Cinepub


Review: Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis by Jamie
10/03/2009, 7:08 pm
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Anime and I have a long, complicated past. There have been times when I have been quite a fan and times when I don’t care for it all that much. Generally, the older I get, the more I seem to dislike the genre. I can still respect the classics but as for sitting down and watching an anime series, well that’s pretty much out of the question these days. But why? What is it that causes this ever growing dislike for Japanese animation? Well, I guess the most obvious thing that turns me against it is the pacing. It seems to me as though anime can go for a very long time without much happening. Now, when something actiony does happen it’s generally very well done but for some reason, down time in an anime seems to last a life time and the juxtaposition between the two is often quite jarring. Hell, this even affects such greats as Akira. Perhaps it’s not so much a criticism of the genre, maybe it’s my fault. Maybe not.

Another favourite to pick on when it comes to anime is the voice acting, but I’m not going to dwell on this too much. In my opinion it’s pretty much like anything else, you get the good and the bad. There is the extra problem of course of English voice actors having to cram or elongate a sentence to fit it into a characters open mouth which can sometimes lead to a somewhat stilted performance, especially with the insertion of English lines which seem to be irrelevant or overstate a point just because a characters mouth is moving, but I think you’ve got to cut them some slack there.

Sometimes however, it just gets it right, such as in this 2001 film inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s manga, Metropolis, a manga which I have never read. The central character of it is apparently based on a still from the 1927 movie of the same name, a movie which I have also not seen. This should be interesting. Spoilers ahead, bitches. Seriously, I can’t review this film with talking about, perhaps even showing the ending. It’s splendiferous.

Set in Metropolis, which looks like a 1930s American city but with robots and zeppelins, at a time when there is apparently conflict between robots and their human masters. Robots, it seems have progressed to a stage where there artificial intelligence is practically comparable to humans but they lack the same rights as humans, are forbidden to travel between the four zones that Metropolis is divided into and are forbidden from taking on human names.

The films opens with a city-wide celebration because the Ziggurat has been completed. Sweet, I’ve been looking forward to Ziggurat completion for some time! What? What’s the Ziggurat, you ask? Well, its… Well it’s not explained yet. But it’s complete so shut the fuck up and drink! Woo! Celebrate! The party is soon crashed, however, by a robot protestor who has left his assigned zone and, as such, is gunned down by the apparently twelve years old antagonist of the picture, Rock. We soon find out that Rock is a Marduk, an organisation designed to protect the citizens of Metropolis from law-breaking ’bots. He’s also the adopted son of Duke Red (though Duke really seems to hate the kid), the most influential citizen in all of Metropolis, designer of the Ziggurat and dude who really, really misses his dead daughter. So much so that he has commissioned a robot replica to be built.

Meanwhile, a Japanese detective by the name of Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive in Metropolis on the trail of alleged human organ trafficker Dr. Laughton, who just so happens to be the man hired by Duke Red to build his new robot daughter. The police are far to busy trying to control all the hubbub surrounding the Ziggurat celebrations so Shunsaku is assigned a robot detective to help find the doctor. He’s kinda like Inspector Gadget but without the personality. Oh, and he doesn’t screw up all the time. Not entirely sure he has gadgets either. Hmm, Ok so he’s not like Inspector Gadget, he’s just a robot detective.

Anyway, the three head into Zone 1, the zone beneath the city where, at that very moment, Duke Red is visiting Laughton in order to check up on his ‘bot-daughters progress. Rock watches from above as Duke seems to fawn over the incomplete robot and, deciding when the robot is finished his father will never have time for him again, decides to shoot Laughton. The bad doc’s lab explodes, activating and apparently finishing the robot, Tima, and the subsequent fire attracts the attention of Shunsaku, Kenichi and Inspector Not-Gadget which leads to Kenichi rescuing Tima from the fire but also getting separated from his uncle and the boring, gadgetless detective. During their time together alone, Kenichi teaches Tima the basic concepts of humanity and such, as well as meeting a chirping recycle-bot.

