March 7, 2011

Metropia (2009)

WHILE I DO REVIEW plenty of animated films for kids, I’ve covered some adult animated fare as well: Heavy Metal, Watership Down, etc.

So when I saw the trailer for the decidedly adult-looking animated film Metropia, I was intrigued to learn more…

In the year 2024, the world is running out of oil and the underground train systems of Europe have been connected, creating a gigantic subway network. In a suburb of Stockholm, telemarketer Roger (Vincent Gallo) tries to stay away from the underground because every time he enters, he hears a stranger’s voice in his head. Is someone trying to control him? Looking for help, he turns to the mysterious Nina (Juliette Lewis) – but the further they travel, the deeper Roger becomes involved in a dark conspiracy.


The uniquely animated characters in Metropia have a photorealistic quality – like Drew Friedman illustrations come to life. But while the film is stylishly animated and includes arresting art direction by Martin Hultman (painting a dank, dreary, Orwellian landscape), the execution of the story is taxing.

We’re forced to sit through loooong stretches of Roger, Nina, and other supporting characters talking. Or walking. Or talking and walking. While that may be enough action for a film by Tarantino or Woody Allen, it’s painful to sit through here. Maybe director (and former graffiti artist) Tarik Saleh thinks the conversations between Roger and Nina create enough momentum to carry the picture, but the only momentum they invoke is making your eyelids move downward.

Any attempts at action don’t happen until the last 15 minutes; by then it’s too little, way too late. And the “shocking” use of a Hello Kitty doll as a weapon of mass destruction is only shocking as in, “I’d be shocked if Sanrio actually gave the filmmakers permission to use her likeness this way.”

While Metropia takes place in a grimy futureworld, the viewer experience is quite sterile. Whatever point Saleh and his two fellow screenwriters are trying to make – some undercooked message about consumerism, Big Brother, and mind control – is a mishmash of ideas that have been done before, and done better.

Saleh started out making animated shorts for Swedish television. Had Metropia been a short film versus a full-length feature, he – and anyone who’s sat through all 86 minutes of this plodding picture – might have been better off.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Metropia features a noticeable amount of profanity, plus a few scenes of nudity and sexual situations. In terms of violence, we see an open-eyed dead woman being zipped up in a body bag, a man is pushed in front of an oncoming subway train (dying off-screen), several people die in a bomb explosion, and a man is shot in the head. I would say young teens or possibly tweens would be the minimum age group suitable for viewing.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Doubt it. Too bleak, too slow, too long. Look elsewhere for something to enjoy together.

* Director: Tarik Saleh
* Screenwriters: Stig Larsson, Fredrik Edin, Tarik Saleh
* Stars: Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, Alexander Skarsgard, Sofia Helin
* MPAA Rating: N/A

Buy Metropia from >>
Rent Metropia from Netflix >>


StuartOhQueue said...

"...the only momentum they invoke is making your eyelids move downward."

A quote for the ages. The animation, indeed, looks compelling but I can see how the look of the film might suggest it getting a little slow and pretentious.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Never heard of it, but it would have been something I would have been intrigued by, so thanks for the review.


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