DVD Review – Metro Manila (2013)

Directed and written by Sean Ellis it’s not too difficult to see why this film has earned itself quite a few accolades and awards including a prestigious Sundance win in the category of “Audience Award: World Dramatic” this film was also selected as the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

The first thing I noticed about Metro Manila was its stunning locations and beautiful backdrop landscapes of the Philippines, I was thinking early on this was just going to be your typical social poverty, but it really kicks in the action scenes are well shot and it’s soft and emotionally connective when necessary, trying to compare it all that comes to mind is Nimród Antal’s Armored (2009).

Having seen one of Ellis’s films before Cashback (2006) there is some vaguely similar camera work and editing styles, but this film is so much better its ability to hold suspense and to keep connected, the plot twist isn’t really that surprising but nevertheless it still keeps you intrigued. Metro Manila combines so many different formats into one film i.e. Crime, Drama, Action Impoverishment,  Adversity and Exploitation they have all been done numerous times and are worn out as tidy as this film is.

Ellis’s writing is strong and fluent which is superb considering he has written this film for a foreign language yet manages to not be stereotypical or condescending but hit the right tone. Even though it’s an independent film and I shouldn’t expect perfection I do have criticism’s there are often filler cutaways which I think are unnecessary and if not pivotal to the story why have them so consistently. I noticed a lot of close ups but really intensified ones to a point where everything is out of focus and it’s just a bit over used, but my big criticism is I feel the last 20 minutes are a little too rushed and it’s just “tie off all of the loose ends” period.

Overall I think Metro Manila is a drama that becomes a thriller with a relatively seamless transition, a great natural cast, strong and fluent writing by Ellis who has a superb eye for detail and an inspiring creative style with stunning landscape’s and creative camera work/editing which will keep people engrossed and entertained for a enjoyable (should be cinematic) experience.


Gav Tones

Crime, Drama
Rating: 15
DVD Release Date:
10th March 2014 (UK)
Sean Ellis
Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega, John Arcilla
Buy:Metro Manila [DVD] or Metro Manila [Blu-ray] [Amazon]