Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Heavy Metal |
+ Digital Copy
Actors: Richard Romanus, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Rodger Bumpass, Jackie Burroughs
Director: Gerald Potterton
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy
As long as there is a need for adolescent male sexual fantasy, there will be an audience for Heavy Metal. Released in 1981 and based on stories from the graphic magazine of the same name (possibly the greatest publication... more »
Classic animation, with a hard rockin soundtrack
Christopher A. Richards | Somewhere Over The Rainbow | 10/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't believe the number of negative reviews this movie has gotten! I bet these people don't like James Bond movies, either. To fully appreciate Heavy Metal, one has to understand the era it came out in. At the time, most animation, at least what was seen in the US, was frequently of the "family entertainment" variety seen in Saturday morning cartoons and TV commercials. Apart from Ralph Bakshi, most animators were basically shackled by the need to present something that was "rated G". Heavy Metal took the exact opposite route. It was a liberating experience for the animators working on the film to be allowed to draw things they usually weren't allowed. And they got paid to do it, too! After the opening Soft Landing sequence, we're introduced to the Loc-Nar, a glowing green orb responsible for all the evil that has plagued the universe (or at least, that which has plagued the human race). The various stories contained in the film are told by the Loc-Nar to a young girl, as examples of it's awesome power. The stories include the film noir homage Harry Canyon, the male "wish fulfillment fantasy" of Den (which demonstrates the versatility of the late John Candy, who voices both Dan, the science nerd who gets transported into an alternate dimension by the Loc-Nar, as well as Den, the Conan/He-Man-esque beefcake that he is magically transformed into), the highly amusing Captain Sternn (trivia: the voice of the prosecutor is done by John Vernon, the actor who portrayed Dean Wormer in Animal House), the EC-esque B-17 (aka Gremlins, which went through so many script revisions, it's a miracle it got finished at all), the bizarrely hilarious So Beautiful And So Dangerous (ok, maybe there's some truth to the juvenilia charges during this segment, but only a corpse could keep from laughing at this piece), and revenge scenario of Taarna (imagine a tougher, sexier version of Xena, only about a decade and a half earlier). While there IS some element of juvenilia here, it's no worse than any other movie that's been released by any major studio during the last 25 years. In fact, I bet it's a little more cerebral than most of those other movies. Harry Canyon is a rather crafted film noir homage, while some elements of Taarna are clearly patterned on Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. And while there are a couple sex scenes and a certain amount of excessive violince in Heavy Metal, again, it's nothing compared to some of the garbage that's shown on cable TV these days. I'd certainly rather watch this than Basic Instinct or No Way Out. This movie is a classic piece of animation. Yeah, some of it's rough around the edges, but that has a lot to do with Columbia's decision to move up the deadline so they could have the original movie out in time for the summer 81 season. One has to consider the scope of the undertaking, and the relatively short time that was at hand to create it. Look at the "travelling sequence" during Taarna, where she's shown riding her mount (a sort of large bird creature) over a rolling landscape, and consider that it was done WITHOUT the use of any kind of computer generated work. It's explained in the audio commentary on the rough cut of the film, as well as during the documentary how it was done, and why it didn't quite turn out as planned). No one had ever done anything like that, and it had to all be done by hand. Really, you can't take this movie too seriously. It's a movie that exists soley to entertain. There's no big message or point to the movie. Just put the DVD in the player, turn out the lights, turn up the volume LOUD, and just enjoy the trip. It should be noted, that this disc also contains some of the best bonus features I've seen on any DVD. Besides the regular movie, you get a full length "rough cut" of the film, consisting of storyboards, pencil tests, and some completed animation. The only audio for this rough cut (besides the optional audio commentary, by Carl Macek, who also does a completely different commentary for the finished movie) is the dialog. There's long stretches of silence, but it's worth watching, as there's lots of bits of dialog that were cut from the final movie (we learn, for instance, that Katharine, like Den, was also transformed when she was transported to this mysterious alternate universe). It's also interesting to note that the stories