Sunday, April 11, 2010

Movie Review: Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis

Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis
Rated PG-13
4 Slimes
Copyright TriStar Pictures 2002


Kenichi: The nephew of Shunsaku, who comes to Metropolis with him on a job. He becomes friends with Tima, which gives her human emotions. When she dies, he stays behind in Metropolis to put her back together.

Tima: A robot with human emotions that was made by Dr. Laughton, so that she could control the ziggurat. She is modeled after Duke Red’s deceased daughter and does not know she is a robot. She goes insane towards the end of the film and dies because of it.

Shunsaku Ban: A private detective who came to Metropolis in order to arrest Dr. Laughton. He spends a lot of his time searching for Kenichi during the film and uncovering the secrets behind Duke Red’s ziggurat and Tima. He returns to Japan after the film ends.

Pero: A robot who is assigned to help Kenichi and Shunsaku track down Laughton. He is killed during the revolution by Atlas.

Atlas: A leader of a revolution group who wants to equality and wants robots to suffer for taking all of the jobs him and his followers had. He is killed during the revolution.

Dr. Laughton: A mad scientist that Shunsaku and Kenichi are searching for to arrest. He is in Metropolis to build Tima for Duke Red. Rock kills him.

President Boone and Acetylene Lamp: (Lamp is Steve Blum!) The president of Metropolis who has no power as long as Duke Red is in charge and Lamp is his assistant. They are in favor of a revolution to overthrow Red, but are killed by a spy general.

Rock: In charge of security for Metropolis and Duke Red’s sort of adopted son. He is extremely jealous of Tima and believes she will replace him in Duke’s heart. I highly doubt that he was even in his heart to begin with. He destroys the ziggurat with him inside.

Duke Red: The ruler of Metropolis and the adopted father of sorts to Rock. He wants to rule the world by using Tima to control the ziggurat’s power, which can be used to gain his goal. Unfortantely, things don’t go right when Tima realizes she is a robot and is just being used. He dies when the whole ziggurat starts blowing up.

+ Robots need to be taught the basics of grammar and language.
+ When there is a sun spot, stay away from the robots.
+ People aren’t really as suspicious as they should in the future.
+ People can shoot far away targets easily, but have very terrible time shooting at close targets.
+ Robots can track people through electric currents.

10 min – So pretty!
12 min – This is what Coruscant looked like in the early years.
23 min – Seems very complicated.
33 min – Whoa.
36 min – Yes, thousands of dollars worth of damage and people traumatize, but it was a success!
43 min – So the workers aren’t suspicious about why 2 kids are around there?
47 min – Man, normally he has great aim.
52 min – Awww!
60 min – Got to love the fact that there aren’t any bullet holes.
74 min – Creepy.
82 min – Looks like you built the place out of legos.
87 min – SEE! Robots have feelings too!
92 min – This can’t end well for one of them.
94 min – This won’t end well for them period.
95 min – What the hell…
99 min – Give me a moment… I need to cry a bit…
103 min – So here’s hoping to future!

Opening Quote: Every epoch dreams its successor – Jules Michelet

Tima: Who am I?

Duke Red: At this moment we as a nation are about to touch the stars! I tremble at the honor of announcing the culmination of mankind's history of intellectual and scientific achievement. Yesterday our power spanned the Earth; today it can illuminate the heavens! May it stand forever! Our Ziggurat!


A long time ago, the silent film Metropolis was released in 1927 and it was amazing. Then many years later, the Godfather of manga in Japan named Osamu Tezuka decided to make a manga off it. Ok, just the movie poster, but still. Now, decades later after that, an anime movie adaption of the manga has been released. It also incorporates elements from the silent film as well! How did this movie turn out?  Let's look!

Our feature presentation begins as we open to the city of Metropolis during a party in celebration of the creation of the ziggurat, a brand new skyscraper. It seems to be a big deal and there are some rumors about it being something for the military. However, Duke Red, the leader of Metropolis, says that there isn’t anything to worry about it (*coughliarcough*). Also, there is Rock, his sort of adopted father, who is in charge of taking out any rebelling robots that are in the city, such as one that disrupts the ceremony of the ziggurat.

