(On DVD, May 2003) Slow-paced, often-unsubtle, ordinary story of human/robot strife, technological arrogance and Really Big Buildings. Two private detective come to Metropolis to investigate the whereabouts of a mad scientist, but it turns out that their investigation ties into a secret project, generational conflicts and class warfare. The quality of the animation in this version of Metropolis (no ties at all to the Fritz Lang version) is emblematic of the rest of the film. Hard-edged, spectacular computer-generated backgrounds clash with hand-drawn, quasi-juvenile characters. The whole film certainly feels like that, dealing with big complex issues such as the fallacy of human progress, but watering down everything with a helping of plotting that wouldn’t be out of place in simplistic Saturday Morning kid’s shows. Admittedly, some scenes are spectacular: The unveiling of the city is suitably impressive, but not more so than it’s inevitable destruction. (With a Strangelovian “I Can’t Stop Loving You” playing in the background) The DVD help to make sense of it all, as the film is revealed to be an adaptation of a 1950s-era manga, which goes a long way to explain the nifty jazz music and the sometimes-naive feel. Interviews with the filmmakers feel remarkably candid as they admit that the creator of the original comic book probably wouldn’t have agreed to their adaptation.