Robot Fabulous

Metropolis

Directed by Rintaro

(Toshio Furukawa, Scott Weinger)

PG-13

I have a dream. I have a dream that one day a little human boy can play alongside a little robot boy.

Back when I was a kid (the 80s), human-sized robots were available to buy for home. They cost a few thousand dollars and could only be used to mingle around a room with a tray full of cocktails, but hey man, there were robots. In Metropolis, the robot has “evolved” into much more.

Metropolis is based on Osamu Tezuka’s elaborative comic book (or as the Japanese call it, Manga). Like its German expressionism cousin with the same name, Metropolis concentrates on the lack of humanism in a technologically advanced, scientifically illuminated future. Dredging through this expression is Detective Shunsaku Ban and his pubescent
sidekick, Kenichi. Tracking down a
mastermind rebel inventor, the duo comes across Tima, a squid-eyed cutie who immediately takes a liking to our boy Kenichi. Before our dicks realize it themselves, the viewer is informed that Tima is actually a robot created to be (trumpet fanfare), “the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.” Hunting down the newly formed trio is the malevolent Lord-General of the city who, in his Czarist-Imperial dress, hawkish eyes, and beakish nose looks a lot like a human-vulture hybrid (not the first time in cinema defamation of vulture character has arisen, for Jiminy sake, just look at cult classic, Dark Crystal).

Every frame in Metropolis is fabulous. Using cell animation and computer digitizing, the color and awe of the film is truly incredible. What really jump-kicked my senses was the incorporation of anachronistic music. In a slum part of town, big band jazz comes pouring through the open tenement windows invoking a 1920s Harlem-Cotton Club feel. I think music is overlooked too much in movies and this is a prime example to start noticing what (and why) different styles are used. Toshiyuki Honda’s compositions supercede the eye candy of the animation and inject the film with extra gusto.

– Sean McGrath

 

Metropolis opens this Friday at the Uptown Theatre.