Shiny Shelf

Dark Metropolis

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 17 February 2011
‘Dark Metropolis’ is a slickly shot indie sci-fi movie that aims high with its concept. Humanity has lost a 300-year old war to their genetically engineered offshoot called the Ghen. They live above ground as slaves while the Ghen have created an underground haven for their people. An ongoing struggle between the two races forms the political and action undercurrent of the film.

There are a few problems that crop up, namely from the lack of budget (I got a good chuckle out of how the Office of the Potentate looks like a common living room, with curtains and all). Inversely, some sets such as the House of Pryme are well-shot to form the illusion of a wider stage. The film’s prologue also makes the mistake of info-dumping the premise instead of skillfully unveiling it over the course of the film. The acting is on par for most of the film; nothing spectacular, but nothing cringe-worthy. The cinematography is the highlight of the film; whether in cramped quarters or external shots, the film establishes a visually pleasing style early on, beyond what you’d expect for an indie.

And of course, the biggest visual difference between the Ghen and humans is that the Ghen have eyeliner.

‘Dark Metropolis’ attempts to tackle some weighty topics, such as racial cleansing, terrorism, and oppression of human rights. In fact, the movie comes across as a commentary on the Bush-era politics and policies. The movie doesn’t quite have the skill to put it off, and the shorter running time doesn’t help. Part of the problem is that the movie meanders in the middle, never able to decide if it wants to be more of an action thriller or political sci-fi drama. It settles on the latter for most of the movie, but comes off as ponderous. Even the plot-twist regarding one of the main characters comes across as flat, and the ‘Pulp Fiction’-style editing is sloppy.

In the end, ‘Dark Metropolis’ is an interesting film with lofty goals. It wants to be relevant and deep, but only nails the atmosphere. Everything else is material that we’ve seen before and done better elsewhere. That’s not to say that ‘Dark Metropolis’ is without any merit; but its slow pace and lack of strong characters will drain most of your interest by the half. Considering the movie ends on a note of setting things up for a sequel, it’s a tough call as to whether you’d want to return and find out more.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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