We then meet Private Detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew, Kenichi, who have come to Metropolis from Japan in order to arrest Dr. Laughton, a vicious and mad scientist type who is into trafficking human organs. The 2 of them get a robot, who they named Pero, from the police to help in their investigation as well. Pero takes them to Zone 1 (Metropolis divided into different areas), a lower level of the city, where Laughton is likely to be.

Meanwhile, Duke Red meets with Dr. Laughton, who is currently building a female robot named Tima for him. The purpose of Tima is to have someone rule over the ziggurat. When Red leaves, Rock arrives and shots Laughton, angry that he created something that would replace him in Duke Red’s heart. Sir, Duke Red clearly doesn’t like you that much from previous scenes so why bother? Rock also burns the place down to make sure everything is lost.

Shunsaku, Kenichi, and Pero arrive on the scene and find the place burning. They run inside and split up. Kenichi runs into Tima, but the floor collapses and they fall into an even deeper part of the city. Shunsaku reaches Laughton who dies, but allows managed to get a strange notebook. After the fire, Rock realizes that there are no remains of Tima like he thought there would be, so he starts searching around to make sure she is gone.

Kenichi and Tima end up in Zone 3, which is the sewer treatment area. He tries teaching her some basic language skills, since she basically has none, to little avail. Neither one of them know that Tima is a robot by the way (That'll come back to play later on). Up on the surface, we see that ziggurat is actually a sunspot… creator machine. I don’t understand the purpose of the machine; since it causes all robots to go haywire, but it is suppose to give Duke Red the power of the gods! Whatever that means. This little incident gets him some hate from President Boone and Acetylene Lamp, who think this would be a good time to try to overthrow Red and regain the true control of the city.

Shunsaku and Pero start looking around for Kenichi now that he is missing and they also trail Rock, who they think was involved in the murder of Laughton. Rock heads into Zone 3 and spots Kenichi with Tima. He tries shooting them to get rid of Tima and to silence Kenichi, but they make a break for it for Zone 1 with him following. After a long chase, they take refuge with Atlas, who leads a rebel group of unemployed labors, who were fired because robots took their jobs. This won't end well if they find out what Tima is.

Atlas explains that to the 2, since he thinks they are newspaper reporters, that his group are going to start a revolution soon since everyone is living in poverty and gets nothing from the higher levels of Metropolis. Also helping the rebels are Boone and Lamp. Kenichi hangs around with the group for now and discovers that Tima can fully say words and can now spell words; especially his own!  Awww.

The following day, Atlas and his group begin their revolution. Shunsaku and Pero get caught in the middle of this, with Pero getting destroyed and Shunsaku having to go get help from the police. Meanwhile, Boone and Lamp are killed by a military general, who seemed to be working for them, but was an actual spy for Duke Red. Because of no military backing now like they hoped; the rebels are crushed, Atlas is killed, and Red imposes martial law.

Kenichi and Tima reach the surface to see the chaos of what has happened and manage to meet up with Shunsaku. Rock, who pops out of nowhere, catches up to them and shoots Shunsaku. Duke Red arrives on the scene and is shocked to discover that Tima is still alive. He also strips Rock of all his authority for destroying the lab & killing Dr. Laughton. Tima is taken to the ziggurat, while Kenichi is taken away by the Marduks, which are sort of like a special police force of the city, for... unexplained reasons.

Days later, Rock kidnaps and deactivates Tima, hoping that he can still gain his ‘dad’s’ love if he gets rid of the competition. However, Shunsaku runs into him and steals Tima away from him, while knocking him out. He activates her, due to the notebook he got from Laughton, and has her help him save Kenichi, who is now being held at the ziggurat. However, they are both captured on their way there. Shunsaku confronts Duke Red, who is again on the scene (Guess he likes being in the middle of the action), and determines he probably instigated Dr. Laughton’s murder. Since he knew his son was jealous, he figured he could have him kill Laughton and leave no trace behind to Tima.  That's actually kind of clever.

