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Metropia


The government is after us. Nobody is safe. Every action, every movement, every word of ours is monitored. Death, taxes and conspiracy theorists will always be around. From UFOs to Bigfoot and the JFK assassination, someone will find a piece of convenient evidence to prove the existence of an overarching conspiracy to control our minds or something to that effect. Metropia goes from a unified Europe to global mind control and back in the span of ninety minutes.

Grade:

Europe, 2024. The oil has run out so the Trexx Corporation has unified Europe through a giant system of underground railroads and metro stations. In Sweden, it is even illegal to ride your bicycle to work through the decrepit, grey cities. Roger (voiced by Vincent Gallo) has always been wary of the revised transportation possibilities, but these worries become obsolete as he discovers another problem: an unexplained, spontaneous voice inside his head that is not his own. Once he meets his fantasy girl—the model for Dangst shampoo—Nina (Juliette Lewis), he begins to uncover a covert plot to control people’s minds. Udo Kier (Blade), Stellan Skarsgard and Alexander Skarsgard lend their voices to Metropia as well.

The animation for Metropia is utterly unique as actual photographs were taken, altered and reanimated to create a somewhat clunky, but surreal look at the human body in animated form. Initially, the animation is poorly executed and you are inclined to wonder if it can be tolerated for the entire film, but thankfully there is a distinct improvement in the animation as the film proceeds.

The most offbeat choice to the animation was the constant choice of lighting. Throughout the film, scenes would occur with a moving light as if a spotlight was only temporarily looking into that moment of time before moving on. Maybe this is meant to symbolize the ever-watchful eye of the government, but even I know that’s a bit of a stretch.

Since the animation serves as the main draw to the film but never really surpasses mild interest, the story has to work to maintain your attention. Moving at an almost glacial pace in the first fifteen-twenty minutes does nothing to grasp your curiosity. Roger is a generally apathetic character with uninteresting people surrounding him, like his almost unused girlfriend Anna, who may or may not be cheating on him depending on his mood swings from self-deprecating to depressed—yes, that swing is noticeable.

What ends up happening is…very little. We get the mind control discussion with Nina and Stefan (A. Skarsgard), but the story never really meets the potential. There are attempts at twists and turns, and the idea of a giant, yet-to-be-revealed conspiracy that could change the fate of the European populace is thrown around, but spoiler it never happens (well it does, but it’s already known throughout so the film essentially builds to nothing)! Instead, Roger and Nina move around Europe almost unrecognizably if not for the offhand “Oh, we’re in Paris now.”

Since the film relies so heavily on Roger to carry the story and be our hero, there is immediately an inherent flaw as he is a frustratingly average and annoying character. In films like the often-underrated Idiocracy, the main character is classified as increasingly average, but they still find a way to make him worthy of our support. Roger, on the other hand, would rather blend in with the crowd and avoid all attention, but the story doesn’t let him.

For such a unique aesthetic, Metropia fails to bring the second-most important part of a film. We are given a distinct lack in climax and strong story, so Metropia just falls flat.

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