Review: ‘Metropolis’

Given the names involved, Japanime " Metropolis" fails to fulfill expectations, signaling an offshore career solely on ancillary among high-end buffs of manga-derived animation. Helmer Rintaro's reworking of a reworking of Fritz Lang's silent classic lacks the kind of wild, outre smarts that normally propel Japanimation into wider markets.

Given the creative names involved, Japanime ” Metropolis” fails rather spectacularly to fulfill expectations, signaling an offshore career solely on ancillary among high-end buffs of manga-derived animation. Reworking of a reworking of Fritz Lang’s silent classic lacks the kind of wild, outre smarts that normally propel Japanimation into wider markets.

Helmer Rintaro has a long and distinguished career the past 40 years, and is best known in the West for his TV series “Astro Boy.” Script also has a distinguished provenance — from the pen of Katsuhiro Otomo (director of “Akira”) from a 1949 manga by Osamu Tezuka, the father of the genre. By trying to evoke the spirit of early mangas (far less kinetic than recent ones), Rintaro and Otomo have taken a calculated gamble that limits the pic’s audience, despite the smooth combination of CGI with drawn characters. Tale of the struggle for personal freedom in a futuristic, tyrannical society is light on action by contempo standards, and pic’s look is uninteresting, apart from occasionally bizarre backgrounds. Pacing is moderate, enlivened early on by a ’20s jazz score and given more drama by Wagnerian motifs in the later stages.

Metropolis

Japan

Production

A Toho Co. release of a Madhouse Prods. production. (International sales: Sony, Tokyo. Directed by Rintaro (Shigeyuki Hayashi). Screenplay, Katsuhiro Otomo, from the manga by Osamu Tezuka.

Crew

Music, Toshiyuki Honda; computer graphics-designer, Shinichi Hirata. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 5, 2001. Japanese dialogue. Running time: 107 MIN.

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