Metropolis the anime had big shoes to fill due to its decision to use a name already in use by one of the most stunning and influential films of the silent era. Unfortunately it didn't live up to the name, or the names that came attached to it (Madhouse animation and Akira's writer)
Story - 5/10
The film starts off with two major plot lines, one of Duke Red and his Ziggurat building and the other of detective Shunsake and his search for a mad scientist. Both plots are very thin on backstory and it makes it hard to really follow when the two stories merge about 30 minutes into the movie.
When the stories finally merge they become a bad chase movie, with Duke Red's adopted son, Rock, trying to destroy Tima, a highly advanced robot created for Duke Red to control the weapon hidden in his Ziggurat, and Kenichi, Shunsaku's nephew and assistant. They chase about for a bit, get caught, Duke Red implements his plan, all hell breaks loose and I just saved you about 2 hours.
There is also an uprising of lower level citizens, pushed there due to the lack of work now taken by robots, against the robots. The uprising is the Mayor's attempt at overthrowing Duke Red, the powerful citizen ruler, but it all goes wrong, leaving all those involved in terrible shape and leaving the viewer wondering why this big plot point was ended with little thought and seconds of screen time.
Really the only pleasing part was malfunctioning robot (believe its named Arthur 2?) that helps Kenichi and Tima while they are in the lower levels. He really seems like a character stolen to create Disney's Wall-E, as he's basically the same exact creature but bigger (a garbage collecting robot that goes wrong and starts having human feelings @_@)
The ending leaves you with some head scratching, but I wouldn't expect much else from a film that is more confusing than entertaining.
Animation - 6/10
While watching Metropolis you'd think it was created in the 1980's, the animation is very similar to the time, but well it wasn't, it was made is the late 1990's and released in 2001, and that will make you a bit sad. I'm not sure if the folks drawing it were guys who hadn't adapted to a new style, but it just seems like 80's style trying to draw for the 20's.
One bright spot is the background animation. They put a great art deco design to really give it the 20's feel and the animation of the different surfaces, be it metal or marble, look as if they were real pictures cut into the film. The different feel of each level is also very good, the brightness of the above ground world, the mix of of that and grittiness of the first level, the industrial nature of level two and the dirt and disgust of level three, the sewers.
They also use terrible lens transitions to move time in-between scenes, ones that look very amateur and are looked down upon in the editing world.
Sound - 4/10
They tried to give it a feel of the 1920's, but the music just sounds like they gave an intern a few instruments and he learned two notes on each. The only part that really stood out to me was the use of a Ray Charles song at the end of the film, but all the original music fell flat.
Characters - 5/10
The characters are very poorly developed, we learn almost nothing about each and everyone and then are forced to create our own backstories to why they do certain things. Why does Duke want to destroy the world, why is Red so obsessed with being Duke's only love, what happened to Duke's wife and daughter that he wants to make Tima in her image, and why is Shunsaku trying so hard to find Dr. Laughton (we know why but we never know WHY) Even the city as a whole isn't the best character, we know its in the real world as Shunsaku is from Japan, but we know nothing else.
The characters themselves are fun in their own right, but not great with their connection to the story.
Overall - 5/10
Metropolis was trying to be a futuristic film noir but really got stuck in being too much without the time needed. No character had the time to be anything more than a flash in the pan and the plots of man trying to take over the world, a revolution caused by fear of the unknown and naive boy falling in love just never went anywhere.
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