Meanwhile, Duke Red tries out the Ziggurat which it turns out to be a sun-spot causing super weapon, the testing of which causes some robots on the surface of Metropolis to go bat-shit crazy. This of coure means that the Marduks have to shoot the shit out of them. Since the Ziggurat was tested without permission and because it seems as though the Ziggurat will massively change the political scope of the city, the mayor and the president decide it is time to arrest Duke Red.

As his uncle and Inspector Boredom work on the hunch that Rock killed Laughton, Kenichi and Tima are being hunted by Rock. They manage to evade him and encounter Atlas, the leader of an anti-robot movement made up largely of workers who have lost their jobs to the increasing mechanisation of the city. When their rations are put on hold during the Ziggurat celebration, they decide to start a revolution beginning with killing off Mr. Gadgetless, the robot detective helping Shunsaku. The president and the mayor are assassinated and Duke Red takes control, the military squashing the rebellion and eventually Tima falls into Duke Red’s hands and it turns out she isn’t just a replacement daughter. She is destined to sit on the throne of the Ziggurat and become the weapon’s control device.

Suddenly Rock shoots Tima, causing a wound which makes her realise her own artificial nature and angers her enough that she joins with the Ziggurat, using it for her own desire to begin a world-wide robot revolution and orders the annihilation of the human race. The robots attack mankind until Kenichi manages to separate Tima from her throne, trying to help her regain all he had taught her about being human even as she tries to kill him. Meanwhile the robots attempt to kill Duke Red. In an effort to save his father, Rock pushes the button to activate the weapon but instead causes it to overload, leading to this scene:

Metropolis I can’t stop loving you
Uploaded by Marceau84

Fuck yeah, I love this scene. It’s reminiscent of the ending of Dr. Strangelove, a touching song playing over the scene of total devestation. Hell yeahs. Anyway, it seems as though Kenichi finally reminds Tima that she once believed herself to be human and what that meant but as she realises this she falls to her apparent death.

The next morning Kenichi helps the robot casualties whilst searching for Tima, finding various parts of her. He then joins his uncle in evacuating Metropolis with humans and robots in a giant plan-like thing. The final shot, however, is of a radio playing music. When it finishes, Tima’s voice can be heard coming across it saying “Who Am I?” suggesting that if her thoughts are still being broadcast then she may be, for want of a better word, alive.

So there you have it. Metropolis. A truly wonderful film with a wonderful ending. The art is crisp, clean and melded perfectly with CGI. The characters seem to be faithful to, I can’t say the manga because I’ve never read it, but Osamu Tezuka’s style. I don’t find the pacing to be a major issue in it like I do in many, many anime films and, though there are a few awkward dialogue moments there aren’t nearly enough to detract from the overall greatness of this movie and if you do find it to distracting, the DVD version comes with the original Japanese and subtitles. Lovely Jubbly.

The film also has an amazing soundtrack. Not only does it feature Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” during that climactic scene, it also has some fantastic Jazz throughout. And who doesn’t love robots and jazz? Well probably that wanker robot detective without any gadgets but everyone else loves them. Awesome.

So now that I’ve finally started writing shit again, come back tomorrow for something else. Maybe a review of Watchmen, maybe another Top 10 list. Maybe something completely different. Who knows? I haven’t decided yet. Laterz.



Great Scenes From Shit Films, Part 8: Batman And Robin by Jamie

It’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been suprisingly busy lately. Today we’ll be looking something just a little notorious. I give you:

Well, here we go then. One of the greatest atrocities ever committed to film. Something so bad it killed not only the Batman franchise but comic book movies in general for several years. Was Batman Forever bad? Undoubtedly. But this? This is… Well watching this is akin to accidentally setting your genitalia on fire, then having someone piss on you to try and put the fire out but missing the fire and hitting you square in the face. That having failed they decide to stamp the fire out before giving up and leaving you there to die. It’s pretty fucking bad.

So what exactly do we have here? Well George Clooney dons the bat-mantle this time, with Anakin Skywalker playing Robin. What? Sorry, that’s Chris O’Donnell. Guess I was confused by his constant fucking whining.

