Heavy Metal 4K review by Bobby Blakey
Now days its not as uncommon to come across some animated show or feature that is geared towards older audiences. In 1981 the film Heavy Metal based on the magazine of the same name looked to bring something fresh and new, adult, violent and living up to its title with Ivan Reitman producing and a team of directors bringing the Anthology to animated life. The film features a great voice cast including John Candy, Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus, Rodger Bumpass, Eugene Levy and so many more. As if that wasn’t enough it brought a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust. Could this now cult favorite stand the test of time or should we have left the green orb in space?
Heavy Metal follows an astronaut who brings home a glowing green orb for his daughter. Claiming to embody ultimate evil, the malevolent sphere, known as the Loc-Nar, terrorizes the little girl by showing a series of bizarre and fantastic stories it has influenced. The first is "Harry Canyon", a cynical taxi driver in a squalid futuristic New York who finds himself involved with a damsel in distress who is relentlessly pursued by murderous thugs who desire
the Loc-Nar her archaeologist father found. The second is "Den", which chronicles the adventures of a nerdish teenager who is thrown into the fantasy world of Neverwhere, where he is transformed into a handsome muscleman, desired by beautiful women, who must get involved in a conflict revolving around possession of the Loc-Nar. The third is "Captain Sternn", where the title character is a handsome but irredeemable scoundrel who stands accused in a trial that the Loc-Nar throws into chaos. The fourth is "B-17", where a World War II bomber plane limps home after a bombing run, only to have the Loc-Nar ram into it and revive the dead crew members as murderous zombies. The next is "So Beautiful, So Dangerous", where a voluptuous secretary at the Pentagon is abducted by stoned alien wastrels and an oversexed robot. The final story is "Taarna", where the Loc-Nar has to come to a future Earth and changes a peaceful people into a horde of murderous barbarians who rampage with genocidal zeal. Only the last Tarrakian, a silent warrior woman known as Taarna, can avenge the victims and stop the Loc-Nar.
I used to watch this film all the time after discovering it for the first time as a child. Obviously it was a film I wasn’t supposed to be seeing with all the sex, nudity and violence, but I was so shocked by a cartoon showing those kinds of things I couldn’t turn away. Over time I appreciated what they did with the film and grew to love it more for much different reasons, but after my VHS copy took the video death I hadn’t revisited it since. I was curious to how well it would still hold up after all this time and I have to say I am even more impressed by it than ever before. The stories are all excellent even if they are sometimes all over the place. The animation is great with some using the rotoscope style which is always a bonus. I love all the unique visions with each tale and how well they captured the essence of some of the source material and artists such as the late Moebius and Bernie Wrightson. It truly feels like the magazine come to life and delivers everything you could want and then some.
The music alone is its own character and plays up to perfection with each story and just brings that extra special something to keep it standing out all its own. Bringing this great music and the unique visions together created a film that took a while before it got the appreciation it deserved, but so worth getting the 4K version to see in all its glory.
In addition to the iconic classic this set also includes the follow-up film from 2000 aptly titled Heavy Metal 2000. This new entry was actually based on the graphic novel The Melting Pot by Kevin Eastman, Simon Bisley and Eric Talbot. The feature features the voice talents of Michael Ironside, Billy Idol and the late Julie Strain. Kevin Eastman owned the rights of Heavy Metal at this point and was married to Strain so it was the perfect idea to try and bring them all together.
Heavy Metal 2000 follows a malevolent race called the Arakacians who discover a place where space-time leaked an immortality water. The Arakacians conquered the known universe for centuries, and were finally vanquished after the fountain chamber was sealed by freedom fighters. Upon discovery of a shard of the Loc-Nar (the evil orb from the original movie), a miner named Tyler becomes possessed by an insatiable hunger for power and a thirst for immortality. On his way to a planet which has the immortality fountain, Tyler makes a brief stop on F.A.K.K.² (Federation-Assigned Ketogenic Killzone) because its inhabitants carry some immortality water in their bodies. Tyler invades the space colony, wipes out most of the inhabitants, and kidnaps a beautiful woman named Kerrie. Enraged by Tyler's careless rampage, Kerrie's beautiful sister Julie vows to avenge her family and wipe out Tyler before he reaches the fountain.
While its fine for what it is it nowhere near lives up to anything they did with the original film. It is a straight forward sci-fi action animated feature and has its moments, but as a whole never really delivers anything overly memorable. I admit that I enjoyed it a bit more now than I did when it came out, but following the original it will always be an uphill climb. Thankfully it stands as its own thing so in no way really affects what the previous film did and has its places for its own fans.
This release not only offers up both films with only the original film in 4K, but also bonus content for them both including deleted scene, commentary, animation tests, featurettes and so much more. Return to the crazy violent and sexual world of Heavy Metal available now on 4K Ultra for the first time ever from Sony Home Entertainment.