Duke Red takes Tima to the ziggurat, so he can have her rule over it and when he passes on, have her rule the world. When she asks him if she is a human or robot, he tells her that she is superhuman and she made to be better than all other humans and robots. She is confused (Who wouldn’t be!), because if she is a robot, why does she have feelings? Red says to forget that and to take the throne of the ziggurat. Shunsaku, who is also there along with Kenichi (He's free now), tells her that once she takes the throne, she’ll lose all her memories and emotions, becoming more of a supercomputer that is made to conquer the world.

Duke Red is furious that he found out, but he is also surprised when Rock sneaks in and confronts them all. He shoots Tima, believing she has no right on the throne and that it should belong to Red, but is also gunned down by the guards too. The bullet doesn’t do any damage to Tima, but it reveals her robot skeleton underneath her fake skin. In horror of discovery who she really is, she starts crying! See, like Johnny 5 and Wall-E, robots can feel things too you know!

However, the shot also messes with her circuits and causes her to go insane. She takes over the throne and combines with the ziggurat, takes control all of its weapons, and even puts the robots in the city under her control. She wants to exact revenge on humanity for all its cruel treatments of robots and her being misused herself. I’m getting a Terminator feeling all of a sudden. Everyone takes off in terror, including Rock who survived being shot!  Thank God for bullet proof vests or something. Kenichi, however, stays behind and heads after Tima to convince her to stop, as she descends into the lower regions of the ziggurat.

Kenichi drags her off the throne as the main computer starts to completely attach her, tearing away all of her skin on the right side of her body from the head to her foot. Nightmare fuel right there folks! Even though she is off the throne, she is still off her rocker and starts to attack Kenichi. Meanwhile; Red Duke, his guards, and his scientists have a little encounter with all of those robots that Tima had turned against humans. Guess what happens now?

Rock sets off the self destruction of the ziggurat, which starts bringing the whole place down. All of this destruction and choas is also being set to the song I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles. Now that is just surreal! During the collapse, Tima tries to kill Kenichi, but she ends up nearly falling off on the grinders in the building and is clinging to a wire. Kenichi tries to pull her up and as he does, she finds comes out of her insanity and remembers him. She asks him, “Who am I?” and then falls to the world below. I'll... need a moment...

The ziggurat explodes and city of Metropolis is left in ruins, though the citizens are still alive. The following morning, Kenichi searches the ruins and discovers that a group of robots have recovered most of the parts of Tima. He meets up with Shunsaku and tells him he is going to stay here and look for more of Tima’s parts. With that, the credits roll and we are treated to one final thing. We see a picture of a shop called Kenichi and Tima’s Robot Company with Tima in the picture! He put her back together! Hooray!

Now with that said, how was the movie? Sadly and yet again, I have not seen the original Metropolis or read Osmau Tezuka’s own comic so I can’t do an analysis to see how faithful this movie was to the original source material. As such, I will the judge movie on its own merits.

Starting with the negatives, the cartoony look of the characters will bug some people. I have read that the animation was enough to drive them away from the movie (Kind of a stupid reason) and never even got to the good parts of the film. The characters aren’t given much of a background to them, so we don’t end up knowing too much about which is sort of sad. Also, some scenes don’t seem very important or could have been skipped over, like the revolution part.

However, these problems can’t hurt the film that much. The voice acting is pretty strong with a solid cast, though it doesn’t have many recognizable people unlike a Studio Ghibli dub. The animation is incredible, with impressive details of the city to great combination of CGI for some scenes. The story is pretty good and the climax just really gets you pumped. The soundtrack is incredible with its cool use of jazz and strange use of music. The song that plays over the destruction of the city is pretty weird, but fascinating and makes the tearjerker moment even sadder.

This is a strong and amazing movie that some people haven’t heard of or refuse to watch because of the animation. It’s sad that they are missing out on one of the most entertaining anime movies around.  Is it the best anime movie?  No, there are still more out there that can be considered better.  However, it is one that must be seen for just how incredible it can be.

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