Reviewby Allen Divers, May 20th 2002
The citizens of Metropolis celebrate the greatness of all they have achieved with the unveiling of the Ziggurat. While in the midst of celebration, the city's benefactor, Duke Red, prepares to unveil the true purpose of the Ziggurat. Duke Red's son Rock is not pleased with his father's chosen path, or the successor to the Ziggurat and takes steps to change the destiny of Metropolis. Caught between them, is Tima, a young girl of unusual origin and unsure of her true purpose.
Now Tima is on the run with the nephew of a Japanese detective who only wants to protect her from Rock's plans. The tri-level world of Metropolis hangs in the balance as Tima discovers her true destiny!
Based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, Metropolis presents another classic tale that should be considered a staple in any true Anime lover's collection. Metropolis marks another milestone by being released by a mainstream label, Columbia Tristar. Relatively new to the Anime market, Columbia Tristar shows a lot of care for this modern day classic with a strong dub and a well thought out DVD release.
Prior to Metropolis, Osamu Tezuka is best known for his work with Astro Boy. Yasuhiro Nakura carries on that familiar style with the character designs in Metropolis. The characters seem in direct contrast with their environment of a harsh metal world but still come across as believable. While the characters come across as very familiar Tezuka designs, the background and mecha elements seem to take a cue from the original silent version of Metropolis filmed in the early 1900s. The designs come across as very retro, while at the same time futuristic.
The animation for Metropolis is top-notch, with a lot of attention given to every detail in the mixing of traditional cell animation and computer generated images. The use of CGI creates an immense amount of detail in the background, while being subtle enough to not pull away from the action of the characters. The camera action and framing of the action takes on a level of near live-action quality thanks to the flexibility of the CGI.
The DVD features an anamorphic version of the movie, allowing viewers to take full advantage of the original theatrical presentation. Columbia Tristar shows off their DVD authoring skill with a beautiful transfer than maintains the high quality of the original film. The DVD features animated menus in the style of the Metropolis skyline. The animation of the menus is smooth with simple transitions to the other menus. The menus also feature a nice 1920s sounding selection pulled from the movie itself.
The DVD is packed with 2 Japanese soundtracks (DTS and Dolby Digital, both 5.1), an English soundtrack (Dolby Digital 5.1) and a French soundtrack. All of the soundtracks are rich and full in nature, with good mixes between dialogue and music. Each soundtrack shares the incidental music and sound effects tracks. Most of the Metropolis music track sounds very 1920s in nature. This harkens back to the original silent movie era Metropolis made around that time.
Foregoing their Hollywood origins, Columbia Tristar took a subtle approach when putting together the English dub cast. While a lot of the English cast may sound familiar to many dub fans, the movie doesn't get bogged down with big name stars. This was a good choice on the part of Columbia Tristar because it gives justice to the entire movie. The voice actors sound well suited to their parts with a lot of strong performances in all the characters.
Being a special edition DVD release, there must be a few extras to satisfy the enthusiasts, and Metropolis meets this by including a special 3-inch DVD. While an unusual format that may give a few players trouble, the DVD is packed with a lot of goodies. To start with is a documentary on the making of the film, exclusive interviews and a biography on Osamu Tezuka. There's also a conceptual art gallery as well as a multi-angle animation comparison.
The story of Metropolis is nothing new to literature and movie fans. Boy meets girl, girl gets in trouble and so on. The real key here though is how the story is told. Being a movie, the pacing provides a short time to provide enough background for viewers to not feel lost in the movie. Metropolis starts a bit slow, handing out the basics, then zooms forward to its conclusion. The visuals, dialogue and transitions do a good job of carrying the viewer through the movie without getting lost. The trip from beginning to end is nice and smooth with no jarring surprising or out of context dialogue. Each character has their place in the film with no real throwaway characters mixed in to distract the audience. With the spectacular visuals involved with the animation, it would be easy to get distracted by a large panning shot, but the story telling drives the camera movements. Metropolis is a tough movie to pigeonhole. Part Sci-Fi, part political drama, part love story it covers a lot of different genres to make up its environment and its driving plot. The story in Metropolis appeals to a wide audience with its strong dialogue and even stronger characters. Metropolis upholds the idea that Japanese animation produces great stories. The combined elements of the animation and the soundtrack are actual by-products to the great story underneath.
Columbia Tristar has done a great job with Metropolis. Staying away from big names, Columbia Tristar has allowed Metropolis to shine through on its own merits. The animation and overall story of Metropolis shine as an example of the finest products from Japan. The message is clear that Animation has just as much ability to drive emotions as any live action film.
+ Beautiful imagery and strong story
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