Monday, June 15, 2009

Heavy Metal 2000 (USA, 2000)

(Trailer.) Hey, ever hear anything about this movie? No? Well, it's not surprising. Some 19 years after the success of their first movie, Heavy Metal (1981/trailer), the magazine decides to bring out a new movie and manages to do everything wrong that they possibly could. Not that the film is terrible or anything, it just isn't very good. But any film produced by a magazine that specialises in adult-orientated graphic narration (i.e., comics) should be excellent, not just slightly better than passable.
Jettisoning the format of both their magazine and the first film, Heavy Metal 2000 is a feature-length animation based on Simon Bisley's graphic novel The Melting Pot. Narrative structure and plot aside, the strongest aspect of the original book is Bisley's drawing style, an energetic, violent style that almost breaths life. Oddly enough, in Heavy Metal 2000, despite a budget said to be around 15 million, the animation comes across as if Berni Wrightson were doing a bad imitation of cheap, lousy Saturday morning adventure cartoons. Hell, if the lead females didn't actually show their tits on occasion, one might think one was watching an old episode of He-Man. Not good.
As for the music, even fans of heavy metal will probably find most of the songs generic and unexciting – a far cry from the soundtrack of the first movie. (And people who found the first soundtrack lousy will find this one a pain worse than death.) In general, this movie shrieks "we don't know what we're doing" much louder than Titan A.E. (2000) does but lacks all the glossy, big budget animation to hide the fact. Okay, the babes in this film are much more exciting anatomically than anything found in the afore-mentioned kiddie film, and there are a few gratuitous scenes of tremendous, naked, gravity-defying animated tits that you wish were real, but animated tits hardly make a movie worth watching – especially since one ain't likely to wack the sausage for or to a few, short animated nude scenes. (Oddly enough, unlike in the magazine, frontal shots of naked men – animated or not – are obviously still a no-no in animated films.)
Indeed, more than anything else, it is the animation that makes the movie disappointing. As any fan of the real thing (i.e., comics) can tell you, the worst plot and story can be saved by excellent art. In the case of Heavy Metal 2000, the plot isn't even that bad – it is simply old and oft told, lacking in any and all surprises or originality. What damages the film is simply the lifeless, flat and uneven animation style. As for the plot, it is another sci-fi revenge story variation. An asteroid miner named Tyler discovers a secret key that can lead to immortality but drives the person who touches it insane. Now a psychotic madman, he and his band of space pirates zoom around the galaxy exterminating people and planets as he sees fit. On the planet F.A.K.K.2, those he does not exterminate he slowly drains, using their fluids to make a potion of temporary immortality. Julie – she's hot, she's stacked – survives the attack and sets out to revenge her planet. But, as she soon finds out Tyler is harder to kill than most. A hyper-jump later, everyone crash lands on the planet where the secret of immortality is locked and the opposing sides soon go to war. But wait! There is a traitor hidden amongst the midst of the good guys.... Wow. What a truly exciting and original plot.
The film's lead space amazon is obviously modelled after the woman who spoke the lines, Julie Strain. A self-made woman (well, okay she did have a lot help from plastic surgeons), she is statuesque and curvaceous and looks absolutely fabulous in photos. In life and in movement, the sight is much less attractive to behold, if nonetheless still impressive. A pin-up model and actress with over 60 B and Z films under her belt, the documentary on her included on the DVD is actually much more interesting than Heavy Metal 2000 itself.

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