Metropia (2009)

Animation, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgård
In the near future, oil reserves are nearly depleted and Europe is connected by series of underground tunnels...
  • 27 Nov 2009 Released:
  • 16 Nov 2010 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:


Memorable visuals right up to the end; failure to generate suspense or build to a strong climax7/10
Tarik Saleh, who made Metropia, is a Turkish graffiti artist living in Sweden and who made an effective 2005 documentary on Guantanamo interrogation techniques called Gitmo. Now he's turned to Orwellian sci-fi, with nods to Kafka and Hitchcock. The opening text of his gray, photo-realistic animated dystopia, which premiered at Venice and was shown at the London Film Festival, reads: The end of the millennium marked the end of many things. Natural resources dried up, the global financial markets crashed and the crisis that connected the fate of all people, still left the individual isolated in his ruin. It's 2024. We're in Sweden. Oil has run out, hence the construction of "Metropia," a new pan-European subway system. This computer animated film is built up out of actual photos using real people's faces and things. Everything is somber and dark and murky and grayish blue, but hey, it's Sweden; and there's a kind of beauty in the drabness, at least at first; visuals are not the weak point of this film. Where it bogs down is in its meandering and ultimately uninteresting plot.

Protagonist Robert (sensitively voiced by Vincent Gallo) is a dull call-center worker whose expressionless face and big soulful Keane eyes exude a preternatural calm; or is there massive Valium in the water system? After Roger starts hearing Big Brother (actually Stellan Skarsgard) talking in his head and responds by following pert, tough-talking Nina (a cold, slinky-voiced Juliette Lewis), which leads him into a meeting of gangsterish world leaders and their overlord, Ivan Bahn (the naturally ghoulish Udo Kier), head of the Trexx Corporation, which owns everything and is pushing an ominous (?) shampoo, whose ads feature Nina. The in-your-head talkers turn out to be nice lookalikes who take coffee breaks and have their own job insecurities. But somebody is plotting with Nina. Yes, this is one of those worlds where paranoia seems justified; but the dangers don't seem very imminent. This computer-animated photo-based animated film starts out promisingly and has an appealing (if transcendently drab) look with memorable visuals right up to the end, but the nearly-comatose quality of the main characters and the failure to generate suspense or build to a strong climax leads to a ho-him final feel.

Seen as one of three features in the San Francisco Film Society's 4th Annual Animation Festival in November 2009, this film was part of the London Film Festival in October. Metropia has been nominated for several prizes. It won the Future Film Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival and is slated for theatrical release in Sweden December 27, 2009. It is a production of Atmo Films.
Realistic animated movie for 1984 genre fans8/10
It's a story somewhere in the lines of 1984. Dystopian is a genre in itself and it's part of the New World Order conspiracy which has been the theme of many cinema and literature since the 50ies. So yes the core of the story is an old one and all has to come from the graphics, characters and small storyline differences.

In that aspect it's not a masterpiece but it is surely nothing to sneeze at. The animation is very okay. The characters are very average human beings which makes them easy to relate to and likable. The fact that the story is not completely new is not disturbing. Very much worth watching.
Simple but fascinating7/10
Take a trip to Europe in the year 2024. This is a dark age, where the automobile is no longer in use, replaced by a cross country subway system. The most popular product on the market (in fact pretty much the only item) is a shampoo manufactured with a secret mind controlling chemical, which the major corporations use to monitor the public in George Orwell fashion.

In an age where animation can do anything, the decision to do almost nothing certainly stands out in film. Metropia is without doubt the bleakest animated feature I know; a murky institutional world, without a drop of color or sunshine, and everywhere we go is under lit. This makes enough sense when taking into account that this is a future where society is low on energy.

Not everything however feels credible. The absence of people in great numbers is unusual. The few people who do wander in and out of frame are almost hollow shells. They have no soul, but more importantly they have no movement. Metropia uses the least amount of energy possible to give life to illustrations. To attempt to describe it is not impossible, but it's something that is better off seen for ones self. Metropia is a haunting experience. It's almost a ghost world, not just from the absence of sight, but from the absence of sound. Metropia makes effective use of silence in all the right places, accompanied by an effective, very new age score.

As for the storyline, it is familiar, but not painfully so. It's similar to Brazil, which itself is the product of George Orwell's influence. The climax here feels a bit rushed, and easy, leaving Metropia a bit shorter than I think it should've been, but it remains an entertaining experiment.
Worthy Of A Single Viewing7/10
Metropia gives us a story taking place in a world that's destroyed and chaotic, similar to the game Metro 2033, and Andrey Tarkovskiy's film Stalker. Bleak two dimensional tones displaying a post apocalyptic world, ruins of what was once a functioning society, underground tunnels connecting the last few functioning societies and the occasional shard of color all keep the viewer engaged in Metropia's story of exploration and discovery. Straight from Swedish minds, the animation style is unlike anything you've ever seen before, with a style resembling rotoscoping mixed with cut out collage stop motion art. Characters are wide eyed, as if their eyes have been peeled open, motions are slow paced, as if mirroring natures recovery in such an aftermath, and were given a sense of collusion, as if everything is being watched closely by a big brother type figure.

Leaving behind his home of Stockholm, Roger embarks on a journey through underground tunnels to decode the voices in his head and find a super model by the name of Nina. Not before long, Roger comes into contact with Nina, who appears as a run down, make-up smeared slut. We also see the caption, "Listen To Your Inner Voices", on billboards, pop culture objects and even as a voice in Rogers own head throughout his journey underground. Soon Roger learns that these persuasive voices are not his own and that a greater, all controlling conspiracy which materializes from Shampoo is actually controlling the entire world. Joining up with Nina, they venture into the core of this all-controlling force, while fighting off the controlling voices in their heads.

Metropia may have a cool animation style never seen before outside of video game art, but it's uneventful story and poor voice acting makes for a mostly forgettable film. There are films that thrive from powerful story and acting, but aren't visually memorable, and then there are films that thrive from unique style and animation, but suffer from no story, or spirit. Metropia falls in between, with just enough story and adventure to keep you watching and a unique animation style that's new and fresh. Metropia is worthy of a single viewing.

-SiilentMiike (
Originality in animation, if not in story...7/10
I just screened this in advance of its showing at the San Francisco International Animation Festival. It's an interesting film, more for its technique than its narrative. Set in the not-to-distant future in a VERY bleak world, it tells the story of one man's fight against an evil corporation's machinations. Nothing really new narrative-wise, but the plot really isn't the point of this film. It's the animation. The process uses photomontage as its basis, and is quite creepy in its execution. The voice work is well done, and it's always good to see/hear cult film fave Udo Kier. If you enjoyed "1984" or "Brazil," you might want to check this film out.