weren't always in the order that they were in the final movie. There's also a half hour documentary with interviews from many of the filmmakers involved in making the film. We finally find out why we see a model of a house blowing up at the end (because they didn't have time to finish the animation for that one bit), and also why Cornelius Cole's Neverwhere Land was cut from the movie (either for reasons of length/continuity, or because Cole didn't finish it in time, depending on exactly which version of the story you wish to believe. You also get a few minutes of deleted scenes, most notably the above mentioned Neverwhere Land, which was originally supposed to link Captain Sternn and B-17. There's also a few minutes that surround an early version of the framing story (in whence the Loc-Nar was actually the power source of a magical merry-go-round, and the various objects on the merry-go-round related in one way to the stories...ie, there's a taxicab, Taarna's mount, etc...each time the girl takes a ride in a different vehicle on the merry-go-round, she experiences a different story). And finally, you get all Heavy Metal covers up through 1999, plus various bits of production drawings, cels, etc. In short, this is a classic film that should be viewed by all fans of animation and/or heavy flicks. Prudes and conservatives who get cranky at the very thought of a movie being ruined by a little too much flesh or blood (and really, there isn't THAT much of either in this film) or a little warped humor (ok, there's PLENTY of that here) are advised to keep away. I just wish they had restored Neverwhere Land to it's original place between Captain Sternn and B-17."
Cult Classic HEAVY METAL Not a Clunker
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 06/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some critics and film historians have labeled 1981's HEAVY METAL as the last film to genuinely reflect the mishmash sensibilities of the post-hippy 1970s counter-culture, and stylistically and thematically this appears to be true. Based on the adult counter-culture cult comic of the same name, HEAVY METAL definitely is a sort of spacey concatenation of disparate visual aesthetics and heterogeneous science-fiction/fantasy narratives. But despite being a hodgepodge as a whole, the film still manages to offer a very entertaining way to kill 90 minutes.As with the magazine, the film is basically aimed at horny male adolescents, offering plenty of nude, amply bosomed women running around in the midst of stylized violence and gore; lots of rock music (though these ditties from popular metal bands of the late '70s may not appeal to the current generation of horny male adolescents); and references to the drug-oriented sub-culture (definitely not a cartoon for the pre-teen crowd). Each individual segment of HEAVY METAL was scripted and directed independently of the others, which likely accounts for the varying aesthetic and narrative styles. But many of these contributors were (and are now) some of the most talented people in the film industry, including writers Dan O'Bannon, Len Blum, and Daniel Goldberg, and directors John Bruno, John Halas, and Jimmy T. Murikami. (Gerald Potterton, listed in the credits as the film's director, was in reality the overseer for the project as a whole.)Because the film does not contain a single cohesive plotline, it is best to evaluate each animated segment in its own right. Some of those individual stories are quite thought-provoking or humorous--or both--and even some of the more mediocre segments still offer some fantastic visuals. One of the most intellectually interesting is a story called DEN, in which a young bespectacled geek is transported into a parallel universe and transformed into a handsome, muscled barbarian hero. After falling in love with a curvaceous maiden, he helps her save her people from their draconian Caligula-like dictator. B-17 is probably the most earnest segment, though there seems to be no intrinsic logic to the sparse narrative. In it, the dead crewmembers of a WWII bomber plane are inexplicably resurrected as flesh-eating zombies, subsequently seeking to make a meal of the plane's still-living pilot. Visually, however, this segment is quite stunning, evoking the deliciously gruesome artistic style of the old E.C. comics of the '50s and early '60s. And in the funniest segment--entitled SO BEAUTIFUL, SO DANGEROUS--a gorgeous Pentagon secretary is inadvertently sucked into an alien spaceship that resembles a huge smiley face. After confronting the spaced-out druggie crewmembers, she ultimately becomes the lover of the ship's robot and decides to remain aboard.After its initial release, HEAVY METAL attained a cult following of sorts and became a favorite of the midnight-movie crowd. Unfortunately, its release to the home-video market was delayed for years due to disputes over copyrights for some of the rock songs used in the soundtrack. Because of this, poorly produced bootlegged copies of the flick were