Metropolis (2001)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Anime, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Jan 25, 2002 (USA - Limited), Jan 25, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Tom Wiener

The gulf between backdrop and foreground never seems so large as in Metropolis. Imagine a comic strip that features the characters from Family Circus dropped into the bleak urbanscapes of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, and you have some idea of what this film looks like. Even the villains in Metropolis don't come off as particularly menacing-looking; Duke Red, the builder of the Tower of Babel-like Ziggurat, is just a little less cuddly than the good guy detective and his nephew. Boldly titling your work (as source comic artist Osamu Tezuka did) after an iconic film is asking for trouble. While the rendering of this metropolis is in many ways, thanks to 70 years of cinematic technology, even more jaw-dropping than that in Fritz Lang's original, the characters, especially that of the robot Tima, can't be taken as seriously as Maria (both the real one and the "false" one) and Professor Rottwang. The filmmakers try very hard to dramatize the aching love that Ken-Ichi, the nephew of the detective, feels for Tima, but ultimately, their relationship comes off as something out of a bad early John Hughes movie. Nevertheless, Metropolis has to be seen, because director Rintaro and his production team have crafted a visual masterpiece not without its moments of wit, though the use of Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" seems more than a little jarring, if not totally obvious.