Review by Michael Jacobson
Jamieson Price, Toshio Furukawa, Dave Mallow, Scott Weinger
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: April 23, 2002
takes light to make shadows, I guess…”
simply, the best anime film I’ve ever seen.
It’s a movie that’s technically rich in miniscule detail and overly
abundant in imagination and concept…yet very surprisingly, never loses touch
with the very basic human emotions on which the story is built.
Fritz Lang’s 1926 silent masterpiece, this movie takes place in the future
where a marvel of steel, glass and technology is a human’s paradise above
ground. Under the surface, in zone
after zone, are levels of waste and refuse, and the systems that keep the
where the similarities end. Based
on the popular manga series by Osamu Tezuka, Metropolis is also a world
where man has created robot in his own image.
Robots are made to do the work people don’t want to do, and they do it
efficiently and without complaint. But
in an overpopulated world, even menial jobs can mean life or death for the
overlooked. The robots for some
become a symbol of everything wrong and oppressive about modern life.
political turmoil is set against the backdrop of a celebration, as the city
unveils its monumental new ziggurat. It’s
a testament to technology and mankind’s mastery of it, and a symbol of
pride…a Tower of Babel for the new world.
And while the workers are planning their revolution, a fascist named Duke
Red has plans of his own.
plan involves a world conquest, which he hopes to do with the aid of a
revolutionary new robot, modeled after his dead daughter.
That robot, Tima, is a blend of human being and machine, and was created
simply for the purpose of bringing the best of both worlds together by joining
with the computerized central nervous system of Metropolis, thus advancing the
power of the city’s technology further than had ever before seemed possible.
Red’s adopted son, Rock, is an avowed hater of robots, and wants his father to
sit on the “throne” rather than Tima. When
he learns of Duke Red’s plans, he destroys the lab where Tima is being
gets away, however, but has no idea who or what she really is.
She befriends Kenichi, the son of a detective who came to Metropolis to
arrest the scientist who was creating Tima for performing illegal experiments.
The two become fast friends, like any two kids might. Neither understands at first the forces working against them,
but before long, Tima’s new friends are trying to protect her from the father
who wants to use her and the son who wants her eliminated.
finale is an eye popper. Friendship
or no, Tima begins to learn who she is, and respond to urges (ie, programming)
she had no control over. She may
just assume her position of power, but no one, not even Duke Red, can imagine
the full consequences of that action.
beauty of Metropolis is in the details, and every frame is filled with so
much information that you could watch the film a second time just to pay
attention to the margins. The
craftsmanship is stunning from beginning to end, as the animators under the
direction of Rintaro bring to life a world that could not have possibly been
visualized in any other medium.
its combination of visual flair, intricate detail, and basic humanity at its
heart, Metropolis is certain to be considered a landmark in the history
of anime, as well as animation in general.
mentioned the level of detail several times, and that was possible because of
this stunning anamorphic transfer from Columbia Tri Star.
Most animation looks great on DVD, and Metropolis deserves an
avalanche of superlatives. From its
wildly expressive color schemes to the most miniscule of detail, this film is a
visual cornucopia, and recreates this imaginative world flawlessly for your home
theatre. Blacks are deep and true,
whites are bright and clean, and every tone and shade imaginable renders with no
grain, bleeding, or compression distortions.
audio is no less impressive…for starters, you can hear the original Japanese
track in Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS, and the English dubbed version in Dolby
Digital. If the visuals are a
smorgasbord, the soundtrack is, too…the sounds of the futuristic city spring
to life in every corner, with amazingly smooth and plentiful crossovers from
front to back, back to front, and every direction imaginable as the cars,
planes, and other bits of action come to life.
The .1 channel stays active almost constantly, supplying the city with
its mechanics and the punchier scenes with more bottom end.
The dynamic range is strong on the Japanese track; the English one is
slightly more leveled out, but maintains the integrity of all crossover effects.
The music is impressive, too, and includes a couple of surprising
American numbers during key sequences. Reference
quality all the way.
is a double disc set, so you know the extras are plentiful.
Disc One features the trailers…a video trailer for this film, plus
bonus ones for other Columbia Tri Star animated offerings.
Disc Two is actually a “pocket” disc…smaller than a regular DVD,
but one that will fit nicely into the inner impression on your player’s
loading drawer. It contains a number of good extras, including the 33 minute
“making of” featurette (in Japanese with subtitles), multi angled
presentations on the development of two key sequences, a history of Osamu
Tezuka’s Metropolis, bios for him and director Rintaro, a conceptual
art gallery, and interviews with the filmmakers.
A nice package overall.