Metropolis Blu-ray Review
Fritz Lang by way of Akira
Movies reviewSRP: £12.99
"Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis" is a densely plotted adaptation of Tezuka's 1949 manga, itself based on Fritz Lang's classic 1927 silent movie.Although Lang's politically-charged sci-fi flick clearly marks the basis for this variation - not least in the setting and split between factions of society - this new Metropolis is its own distinctly flavoured creation. Operating a tri-level of society - not wholly unlike the upper, middle and working classes - Metropolis is founded upon an underground of working robots who are denied proper identities. The leader of the city, Duke Red, has his lead scientist create a new kind of robot modeled on his late daughter, but when the robot goes missing in the underground of Metropolis, Red's son - who distrusts robots - sets out to destroy her.Adapted by the same guy who wrote the classic Akira, Metropolis is reminiscent not only in terms of high concepts, thick, almost impenetrable plotting, complex ideas and unfettered socio-political observations, but also in its pure animation style. It's a grand, epic piece, spinning and twisting its original Fritz Lang ideas and scope using the full breadth and capabilities of animation which has, itself, been painstakingly digitally advanced over a number of years. Whilst the end result isn't completely accessible, it's a lofty, ambitious work bolstered by clever political aspirations and frequently stunning visuals.
Picture QualityEureka's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis boasts a largely impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
A largely impressive video presentation
Seamlessly blending hand-drawn animation - hundreds of thousands of individual cells - with some lavish digital shots, leaves the image itself variable at least in terms of demo assessment - the digital material is both striking, epic and also slightly soft around the edges; the hand-drawn work is flawed, dated but strongly defined and arguably more commensurate to the vintage of the piece.
There are some undeniably impressive setpieces, notably bookending the piece, and the presentation is certainly faithful to the varying styles of material on offer, even if not quite consistently demo worthy.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks - both in original Japanese and dubbed English flavours - as well as LPCM 2.0 English and Japanese counterparts, remain faithful to the Metropolis's distinctive sound design and score.
A solid, frequently good audio presentationWhilst dialogue is pushed to the fore for precise delivery across the frontal array - with suitable English subtitles carrying you through the original Japanese language - and effects allow the various distinct layers of the metropolis to come to life, complete with thundering machinery, whirring robotics, bustling streets and punchy gunfire, it's the score/music that stands out. The jazz music backing and more haunting instrumental score gives the film a distinctive flavour. Whilst, again, far from demo quality, it's a solid, frequently very good presentation.
ExtrasEureka deliver Metropolis with a nice selection of extra features headlined by a weighty half-hour Documentary, The Making of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis, which looks behind the production. It's a largely subtitled affair, in original Japanese, taking you through Tezuka's source material, which itself offered some interesting future predictions, the work done to bring it to life, blending animated and digital components, telling a dense socio-political story and so forth.
There are also a couple of Filmmaker Interviews, with the Director, Rintaro, discussing why Metropolis was made, the animation technique, and what Tezuka would have thought of the film had he still been alive; and Writer Katsuhiro Otomo on why he wrote Metropolis, and what the most significant elements were in the story.
A nice selection of extra features
A series of animation comparisons, showing the various layers of animation implemented, and a couple of trailers round off the disc, and the package itself is also available in a steelbook form which curiously predates it by a few weeks.
Blu-ray VerdictA lofty, ambitious work bolstered by clever political aspirations and frequently stunning visuals
Eureka's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis delivers very good video and audio and a strong selection of extra features, making it a must-have purchase for fans of the film.
You can buy Metropolis on Blu-ray here
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