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Adapted from Osamu Tezuka's 1949 manga, Metropolis (in Japanese with English subtitles) is an opulently beautiful film that fails to present a coherent story worthy of its extraordinary visuals. Evil Duke Red (voice by Taro Ishida) plans to rule the world from Ziggurat, his newly completed art deco tower. A new robot is being developed by his henchman Dr. Laughton (Junpei Takeguchi) to control all the machines in the world from Ziggurat. Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban (Kousei Tomita) and his nephew Kenichi (Kei Kobayashi) arrive in Metropolis in pursuit of Laughton and are plunged into Red's plot. When the duke's maniacal adopted son Rock (Kohki Okada) attacks Laughton's hidden lab, Kenichi and the waiflike android Tima (Yuka Imoto) flee into the city's subterranean slums and fall in love. Despite a protracted series of chases and violent shootouts, there's little excitement and less character development. Director Rintaro (Hayashi Shigeyuki) borrows heavily from Fritz Lang's 1926 Metropolis, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, but his staging makes much of the action hard to follow. The film takes an unintentionally hilarious turn when Ziggurat crumbles to Ray Charles's "I Can't Stop Loving You." The computer-generated skyscrapers, machines, and airships offer dazzling vistas of an overscaled and sinister deco-dystopia. But Tezuka's flat little characters, with their big eyes, round noses, and bubble-shaped feet, don't fit into that realistic three-dimensional environment. MPAA rating: PG. Contains considerable violence and grotesque imagery. --Charles Solomon --This text refers to the Theatrical Release edition.

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