Friday, November 11, 2011

Heavy Metal

In Honor of National Metal Day

Directed by Gerald Potterton and screenplay by Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum, Heavy Metal is a collection of animated short films that revolves around a young girl who is frightened by an orb by telling her a collection of stories filled with fantasy and horror. The film is based on various stories written for the Heavy Metal magazine as it revolves into various stories that takes animated films away from the idea of family feature films to much darker and more racy material. With a voice cast that includes John Candy, Harold Ramis, Roger Bumpass, Richard Romanus, August Schellenberg, and Eugene Levy. Heavy Metal is a stylish yet surreal animated film from Gerald Potterton.

An astronaut named Grimaldi (Don Francks) arrives home to see his daughter (Caroline Semple) as he shows her a green orb. Suddenly, the orb lights up and kills Grimaldi as it reveals itself to be the Loc-Nar (Percy Rodriguez) who tells the young girl various different stories before he can destroy her. The first involves a cab driver (Richard Romanus) who accidentally saves a young woman (Susan Roman) from treacherous aliens who want the Loc-Nar orb. Meanwhile, a nerdy teen named Dan (John Candy) gets a version of the Loc-Nar orb as he’s transported into another world as he becomes a buff man named Den who finds himself battling two forces over the Loc-Nar orb.

At a space station, the Loc-Nar arrives at a space station for the trial of a disgraced space captain named Sternn (Eugene Levy) where a witness named Hanover Fiste (Roger Bumpass) finds the Loc-Nar orb as trouble ensues. The Loc-Nar later encounters a B-17 plane in battle as a pilot (George Taouliatos) notices that his crew are dead and the orb has made them into zombies. Meanwhile, a scientist (Roger Bumpass) arrives at the Pentagon to discuss the mysterious events on Earth as he and a buxom secretary (Alice Playten) are taken by a mysterious spacecraft run by a horny robot (John Candy) and two coke-sniffing aliens (Eugene Levy and Harold Ramis). The Loc-Nar then tells the last story about a Taarakian warrior named Taarna who seeks revenge against the death of her people.

The film is about a mysterious yet deadly orb that terrifies a young girl as she is told various different stories about the journey it took before he arrived in this house. During the course of the film, the Loc-Nar orb would tell dark stories of the journey he takes to the people who encounters. Among them is a lowly cab driver in a futuristic yet decayed New York City who encounters the daughter of a scientist who has the orb as he has to deal with aliens that want the orb as it’s told in a film-noir style. Other stories include a nerdy kid that becomes a badass dude who gets to have sex with two hot chicks, a comedic story about a disgraced captain whose plan to cheat in his trial backfires by someone the orb, and a story about a robot and two stoned aliens who take a buxom woman as the robot has sex with her.

A lot of the stories told in the film involves lots of racy nudity and crass humor that isn’t for everyone’s taste but it’s part of the world that director Gerald Potterton manages to create based on this very graphic yet stylish magazine inspired by heavy metal culture. Through these different segments, the narrative does manage to hold together because it is all tied to this orb. There’s elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror that goes into this film as Potterton’s approach to the direction is to keep these sequences together and make sure they’re connected to one another. The animation for many of these segments are all very different as some are cartoonish like the Sternn and robot/two aliens segments while some mix things up for more racy material with a bit of surreal yet gnarly visual animation backdrops. The overall work is truly mesmerizing but also engaging in what is truly an entertaining animated film.

Editors Ian Llande, Mick Manning, and Gerald Trip do a great job with editing to play up to the rhythm of some of the segments as well as making sure each segment can get a smooth transition from one to the other. Production designer Michael C. Gross does a nice job with the set backgrounds created for a majority of the segments in the film while art director Pat Gavin does a lot of the work on the Den segment. Sound editor Peter Thillaye does a wonderful job with the sound to help enhance some of the action that goes on in the stories.

The film’s major technical highlight is the music as it features a bombastic score by Elmer Bernstein that is very adventurous and thrilling as it plays up to a lot of the action sequences of the film. The soundtrack is a wonderful mix of hard rock and metal as it features music from acts like Riggs, Sammy Hagar, Don Felder, Donald Fagen, Journey, Stevie Nicks, Cheap Trick, Devo, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Grand Funk Railroad, Trust, and Nazareth. The overall score and soundtrack is truly a must-have for fans of hard rock.

The cast for the film consists largely of Canadian actors, some of which were from the SCTV show as voices by its regulars like John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Harold Ramis all provide the right humor to the various characters they play along with additional voice work from Jackie Burroughs, August Schellenberg, John Vernon, Joe Flahtery, and revered voice actor Roger Bumpass.

Heavy Metal is a phenomenal yet exhilarating animated film by Gerald Potterton. It is a film that is proof that animated films don’t have to be squeaky clean to be entertain while delving into various genres to excite those that live for sci-fi and fantasy. Particularly for any young teenage boy that wants to naked breasts shown in animated film as this film has everything that a teenage boy wants in a film. In the end, Heavy Metal is an awesome film that has lots of great action, cool scenery, trippy visuals, and most of all, major boobage.

© thevoid99 2011

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