illegally sold (usually at Sci-fi cons) and swapped among fans, and the inferior video quality contributed to the film's unfair reputation for being a mediocre film. But the music disputes were eventually resolved somehow, and the film became commercially available to the home market in the mid 1990s and regained its popularity as a cool cartoon. (Some statistics indicate that it is the most popular film in the Columbia/Tristar home-video catalog.)Columbia/Tristar's Special-Edition DVD of HEAVY METAL offers a beautiful digital transfer of the film and soundtrack, along with some really cool bounus material. For animation fans, one of the best of the bonus features is a fascinating feature-length pencil-test version of the film (with optional commentary). Columbia/Tristar also offers a version of the HEAVY METAL in their SuperBit collection, but as with their other SuperBit films, the disc space required for the higher bit rate precludes the inclusion of any bonus material. Unless the buyer has a high-definition TV and can appreciate the increased picture quality of the SuperBit disc, the Special-Edition version is the way to go. Either way, HEAVY METAL offers enough entertainment value to make it a worthy addition to the DVD collection of any SF or animation fan."
The DVD greatly improves upon the original movie
M. J KILLEEN | Collingdale, PA USA | 02/05/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those great DVDs with so many Special Features, you could spend days viewing them all. Most interesting is a feature-length 'rough cut' of the entire film with running commentary throughout. The rough-cut -- a combination of rough pencil animation and rare sketches -- even contains some deleted scenes. Best of all, there is a Heavy Metal Magazine cover (and back cover) gallery. In addition to being a nice showcase for some beautiful artwork, this section will really bring back memories for anyone who grew up with the magazine in the late 70s and 80s. Of course, the film itself never looked or sounded better than on DVD. The film itself was a nice attempt at capturing the spirit of the magazine -- it isn't a complete success, but a very noble effort in animation considering it was released in 1981!"
Definitely represents its roots well
SRFireside | Houston, TX United States | 01/23/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the 70's a sci-fi/fantasy anthology comic book geared toward adults was published in the United States. This book was called Heavy Metal and it's still going strong today. Most of the stories are science fiction and delve into some pretty strange ideas. The movie was made to in a way showcase the talent that came from the most popular artists and writers of that magazine. There was some up and coming Canadian talent doing the voice work like John Candy and Eugene Levy. While the idea sounds cool enough I think the execution leaves a little bit to be desired. This movie feels like it was a rush job considering some inconsistent production values and even some of the story content. Since it is an anthology of multiple stories I will go down the line so you can get an idea where the quality lies and where it falls short.
Soft Landing - This is the opening sequence that comes with the opening credits and it's the only story that connects itself to another story in the movie. The animation is a rough rotoscope technique that has only a wash of paint over real footage. I like how they did it. Very artistic. I have to admit it is a perfect representation of the magazine with its off the wall content and nice design. The hard rock soundtrack feel appropriate in this segment too. It's short, but it sure does make quite a good impression.
Grimaldi - This is the story Soft Landing connects itself to and it sets the stage for the theme that supposedly connects the other stories together. It's a weak way to put the anthology together at best. Still it does give the movie something to put the wildly different stories together. The animation is not bad and it can get a little gruesome at times. Again this is a short story since all it does it introduce the Loc Nar. You will see this segment between girl and Loc Nar throughout the movie to help keep the plotline going in the right direction in your mind... if you want to call it a plot.
Harry Canyan - This is the story of a New York taxi driver in the year 2031. The script has a classic film noir sense to it that adds some charm to this piece. I hear this story inspired parts of The Fifth Element so that's kind of cool. This story is classic Heavy Metal. The look of the cityscape and stuff reminds me of the graphic novel Hard Boiled as well as work from the artist Moebius. The animation looks like it's at an atrocious 12 frames per second (or less), which kills the coolness of the artwork sometimes. This one probably has the worst soundtrack of all the stories. The rock music just doesn't fit at all. This one is not really bad, but there is plenty to keep it from being really good.
