When a film blogger sees a good movie that doesn’t typically receive much attention, it is that blogger’s duty to post about the film and recommend it to others. That’s why I try to report these hidden gems in my posts whenever possible. Here, I’m dedicating a small post to a under-appreciated film that you may or may not have heard of: Metropolis. This is not the pioneering silent classic by Fritz Lang that I’m talking about. Recently, I’ve discovered a Japanese anime film with the same title that I found to be both more exciting and more awe-inspiring than its predecessor. Metropolis (2001) may not be the most innovative film out there, but it is filled with quality animation and colossal sets that are nothing short of incredible.
I’ve watched very few anime films; in fact, I’ve only seen about five. I’ve seen both Grave of Fireflies and Spirited Away, but this, I believe is more accessible to mainstream American audiences than both of those. It is an exciting sci-fi, in the tradition of Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and of course, Metropolis. It’s worth watching just for the wonderful shots of massive, futuristic buildings and crowded streets. The filmmakers build an atmosphere around these shots throughout the story, giving audiences a great sense of the hugeness of Metropolis.
I’m not going to blindly claim that Metropolis is perfect. While the scope of this film is epic, the movie does struggle in the character department. However, I was never distracted by this during the movie. The characters are appropriate for a science fiction film, the only problem is that the film avoids any deep analysis of the characters. Essentially, viewers are shown ordinary, one-dimensional (perhaps two-dimensional in some cases) characters in an extraordinary three-dimensional world. The common phrase, “style over substance,” could apply to this film, but the “substance” of Metropolis is not necessarily poor; it just fails to reach the same level as the over-whelming style of it all.
Despite what I’ve said against this movie, I still believe it to be a very good, worthwhile picture. It’s a fantastic adventure film and an accessible anime flick. There are also many similarities to the classic that it shares its name with. I’ve thought about this film often since watching it and I’m looking forward to watching it again sometime. Without a doubt, I’d recommend Metropolis to any science fiction fan. If you liked The Fifth Element, you will probably find something to like here.
“If you have never seen a Japanese anime, start here. If you love them, Metropolis proves you are right.” -Roger Ebert’s four-star review of Metropolis
Note: Metropolis was available in the Free Movies section of YouTube when I watched it and it can probably still be streamed for free. If you’re interested in watching it, look there.