Forty-five years ago, a science fiction, fantasy, erotica, comic book was created called Heavy Metal. While it began as an English translation of the French science-fantasy magazine Métal Hurlant over time, it became its own entity with original content including a movie. Four years after Heavy Metal magazine was first published, a movie of the same name was released. Made up of nine vignettes, the movie offered graphic violence and sexual content with a hard rock soundtrack that included songs from Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Journey, etc. To celebrate the Magazine's anniversary, the movie is being released this month in 4K.
As the film opens, an astronaut emerges from a space shuttle and descends to Earth in a 1960 Corvette. He lands outside his house and as he comes inside, his daughter greets him and asks what he has brought her. He opens a case to reveal a glowing, green orb that proceeds to disintegrate him before his daughter's eyes. The orb then tells her it is "The sum of all evils" and introduces itself as the Loc-Nar. It then continues by showing her a series of stories in which it corrupts individuals, turning them evil.
By the above description alone, one might think, "what the heck...?" However, once you watch the movie, your astonishment increases tenfold. It is easy to see how a film like this could have been made as soon as you remember it was conceived and created in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when drug use, especially cocaine, was prevalent. I'm certain one's perspective of Heavy Metal would change depending on whether they were in an "altered" state at the time of the viewing. It would be interesting to see how a person's opinion of the movie would change from seeing it sober and then again high.
The cast is one of the better components of this movie as it includes the voice talents of Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek), Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters), John Candy (Uncle Buck), and Don Francks (Johnny Mnemonic), etc. Some of them voice more than one character in different stories attesting to their talents. There are also ten different directors, each taking one vignette and Gerald Potterton (Ghost Ship) overseeing the whole movie. With so many chefs in the kitchen, Heavy Metal could have easily been a discombobulated mess. However, it all comes together to create a strange and unique adult animated film.
The 4K version of Heavy Metal is a treat to watch and hear. Upgraded to HDR: Dolby Vision, the picture quality is noticeably better than the previously released Blu-ray. The animation is cleaner, brighter, and more defined and the colors pop off the screen. Comparing the original video quality to this newest version is like comparing night and day. While it is the same film, there are so many differences it feels almost completely brand new.
Also benefiting from the upgrade is the audio quality. The soundtrack and dialogue are so much more well defined, there are sounds and words I never noticed before. The Dolby Atmos audio makes an obvious difference and certainly highlights the various artists showcased on the soundtrack.
This new Heavy Metal release comes in a limited-edition steel book and includes the Blu-ray copy, the 4K copy, and a new Blu-ray copy of Heavy Metal 2000, a completely different film that shares almost nothing with the original other than its name and the Loc-Nar. Other extras included are made up of previously released material besides one, new, nine-minute extra, Heavy Metallic: A Look Again - an all-new retrospective that includes reflections from producer Ivan Reitman, well-known followers Kevin Smith, Norman Reedus, and more! This was one of the last times Reitman was interviewed before his passing.
Heavy Metal didn't win any awards and the movie certainly isn't for everyone (neither is Heavy Metal 2000) but it has a certain charm that allows it to have a cult-like following. Those who consider themselves part of that "cult" will be pleased with this steel book for many reasons. First, the inclusion of the second film is worth the purchase price alone. Second, Reitman talking about the film (along with others) is a gem and a reminder of the man who brought us some incredible movies. Finally, the video and audio quality are so much better than previous versions that you will want to add this to your collection. Heavy Metal will be available in stores on April 19, 2022.