Metropolis is a movie doing everything wrong. And I am not talking about the production values, which are great by the way. I am referring to the aesthetics, a complete mess of ideas and sceneries that strike a chord in all the wrong places and moments. It could definitely be a fine title, if it was aware of the way it presented itself. It could be great if it was:
1) a series instead of a movie. It has a very heavy on themes story yet only movie-worth of duration to show them. This obviously takes away a lot from what it could have been if more time was invested in each of its numerous aspects.
2) a lot more character-centric instead of story-centric. You are not made to believe that any one of its characters has the tiniest control over their actions. They are more like being pulled through events set in stone they can’t do anything about. There is also very little time invested one each one of them to feel like they are at least trying to do something significant in general. This tends to make the cast unsympathetic and even useless.
3) closer to the expectations of the era it came out. Its art-style is way too retro to appeal to the modern audience. Its themes have also been analyzed much better in older shows and movies to appeal to an older audience.
4) not feeling like a loose remake of the famous homonymous movie from 1927. Those who have seen it will most likely hate how they turned a live action to an animated feature with blobby characters.
So, why they made this movie then? I suspect just for the nostalgia factor. It is based on a manga by the late Osamu Tezuka (inspired by but not based on the homonymous movie classic), so it would feel nice to the people who grew up with his works. It is also a retro-styled movie which will appeal to all those who grew up with cartoons and anime from the 50’s. So as you can tell, it aims at a very narrowed audience, since most of them would by now be either dead or not interested in cartoons for decades. As for the rest who would really sit down to watch it for old times sake, I am not sure they would appreciate how it combined the old style with modern computer generated images.
Thus not even nostalgia will work. You get this obsolete-looking (in style) movie, showing a hundred events, each one not lasting more than a few minutes, and everything feeling like a dried up patchwork of sci-fi ideas you have already seen and analyzed much better elsewhere. How could it possibly work compared to Ghost in the Shell, or Blade Runner? How can these blobs of characters possibly make you feel anything?
And skip all that; let’s just suppose we are to criticize the events of the movie based on context and not proper duration or presentation, and without comparing them to any earlier works of fiction. They still suck in reasoning. Here, let me tell you why.
1) Workers take up arms to drive away the robots who steal their jobs. It’s as if the robots are to blame for everything when in reality it was man himself who created them to be so damn loyal and efficient. So instead of attacking the root of the problem (the people creating them or making money from them) they just randomly attack the symptoms (poor robots just doing what they were told). And even if that is supposed to be showing the folly of man, as he directs his frustration towards the wrong issues, it still makes no sense as these workers end up being eliminated by said robots. This renders all this aspect of the movie as completely useless, since not only they attacked the wrong people (or in this case, robots), they also didn’t manage to accomplish anything.
2) A detective and his nephew come to the city to investigate a case. Trust me when I say they didn’t do much of an investigation, as the robot girl was found by complete accident and the man responsible simply revealed himself. Another useless part of the film.
3) The big boss of the city wants to create a robot that will apathetically control all other machines of the world, and for that he asks to resemble a dead girl with feelings? This makes no sense.
4) What would the bib boss’ son would gain by sabotaging the whole project? He would definitely not make his father to like him more. Thus not even he makes any sense.
5) What is the detective boy’s role in the film? To look all cute and innocent next to the robot girl? He didn’t offer anything other than being dragged from one scene to another.
6) Why would we consider the robot girl to be a tragic character? It is a robot that hardly does anything in the whole film.
7) Why did everything go to hell in the end anyway? It is never explained.
So no, it is not a good film. Not by miles.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (nicely done)
Character Figures 1/2 (blobs)
Backgrounds 2/2 (nicely done)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (slow)
Complexity 2/2 (rich in context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (messy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 0/2 (very weak)
Personality 1/2 (generic)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too boring to rewatch)
Memorability 1/4 (aside from nostalgia, no reason to remember it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Nice visuals but that is all.