Reel News - Metropolis

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Reviewed by Justin Colburn and Keayn Dunya

In the industrial tri-level world of Metropolis, Duke Red is a powerful leader with plans for world domination. To that end he has the worlds most advanced robot built, Tima. Duke Redis violent second-in-command, Rock, distrusts robots and intends to find and destroy Tima. Lost in the confusing labyrinth beneath Metropolis, Tima is beginning a friendship with Kenichi, the young nephew of a Japanese detective sent to bring Timais creator to justice. But when Duke Red separates the two innocents, Timais life n and the fate of the world n is dangerously at stake.


Most anime focuses on one major theme with several smaller themes running through the background. Metropolis is different. Instead of one theme, it focuses on several at once. While this doesnit allow them to explore any one with very much depth, it does give them the opportunity to raise several different questions at once. The problem that this creates is not everyone likes to think about what theyire watching. For me, it was nice to see a movie that expects the viewer to question the characteris motives, as opposed to cramming them down their throat.

Backgrounds in animation and comics are almost always more detailed than the characters, but my first reaction to Metropolisi animation style was that the characters looked too simplistic. More like a Saturday morning cartoon and less like a typical anime. As the movie progressed I noticed that the characters had been animated differently to represent their personalities. Keayn also brought to my attention that the movie not only looked and felt like a 30is sci-fi story, but that the animation for some characters was actually similar to the animation shorts in the 30is.

Metropolis is a movie for people who like to analyze what theyire watching. If you watch it and youire not prepared to think about what youire seeing and hearing, chances are you will not enjoy it. But if youire looking for a movie to sit down and discuss after watching, Metropolis is definitely what youire looking for.


Metropolis is one of those anime that any fan of the genre must watch, and yet you only get out of it what you put into it. Osamu Tezuka originally envisioned the world of Metropolis, a society in which humans use robot in a super-scientific yet corrupt society but it wasnit until later that Shigeyuki Hayashi (know as Rintaro or Tar? Rin) and Katsuhiro 'tomo brought Metropolis to life.

Anyone can see that Metropolis is visually astounding. Every character is cel drawn in stark colors that contrast sharply with the computer generated background. Despite the difference in styles the characters and the background blend together in a way that is unique and visually amazing. The overall feel of the animation is more of the thirties style of sci-fi genre than the oft-overused futuristic setting. The music used throughout the film only heightens this effect. The psuedo jazzy or semi ragtime air helps with its transition. Metropolis brings the viewer back to a time when scientific achievement was anticipated and yet feared.

Lately Iive been drawn to films that challenge my view and are more than just one hundred plus minutes of film. Metropolis is one of those. Metropolis has several levels that interconnect. On one level it is a futuristic retelling of the Tower of Babel, on another is about how man treats man, and that which he creates. And again on another level it is about the various types of love and the power they hold. Throughout the film various topics are brought up as Tima explores humanity and what it is to be alive. Fortunately this is not conveyed in a heavy or preachy manner. Metropolis exists in that space between entertaining and thought provoking. Even the use of "Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles fit the final scenes of Metropolis so well that I found it moving and touching. All movie goers, not just anime lovers, should see this one and explore itsi multiple levels. But read the warning on the box, some thought is required and there is more to everything than meets the eye, if you take the time to look.

Three-and-a-half out of five gears

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