Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Metropolis (2001)


While seeking out a doctor on the run from the law, Kenichi and his private detective uncle stumble across Tima, a part child- part robot hybrid who may very well be the key to an end of world device created by the ever popular Duke Red.

When you go into anime there's always one thing that seems to stand out: visuals. Here that is no different. The sheer amazement with which was put into the design of the city at the heart of Metropolis is worth the price of a rental alone. The detail, and creativity, are so amazing I was literally taken aback upon hitting the play button. Yet at stark contrast I have to stay the detail to the city was not applied so well to the characters, each with a more old school cartoon flair (perfectly circle heads, over pronounced noses, etc.). As a consequence this took me a while to buy into the characters, leaving me to spend much of the time concentrating on the sheer breadth to the world surrounding them.

As a narrative I find many similarities between this and the 80's classic, Akira. The plot unfolds as the characters progress (or regress), and it runs at a light-speed pace through the story-line. As well the movie relies on you applying your own mental strengths to fill in the blanks as it doesn't walk you through each concurrent storyline. This has the upside that it gets your mentally engage, but the downside that they include characters and storylines that really serve no purpose to the greater plot. Sure it's entertaining, but it leaves the rest of the story far more confusing than it really needed to be.

The original story was inspired by the 1927 classic silent film Metropolis, but only through the poster, while the story is inherently its own creation. As well the plot is riddled with plot points you'll find scattered throughout the history of science fiction and anime. So in and of itself Metropolis is easier to get more out of the more familiar with those genres you are. Still I couldn't help but constantly feel a void between the film and the audience. As if the director was so concerned with letting the audience in on the films secrets that he forgot to let the audience in on the characters. We get a few subtle hints, and moments, that layout their greater life troubles, but we are really told very little, and as such the movie struggles to make the audience truly care (in sharp contrast with Akira which spends much of its time on the characters). Still the animation truly saves this film's narrative woes, making it passable, but not nearly reaching the potential it had.

While it has absolutely amazing visuals, Metropolis suffers from a far too weighed down plot, that will only pass with those who truly get absorbed in its unique world.

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