Acorn Media // 2012 // 172 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jason Panella // November 4th, 2012
EXPLORE five of the globe's most populous cities!
A megacity, as BBC journalist Andrew Marr explains, is a metropolis with at least 10 million inhabitants. Megacites are growing at such a rapid pace that, while there are currently only 21 in the world, that number will definitely rise. In Megacities, Marr explores the innovations, issues, and challenges of five such metropolises: Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, and Dhaka.
Each of the three hour-long episodes explores a different topic related to these huge population centers:
* "Living in the City" -- As the populations of megacities continue to rapidly increase, what does this actually mean for the cities' inhabitants? This episode looks at the lives of billionaires in Shanghai and the poor in Dhaka. Marr also shows how population growth has an impact on how cities are structured, and how this affects communities.
* "Cities on the Edge" -- Megacities can be dangerous places. From natural disasters to high levels of crime, there are many threats to the safety of the people who reside within. Andrew Marr investigates how some cities anticipate, deal with, and even head off these threats, including anti-riot training with police in London and letting off steam in Tokyo street races.
* "Sustaining the City" -- An abundance of people means many mouths to feed, and it ain't easy. Marr gets to experience firsthand how difficult it's becoming for cities to deal with waste disposal. We also examine how some megacities find creative ways to get people from one place to another.
Megacities gets into some really fascinating topics, and our host is balanced in how he discusses the issues. Andrew Marr is no mere talking head, either; he's quite amiable, and has no problem experiencing life on the front lines. Within these episodes, Marr spends a night watching rats in Dhaka slums, learns how to avoid kidnappers in Mexico City, bumbles about one of Tokyo's super-efficient (and super-isolating) apartments, and wanders around London's Victorian-era sewers. He's may be kind of a dork, but his sense of humor and willingness to learn from the folks he interviews more than makes up for it.
Keeping the episodes topical in structure makes sense, but also results in some narrative chaos, giving some cities the shaft. Shanghai is barely touched upon, and the only part of Dhaka we get to see are the slums. Of course, as a BBC program, London gets the most focus and serves as an anchor for all of the comparisons.
The standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation looks great, and the Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is clear and easy to understand. The disc only has two real extras: one is unnecessary (the short bio of Marr), the other pretty cool (a 12-page viewer's guide that has some great historical tidbits).
Though it has a few inherent issues, Megacities is an interesting and substantial take on some of the largest and fastest-growing megalopolises in the world.
Review content copyright © 2012 Jason Panella; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 172 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site