Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Metropolis

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! An old roommate of mine once described this movie as "the one that had the robot with the boobs."






Metropolis – 4 out of 5

Metropolis has always been a movie I’ve intended to see but just never got around to it (my “Must Watch List” is huge and my friends and readers are always recommending more movies). In college, I read about the 1927 silent film, I watched specials about it and its influence on filmmakers and I’ve even attended lectures where guests spoke about the film. I learned all these things about a movie that was, surprisingly, not well received in its day but I’ve never actually watched it. While it saddens me that I will never be able to watch a complete copy of the film due to much of its original content being lost, I did finally sit down and watch this Sci-Fi epic from yesteryear.

The star of the film is also sad about the lost of the original footage...and also because
he is dead.


Metropolis is a wondrous city where the wealthiest of the wealthy call home. However, to create this vast empire, a massive work force is needed and they are banished to a city below the city where they toil their days away in unhappiness and the hard work required to keep the massive machines that operate the place running. In comes Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), the son of the man who made the city possible. He sees the workers and inhuman suffering and danger they are exposed to after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman from the depths named Maria (Brigitte Helm). After this encounter, he switches places with a worker and feels the suffering first hand. 

Maria looks almost angelic...
 

When he gets a break from the thankless labor, he sees Maria preaching to the workers that a man will rise up and be the one to bring peace between the rich upper class and the poor working class. Freder is believed to be that man but his father will have nothing of it. He instructs his evil scientist (because when you ruthlessly run a city, you need an evil scientist on retainer) to take his new creation; a robot (complete with robo-boobies), and use it to feed dissidence among the workers and destroy their hope of rebellion. However, the new Robo-Maria causes unbridled chaos and leaves the workers’ city in ruins. Now, Freder and Maria must try and calm the workers’ fury, stop the evil doppelganger of Maria and bring the evil scientist to justice…and then see peace between the rich and the poor.

Robo-Maria is a bit of a boner-killer.


There’s no doubt that Metropolis is impressive—even 87 freaking years later. The grand scale alone this film took is unbelievable and when you factor in how racy the film was when it came out (you can see some boobage under a sheer top at one point) you can’t help but think this film was light-years ahead of its time—seriously, you can see some boob meat in it. I thought that era was so prudish that people never got naked for fear God would strike them down for their inappropriate behavior.

Come to think of it...those bits of machinery on the side look like boobs.

Literally, every single character in this film looks like a
potential Batman villain.
The thing that got me the most in this film was just how big it was. Every set is massive and looks amazing and the ridiculous size of the extras that were wrangled up for the workers’ uprising is truly a sight to see—especially since most crowds are achieved through computer effects in this day and age. From a technical standpoint, this film is gorgeous and amazing to witness. It really is no wonder why you can see its influence in this day age and why it remains a part of cinema's subconscious. Shit, that robot in there is something almost everyone has seen even if you’ve never seen the movie. 

Meanwhile, Metropolis' conservatives are stating it's the workers' fault they are
poor and they're just lazy and are looking for a handout.


However, even though the film is a feast for the eyes with its massive visuals, intricate matte paintings and its reconstructed soundtrack, the film still has its limits for me…mostly because of the story.

Whoa, calm down, guys.  I didn't like the story, you don't need to look like you are
either going to kick my ass or possibly rape me.


Right now, my barista that keeps telling me that he is writing the greatest script to ever exist and it will never get made because “Hollywood, like, totally hates originality” is probably getting pissed at me because I think the story sucks to Metropolis. The film is a work of technological and visionary genius for when the picture came out but that doesn’t make the story more interesting or less silly. Like the presentation, the film’s story is completely black and white. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad and everyone is kinda mindless and easily led. You’re not going to find a complex tale in this film but that’s not what I enjoyed about it. 

Metropolis drinking game...drink whenever a character puts a hand/hands over
their heart to express being upset.

You almost got it, buddy!

Okay, she is clearly just feeling herself up.
Okay, that's better.  Now drink.

 
As you can see from my score, I dug the film, I just think the story is ridiculously simple and, while some of the themes are interesting (like the class warfare junk—it’s still just as true today…think about the 99%-ers), the way they were presented in the story just comes off silly…of course, the over-the-top overacting the actors do in silent films doesn’t make this silly factor any less silly. But, I can’t hate on that because most silent films stars came from the stage and, when on the stage, you must EMOTE YOUR FUCKING BRAINS OUT SO THAT THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK CAN SEE YOU!!!! This trait just translated to people acting like cartoon characters in film…or girls that look like they have severe spinal injuries, as is the case in this film.

Seriously, this woman is constantly leaning back that I fear her spine doesn't
offer the support it should be offering.


The real problem with Metropolis is the dialogue…ha ha, I’m fucking with you. It’s a silent film, for Christ’s sake. There is no dialogue.

Seriously, every single one of them are potential enemies of Batman.


Fuck, seriously!  He is clearly talking about how to stop the
Caped Crusader.
In all seriousness, Metropolis is an amazing film that has a shitty story (okay, shitty may be a bit strong but it wasn't that great, in my opinion). Sure, all the actors in the film look creepy as shit thanks to the make-up practices of the time, but the film’s sets and just the all around HUGE scope the film delivers with its dichotomously small story (well, small in the sense that the film tries to tell a tale about worker's unhappiness but the focus is the love story between Freder and Maria) is a spectacle that holds up to this day. Even with the limits of special effects, the film doesn’t come off as dated…as long as you don’t acknowledge that it’s a silent film (doing so instantly dates it, so don’t fucking do it). 


Now kiss!


Will I ever watch Metropolis again? Maybe. Chances are I’ll take the film out to show my kids one day if I can ever instill in them the love of movies that I have (and so help me, if they ever want to eat again, they WILL get that love instilled in them) but, for now, I will appreciate the film for what it’s done to inspire filmmakers over the years and for what it’s done for movie making in general. And I’ll appreciate it for giving us robo-knockers…the internet would not have been the same without that achievement.

Everyone who found that robot shocking back in the day would literally have
their brains blow out their ears if they spent two minutes on the internet.

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