The film opens to them gearing up for business. And oh, how they gear up for business with there new and improved muscle-toned and be-nippled outfits. Marvel at the fine craftsmanship on the ass crack! Revel in delight at the sight of the plastic six-pack! And gasp with joy at the sight of those bat-nipples! I’m sure it’s just the design Bruce Wayne had in mind when he decided that criminals were a superstitious lot that would fear the visage of a bat!

Anyway they eventually (and I do mean eventually, the Batmobile takes forever to emerge from it’s holding space in the Batcave) arrive at the scene of the crime where Mr. Freeze, played here by >shudder< Arnie, is trying to steal a Diamond from Gotham City’s Museum which seems to have all of it’s exhibits in one large neon room. Mr. Freeze makes a few ice puns, freezes Robin, grabs the diamond and escapes. It should be noted at this point that ice puns will feature regularly in this movie. Far, far to regularly. Also of note is the fact that Mr. Freeze is a scientist. A scientist who claims that dinosaurs were made extinct by the Ice Age. I know it’s just another throw away ice pun but it really fucking bothers me.

Meanwhile in South America, Uma Thurman is working for Daniel Clamp who has apparently become a scientist and moved to the Southern Hemisphere after having his tower wrecked by Gremlins. I guess it makes sense. It appears as though they have developed a formula called Venom though Clamp won’t tell Uma what it’s ultimate purpose is. She soon discovers by spying on him when he administers it to a puny convict who then becomes >sigh< Bane. Except it’s not fucking Bane! I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since we’ve already seen not Batman and not Robin fight not Mr Freeze but it’s getting too fucking much now.

Daniel Clamp realises that Uma has been watching him and dumps some chemicals on her when she refuses to join him. He’s convinced she’s dead but of course she isn’t because what this film needs is one more shitty villain. Introducing Poison Ivy! She kills Clamp with her poisonous kiss, finds out Wayne Enterprises has been funding Clamps research and heads to Gotham City with Bane! It’s yawn inducing excitement!

Meanwhile Alfred is dying and his niece Barbara Wilson comes to visit from… England? I mean, that’s what she says but she certainly seems to have an accent that I’ve never heard in this country except for when talking to foreigners… specifically foreigners from America. Oh fuck… I don’t think I can make it through this… I think this film is actually beating me. We’ve already had the wrong version of several Batman characters but it looks as though we’re going to get not Batgirl as well… Sigh. I need a beer. I’ll be back in a minute so Chill Out!

There, I feel better. At a charity event, Ivy puts herself up for auction for a date after dancing seductively whilst dressed as an ape. God, how I wish that didn’t happen. Batman and Robin begin bidding wildly, Batman eventually winning because of his Bat Credit Card. His Bat Credit Card. Where do they send his fucking bills? They actually let a man who dresses as a fucking flying rat have a fucking credit card? FUCK! More Beer.

Right lets get through this. So Freeze interrupts the party, throws around more ice puns and steals another diamond. Batman catches him and Freeze ends up in jail. Ivy busts Freeze out of jail and they join forces with Ivy’s plan being to get Freeze to freeze the world, killing off humans and animals so only plants survive… For fucks sake! She’s supposed to be a scientist too! Yet she knows nothing about exactly what would be affected by freezing the Earth! Has she ever seen anything about the south pole? Does she know what lives there? Fucking penguins! Penguins and no fucking plants! MnnNmNn! More Beer!

No. Fuck it. I’m done. You wanna know how it ends, watch the damn thing yourselves. This film has caused me actual physical pain. My brain hurts and I think my bladder may be failing. Either way this film has left me needing serious surgery. And serious beer. Fuck, I think my eyes might be bleeding. This film makes me want to go out and hurt actual bats. I love bats but now if I ever come across one I am likely to force it to endure Saw-esque levels of torture like making it watch Batman and Robin.

I’m sorry… I tried, tried so hard but it was to much. I never should have tried to take this on alone. If you find this blog post please tell my parents I loved them. My final wish is that I be buried with my DVD collection except for Batman and Robin which is to be destroyed in an appropriate manner. I would suggest toxic waste but I fear the disc would do more damage to the waste than vice versa.

Oh and your scene for today isn’t just one but an entire collection of Arnie’s Ice puns… I’m so very, very sorry.




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