 31, 2002; other states to follow

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: October 16, 2002







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