WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based on the manga of the same name by Osamu Tezuka, this film and its source shares much with the old Fritz Lang film of the same name. In the future, the city of Metropolis has become so large that it's now its own nation - complete with social classes. The rich live in large, elaborate skyscrapers, while the lower-class (made up of workers and robots) toil away in the "under-city." Meanwhile there's a wacky scientist named Duke Red who has created a super-robot in his dead daughter's image and uses it to power a weapon with the potential to flatten the city/nation. That weapon, Duke hopes, will allow him to rule the world (insert moustache twisting and evil laugh here). Love, shootouts, escapes, chases, and the apocalypse, all set to jazz music, soon follow.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I really thought that I would like this movie. I had heard about the film's "love it/hate it" response from those who had seen it, but considering that it was written by Otomo, the man behind AKIRA, I expected to be on the love it side. I was wrong. While I didn't hate it, I certainly didn't love it. I suppose it could be best summed up as such - eye candy. A truly beautiful blend of traditional and CGI animation with a superb amount of detail you just don't see in many animated films. That being said, the film fails to support the stunning visuals. The plot is confusing and boring and I never really cared about what was going to happen in the end. And when it did, I just rolled my eyes, chuckled a bit and turned off the TV.
The film tries hard, I'll give it that. There's an attempt to say something greater here with quite obvious metaphors for religion and other allusions but everything just falls short. I began to think that maybe I didn't like it because it tried too hard. Had the director loosened up a little bit and not tried to force it all down the viewer's throat, it would've been more palatable. But all in all, I just felt like there was nothing here that I haven't seen done before about a hundred times better. I feel generous giving it as many stars as I did but that's partly because I'm a fan of animation and appreciate the amount of effort and detail that went into making this movie. Those who aren't anime fans will likely to fall asleep somewhere around 45 minutes. A quick note - I found myself continuously checking the clock, then checking to see how long the movie was to see how much was left. Never a good sign.
In my opinion, if you don't like a film...you probably aren't going to like the rest of the DVD. There are a few exceptions but generally even if a DVD is packed to the gills with extras, it won't make a lick of difference if you didn't care for the movie. So goes it with METROPOLIS. Now before we get into the extras, allow me to caution you. It may be billed as a two-disc set and may look like a two-disc set but in fact, it's a 1-1/2 disc set. The second disc of extras is actually a mini-DVD, the size of which is approximately half the size of a normal disc and could likely fit in the palm of your hand. As the size is smaller, so is the amount of content that can fit on to it. So buyer beware...
The first extra is the "Making of METROPOLIS" featurette. It runs about a half-hour long and is basically your traditional behind-the-scenes fare. Like the movie itself, it's a Japanese production so English is not its first language. Interesting for me because I'm into animation but my wife found it Boring with a capital "B."
Next up is the manga-to-film comparison that features two scenes and shows how they were adapted for the screen from the book, what was changed, and so on. Nice utilization of the multi-angle format but tends to get bogged down with more of a historical bend on Osamu Tezuka.
In addition to these main features are some more traditional fare like cast & crew bios and interviews, trailers, and a photo gallery.
If you're an anime or general animation buff, you might consider giving this film a try. Like I said earlier, I know people who loved it but I particularly didn't. It may strike your fancy though. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this film, or the disappointing "special" edition, to the ordinary filmgoer though. My suggestion is to watch (or rewatch) another film written by Otomo, the classic AKIRA.