Den - This is another classic Heavy Metal type story and it is a funny one. It's a Richard Corben styled story and I guess you can call it every geek boy's fantasy since the star (John Candy) is an 18 yr old nerd who turns into a muscular barbarian hero that always gets the girl. They play that theme up to the hilt with some funny narration by Candy, who is great in this one. This adventure/comedy has a little more story depth than the previous stories but the animation is still choppy. The soundtrack it a good classic fantasy styled piece that works well with this one. Even though the animation (again not the art, which is nice) leaves a lot to be desired the enjoyable story and funny dialog make up for it and make this story one of the better ones.
Captain Sternn - This come straight from a character created by Bernie Wrightson that was quite popular in the Heavy Metal magazine. Sternn is an anti-hero in the magazine and in the movie he is now being brought up on charges for his evil deeds (fans of the mag back then must have loved the irony of this). The animation has a more cartoonish feel to it and does't try to make the characters all that realistic like the other short films in this movie. However the animation is LOT cleaner here and I wished the rest of the stories were this polished. The story itself is entertaining as well, but ultimately it's all just one big build up for a wacky yet funny punch line at the end. Amusing enough, but it won't carry the movie.
B-17 - This is the scariest of the bunch. A classic horror film created by renowned horror comic artist Mike Ploog. The story lends itself to being scary folklore to frighten WWII pilots or something like that and it pulls it off very well. Artistically it's eerie and has a classic 40's feel to the drawings and the animation seems to be a lot better. Some of the artwork does get limited by the fact it's an animated story, but that only lends more to the style. This is one of the definite shining gems of the movie.
So Beautiful and So Dangerous - This can be called Cheech and Chong in space. It's a mix of sophomoric drug humor, interpersonal relationships with robots, and universal perspective. The stoner aliens didn't do it for me at all. Then again that is a certain kind of humor not everybody gets into. The interaction between the Pentagon secretary and robot is pretty funny for adult humor. Again John Candy brings a lot of fun in his role as the robot. What I found interesting was the size comparisons they played with in this short. You have a ship many times larger than the Pentagon controlled by a robot and two half-baked aliens, which docks with an even more massive space station. The animation is on par with the better stuff in this movie, but the soundtrack is yet another hard rock throwaway that doesn't do anything to enhance the story. Ultimately this one is merely okay in my book. Nothing special.
Tarrna - This story is the best of the best in this anthology. Nothing compares to it in cinematic execution, which is probably why they saved it for last. The animation is still a relatively low frame rate (by Disney's standards) but there is a lot of rotoscoping done that makes those frames very effective and very beautiful. The soundtrack fits the short film better than any music did on the previous stories. The story is the best of the bunch too. The settings are cool with the futuristic wasteland. The designs are definitely a Moebius influence with some breathtaking landscapes and wild technology scattered about. Of course this story also resolves the plot devised that started the whole movie to begin with so everything is tied up nice and neat. If the other short films (aside from B-17) put this much attention in the execution of their perspective works then you would have a much better movie all around.
Heavy Metal did accomplish what it set out to do in that it showcased the magazine in a time when it was at its highest in popularity. For the non-Heavy Metal Magazine fan it's not as good. Keep in mind the content has lots of blatant animated nudity, sexual situations and graphic violence, Definitely not for the kids. The stories are interesting enough, but that might not be enough for some who expect quality production values all the way through. If you're a fan of the comic book then you probably already seen it and love it. If you are the type of person who jams to classic rock and have that biker rebel streak in you then you might find Heavy Metal refreshing. The rest of you will have to just make a judgment call. It has equal parts good and bad qualities so take that for whatever you see it."