METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER
Review by Michael Jacobson
Metallica, Bob Rock
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 140 Minutes
Release Date: January 25, 2005
the world is gone; I'm just one.”
Some Kind of Monster is a rather fascinating documentary that lays bare what many of us have
always suspected: even the biggest,
most aggressive and most influential rock stars in the world are really nothing
but little whiny bitches behind the scenes.
an old school Metallica fan…that is to say, I love their work from their first
album up through And Justice For All. Starting
with their so-called “black album”, the self-titled one, they seemed to be
shifting gears from no-prisoners death metal toward a more MTV and VH1 friendly
format. Producer Bob Rock polished
them up, smoothed out the edges, and slicked up their recordings so that they
were more single-friendly.
there was that whole Napster fiasco, which caused me, like a lot of other former
fans, to pledge never to spend another penny on Metallica product…a vow I've
kept to this day. In fact, had the
studio not been kind enough to send me this DVD to review, I'd have never
picked it up.
being said, I'm glad I got a chance to see it.
Co-directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who made the must-see Paradise
Lost documentaries, started out chronicling a new phase in the band's
career. Their long time bassist
Jason Newstead had departed, citing the damage he had inflicted upon himself
over the years playing Metallica's heavy music.
Now there were three, getting ready to forge ahead with what would
ultimately become the St. Anger album.
But first, the band needed a little therapy to soften things back up
the heart of Metallica is a clash between two large egos.
Singer/guitarist James Hetfield fronts the band with a trademark snarl
and pessimistic lyrics, but his longtime drinking problem started coming to a
head. Drummer Lars Ulrich seems to
have gone from being in it for the music to being all about the money and the
image. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett
comes across as a gentle, thoughtful soul who often tries to calm the raging
waters but ends up over his head quite a bit.
therapist takes $40,000 a month from the band and leads them like children down
so-called paths of healing. James
and Lars seem almost incapable of foraging ahead as music partners, much less
friends. The recording session
starts and stalls after James decides to check himself into rehab.
The others have no clue how long he'll be gone.
One makeshift studio is torn down in favor of another.
The creative juices aren't flowing.
the film's most interesting segment, to me at least, Lars is brought together
with former lead guitarist Dave Mustaine (who later formed and fronted Megadeth)
to come to terms over Dave's early and untimely dismissal.
He got fired, then the band broke big…not an easy thing to live with.
Whether or not this meeting brought about any healing is suspect, but for
metal fans, it made for one helluva moment.
James returns, but tensions don't ease. The
guys, who once lived loud and partied hard, all had family lives pulling at
them. Seeing them with their kids
is a nice touch; it lends a sense of normalcy to guys who are essentially hard
nothing lends as much normalcy as just seeing them in states of self-pity,
frustration, and sullenness. Every
band has their share of problems (I know from a bit of personal experience
myself), but when you're a band the size of Metallica, every problem seems
larger than life and heavier than the music they play.
could have been a Let it Be type documentary that unwittingly chronicled
the end of a once great band, but fortunately for them and their fans, they
pulled it together. They started
finding the love in making music once again, they added bass player phenom
Robert Trujillo of Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves fame to the
lineup, and in the end, produced their heaviest and most satisfying record in
years. At least, that's what
I'm told, because as mentioned, I don't buy their stuff anymore.
there's a lesson to be had, I suppose it's that a band can see its way
through anything as long as the fire to make music still burns within them.
Metallica maybe another casualty of fame and infamy waiting to happen.
But it didn't happen today.
movie was shot on video and is presented in standard screen format.
It looks fine for what it is, which certainly isn't an exercise in
cinematographic stylings. What you
see is what you get, and it's perfectly serviceable.
5.1 soundtrack, however, is terrific…as you might have guessed, mostly owing
to the music. When the band plays,
it's loud, heavy, and thunderous, thanks to the surrounds and the subwoofer.
The heavy tunes gives the track its dynamic range.
Quieter moments with focus on spoken words come through clearly and
cleanly as well.
disc has two commentary tracks, one by the co-directors and one by the members
of the group. Both are occasionally
sparse and frequently superfluous, because in a documentary, all the information
about what's going on is really on the screen in front of you.
are also a total of 40 deleted or additional scenes, interviews with the band
members about the making of the film, highlights from the film festivals and
premieres, and a pair of trailers and a music video.