Detropia Reviews

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The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2012
Detroit's woes are well known by anyone who pays half-attention to the news. And any red-blooded American is rooting for the revitalization and rebirth of this once-powerful city. The stark contrast of what this city once was and what it has become is the dark side of the American Dream.

Therefore Detroit has proven itself to be more than worthy to be a powerful subject for a documentary. Its struggles beg to be documented and told through the lens of an insightful and thought-provoking filmmaker. That's why "Detropia"'s lack of impact is such a surprise.

Filmed with a feathery touch and told through an arthouse-lens, "Detropia" doesn't cover any new ground. Fans of beautiful cinematography and stylish storytelling will enjoy "Detropia" but if you are looking to learn new things about Detroit or to really feel and understand the true struggles of this once amazing and now dying city, don't bother going to "Detropia".
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2012
"Detropia" is an eye-opening case study of late model capitalism, as the middle class has all but ceased to exist in Detroit. The documentary contrasts the success of Detroit's past with its present lying in ruins and possible bankruptcy with a rapidly decreasing population that currently resides at about 713,000. About the only available jobs involve demolition and salvage, as Mayor Dave Bing remarks that even if people get a good job, they just might be saving enough to move away, anyway. What's striking here is the film also being as interested in the visual side of the equation, exemplified by a sudden cut from an old advertisement showing the shiny highways of the future to a stray dog out in the middle of a street.

What of Detroit's future, if it has one? Mayor Bing has a radical proposal to consolidate the still viable neighborhoods to save on services, including mass transportation, which are in danger of being cut even more. While all of that is going on, the documentary follows a vlogger, a bar owner and a union president who do what they can for their city.(The documentary is dedicated to such civic minded individuals.) This also gives the documentary a street level view of events. What's also interesting and possible optimistic about the 2010 census is that it reported a 59% increase in young people moving downtown, some of whom are artists drawn to cheap housing. In conclusion, the documentary sees more hope in the arts than in the white elephant of sports which is pretty much ignored here since they are probably more of interest to surburbanites.
JC
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2012
No new ground covered in this doc about the demise of Detroit...cue shots of the Ren Cen at dusk with the GM logo ablaze, despairing statistics and the urban porn star - the ubiquitous and spooky Detroit Central train station. Clueless residents, a union president and an irritating video blogger serve as the narrative to the Motor City meltdown that would have been better served with just one voice. No solutions are offered so what is the use...perhaps as an national cautionary tale? (9-29-12)
½ October 19, 2013
In light of my upcoming trip to Detroit, I thought I'd educate myself a little on the current situation there. This is a heartbreaking documentary that details the struggles of the once great city's residents and their will to see the city brought back to its glory days. While the documentary focuses on the deterioration of Detroit, the viewer can't help but wonder if this could happen anywhere else in America.

On Netflix now. Check it out, nerds!
April 15, 2013
So damn eerie. Watching this, Detroit doesn't even seem like a modern-day American city. It feels like this weird, disconnected dystopian society. It's almost hard to believe that it's a real place that exists in the same country I live in. Many of the people there seem to be hanging on by threads. It's especially astounding considering it used to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. Really a riveting watch.
January 22, 2013
I never know how to review documentaries that are topic-based rather than story-based, so this is going to be a short wrap-up. This material felt very scattered, jumping from story to story without any actual bridge between them, sometimes drastically switching subjects in a way that made you think it was supposed to be connected to the previous story when it really wasn't. On top of that, I just had great difficulty finding it interesting. I don't particularly care for politics/economics stories in fiction and, as important as the topics are overall, I'm extremely bored by them in documentaries as well. 
½ January 20, 2013
Detropia focuses on several overdone themes of what plagues Detroit. There isn't a lot of new ground broken here, and most of the typical narratives were better covered in the Detroit In Overdrive series on Discovery. The one thing it does succeed at is the honesty of our situation in the global market. There are some bright spots covered (the affordability factor, new jobs, potential population growth), but not a lot of exploration into potential long term solutions for Detroit, or for the nation as a whole. It simply seems to accept that we're heading to a forked road where the only paths seems to be: accept an inevitable loss of living standard or violent civil unrest.
January 16, 2013
Detropia could be a beautiful love letter to the city of Detroit as if follows a few natives across the city with them professing their love of the once thriving metropolis if it weren't so heartbreakingly sad seeing the decline of one of America's great cities. In the 1930's, Detroit was the "fastest growing city in the WORLD" because of the jobs offered by the booming industrial centers of the area ... but as manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas in record numbers the past 30 years Detroit has fallen on hard times. I remember travelling to the bustling city in the early 1980s when my aunt was employed with GM and thinking it was a spectacular place -- busy and full of life. When I flew into Detroit three years ago, just seeing it from the sky told me it was no longer that once lively location. It was so very sad. Documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp -- see this!!!) have taken on a very broad topic with this documentary and it does feel un-even. What made Detroit great wasn't just one thing ... and as the greatness of the city had many facets it is too difficult for these two to capture a clear-clear message of what they are wanting to say -- unless it is simply "Detroit was once great!" Those followed in the film are clearly proud of their home and city -- as they should be. Many things happened there ... some of them also make a startling claim/revelation that Detroit appears to be much like America as a whole. They assert that we all need to wake up or the entire nation could follow the path of Detroit. I agree ... we are GIVING away too much so that a very few can have very large bank accounts at the cost of American livelihood. Detroit could arguably be called the "birthplace of the American middle class" ... and without a middle class to buffer between oh-so-very rich and the lamentably poor our nation could be headed for disaster.
½ December 6, 2014
Eye rollingly pretentious at times, disjointed and politically inflected, yet at the same time heartbreaking and sobering Detropia is not a great documentary but a good insight into the challenges of post-fordist rust belt America.
½ March 30, 2013
Documentário sobre uma cidade que cresceu e encolheu rapidamente devido à flutuação da indústria automotiva. Interessante o esforços dos cidadãos em continuar vivendo na cidade, apesar da economia quebrada, criminalidade e abandono do poder público.
October 4, 2013
Wow, poor Detroit - once a thriving megapolis and now bankrupt, didn't see that coming.
September 22, 2013
Flawed but with some good content.
½ August 6, 2013
I kinda wanna move to Detroit now.
½ July 3, 2013
Detropia is a truly haunting documentary about the end of an era. This film shows the despair but also the fight that still exists in those that love their great city.
½ July 14, 2013
It was entertaining and well done but didn't reveal any shocking info or solution for Detroit.
½ September 13, 2012
A thought-provoking and well-made documentary that unfortunately didn't offer any real solutions to the issues raised.
August 19, 2012
Everyone in the USA needs to see this movie. Not a whole lot of information, but what it lacks there it makes up for in emotion and soul.
June 24, 2013
Sounds cooler than it actually is, but to be honest I wasn't really paying attention.
½ May 28, 2013
So sad to see the Detroit of my youth, that exciting, vibrant, "place to be", in such a depressing state. My Mom and I rushed to downtown Detroit, as often as we could, we loved it there. Loved the architecture, the people, the concerts, sports, shopping, the "feel" of what Detroit was. And of course the music! We always thought Detroit was such a trend setter. It was hip before hip hop was invented! Sure hope the trend setting qualities of Detroit don't remain. For if the bankruptcy of Detroit is any indication, then the whole nation is in for quite a slide, down to the pit of destruction. I feel like I'm in mourning, but still, somehow, glad I watched it. It makes me wonder, if this powerhouse could be brought down to its knees, then what's next? Who's favorite city is next to fall in the same pit?
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