Metropolis (Anime) (2001)
The latest big budget anime landmark from Japan, based on a set of Manga from the 1940's that is apparently regarded as one of the all time greats. The movie is one of those curious retro-futuristic sci-fi affairs, a picture of a time in the future that was painted some time in the past. The story and the world it is set in seem strikingly contemporary though - don't know how much that is the vision (or influence) of the original manga, and how much is the anime taking liberty. I believe the anime is very close to the manga though, so I assume the former. The basic premise was the imagining of a world in which robots and humans co-exist, but not particularly peacefully. The city of Metropolis is the world's largest centre of technology, but is suffering a lot of social unrest as the poor and the downtrodden wonder where all the money is coming from to keep the city leaders in such luxury. It's a fairly typical sci-fi plot (especially reminiscent of some of Isaac Asimov's stories), but I guess it was ahead of its time in being so.
The movie had a huge budget, and it shows in the visuals. There's an effective mixture of hand-drawn animation and computer generated backdrops that make everything very detailed and fluid. Excellent designs give the whole thing a good atmosphere.
The weakness I found in the movie was the development of the story... part of this may have been because I fell asleep for 10 minutes or so near the start (out all night the night before!), but I think it's mostly that it's just not terribly well paced. The plot leaps forward at several points without giving much attention to why it's doing so, so I was left feeling that it was all a bit random. I guess that everybody who worked on the project was already very familiar with the story, so it was difficult for them to judge if they were telling it in a way the audience would follow... but most of the audience in Japan was probably equally familiar (I believe the Manga really is that famous), so perhaps it's just a problem for the poor foreigners like me who new nothing at all going in!
Overall conclusion - very pretty for sure, but nothing in it that really had a strong impact on me otherwise.