A Swedish, animated vision of a dreary future, featuring famous, international actors supplying the voices, how does that sound? This is not the most common type of movie in Sweden. Or anywhere.
Having seen METROPIA, it may stay uncommon.
When I first heard of this movie, read the storyline and saw stills from it, I got suspicious. It made me think of the 1970s. Short, arty-farty comics about gloomy, Orwellesque futures in magazines like Métal Hurlant. The comics that always were boring and depressing. And storywise, we can go even further back to said Orwell and his 1984. We can probably go even further back.
Tarik Saleh has directed after a screenplay written by himself, Stig Larsson (no, not the famous and dead Stieg Larsson), Fredrik Edin and MartinHultman . The year is 2024 and Europe has become a totalitarian state where the countries are connected by a gigantic subway system. Everything is gray and boring. Big, cold buildings; desolated world.
The story’s focus is on Roger from Stockholm suburb Farsta, and voiced by Vincent Gallo. He doesn’t like the subway, and instead he rides a bicycle, although it’s forbidden. He has some problems with his relationship with his girlfriend Anna (SofiaHelin ). One day, Roger runs into the mysterious Nina (Juliette Lewis) who’s the model pictured on a certain shampoo bottle. And at the same time, Roger suddenly hears a voice inside his head. It turns out that all citizens are controlled by other people, hired by powerful corporationTrexx, which is run by Ivan Bahn (Udo Kier). The guy supervising Roger is called Stefan and is voiced by Alexander Skarsgård (the hunk from TRUE BLOOD) – while dad Stellan Skarsgård supplies the voice for Ralph; one ofBahn’s henchmen.
It seems to be up to Nina and the reluctant Roger to stop the society controlled by Trexx.
Storywise, METROPIA is very unoriginal. We’ve seen stories like this countless times before. It’s the usual: Big Brother is watching you, people live in a dead society, and a handful of rebels strike back in a way or another. I’ve nothing against movies where you’ve seen everything before, like the case is with most Westerns and action movies. As long as it’s entertaining. Something METROPIA isn’t.
Esthetically, I’m not pleased with the look of Saleh’s movie. The computer animated movie is made with a new technique developed by a company called Atmo, and in my opinion, they may keep that technique. All of the characters have big heads, midget bodies and seem to suffer from rheumatism. They also insist on moving slightly too slowly. Everybody’s pale as a corpse, they talk a bit sleepy, and the color scheme is so toned down it’s almost monochrome. Personally, I think it looks like hell. Butt ugly. I’m pretty damned sure lots of critics will call this an inventive and brave animation, but I don’t give a damn – it looks like shit!
But what’s even worse about METROPIA, is that it’s boring as hell. It’s pure murder to sit through. The storytelling is as stiff as the animation, it’s pretentious, and I sometimes caught myself thinking of something else while watching the screen.
As I like to say: boring movies are always worse that bad movies. METROPIA is both boring and bad. This is a typical film festival movie. And I’m sure it’s appreciated by people who think you have to like stuff like this – or pretend to like it.
Personally, I think METROPIA should be drawn and quartered in public.
Too bad about cult fave Udo Kier (who’s actually the only man I’ve spanked in public – well, he’s the only man I’ve spanked anywhere).
“News anchor” is misspelled in the end credits.
METROPIA has played a string of prestigious festivals. It opens theatrically in Sweden on November 27. More countries will probably follow. Beware.