Metropolis (2001)

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Let me say this movie is visually out there, filled with art deco styling and hot jazz that just screams 1920s. There are references to Sumerian mythology, even so much as the city of Metropolis has just opened its most important building yet, The Ziggurat. Sadly, this town could be what might be the birth of The Matrix. Robots serve the citizens of this town, but many people have been put out of work because of them. The robots can do jobs most humans cannot, such as ones dealing with foul chemicals or biohazards. They also serve as civil servants, but there is a faction of robot haters that taken them down in the most violent of ways. These are the Marduks. Metropolis’ most influential man, Duke Red, was the head of the project that built the Ziggurat, and his adopted son, Rock is one of the most hardcore Marduks out there. Also, at the time of the completion of the Ziggurat, a private investigator, Hige-Oyaji, and his nephew, Kenichi, have come from Japan to find a scientist, Dr. Laughton, who has a warrant out for his arrest in several countries for illegal experimentation. Hige-Oyaji come to the city-state’s president, President Boon, and tell him of their assignment. They are sent to the police department and are given a robot investigator, which Hige-Oyaji names Pero, after his dog at home, since robots are not allowed to have human names. Rock spies on the investigators, and follows them to a lower level of the city where he finds his adopted father’s secret project, and the feelings of betrayal consume him.

Dr. Laughton has a lab in an abandoned factory on one of the lower levels of the city, and has been employed by Duke Red to build the most sophisticated robot ever. The robot looks like his late daughter, Tima, and on the outside looks human in every way. Tima is not a replacement for his late daughter, but an important key element in the completion of the Ziggurat. Just about as she is to be programmed, Rock invades the lab, and shoots Dr. Laughton, and causes a series of accidents in the lab,and this triggers Tima’s activation. Hige-Oyaji and Kenichi get out just in time, but as they are running away, Kenichi sees a glowing figure come out. It is the naked form of Tima. Kenichi does not know she is a robot, and gives her his coat to cover up and keep warm in, and they flee the area just before the whole thing explodes. Then we see a race to find the true secret of Tima and her involvement with the Ziggurat, and Duke Red’s hidden agenda. Not only that, the people whom have lost their jobs to robots are fed up, and Metropolis has a revolt on its hands. This movie has many things going on at once, but it all leads to some bad decisions that were made at the highest level that could have been avoided if Duke Red was not so hungry for world domination.

Metropolis was based on a manga by Osamu Tezuka, the writer who gave us Astroboy, and there are many of the same elements here in the animation and art style. From what I have learned about the Metropolis manga, it was rather long and involved, and it seems pretty amazing that the team that put this movie together was able to condense into 108 minutes. While it is dark and beautiful, this movie seemed to have me confused much of the time. Maybe I’m not hip enough to grasp the concepts. I only hope those who love it so much can someday tell me what I am missing.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