Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Heavy Metal 2000


  I've seen this movie before, and I'm very familiar with the amazing work of the minds behind it. Particularly, Simon Bisley, who illustrated the graphic novel which Heavy Metal 2000 is based on. You can see a small sample of his work on the cover for the DVD of the movie here, and sadly... it's more exciting and interesting than the movie itself. See, the cover makes promises the movie simply doesn't deliver on. It's never once as stylish, as gritty, or as weirdly sexy as that image is. The movie exists as an odd curiosity for fans of the Heavy Metal magazine (google it if you don't know about it) and the 1981 movie as well- but little more than that.

  I want so very very much to like this movie, and I think I kind of do in a small way, but it's a love/hate relationship. Well, that's being generous. It's more along the lines of a like/dislike relationship. The movie is never bad enough to outright offend, nor good enough to love. It's chief problem is the animation style. The cliche ridden story, the contrived plot, the paper-thin characters, and even the bland voice work could've all been forgiven if the animation style was different. See, it lacks detail. Which is a huge problem. It's visually bland. The movie shows us outlandish locales, massive spaceships, sprawling landscapes, and wild characters- and it all looks insanely bland.

  It's worth pointing out that Heavy Metal 2000 is a psuedo-sequel to a 1981 animated movie called Heavy Metal- which is based on stories from the aforementioned magazine. This is worth noting because the first movie was an anthology tale with a different art style for each segment. You had a variety of tones and unique visuals to go along with each one. Yet, without fail- the movie was brimming with visual detail. Scenes were alive all the way into the distant background, and characters had lots of personality- just in the way they looked. See, both of these movies are chock full of nudity, gore, violence and all around general depravity...

  All of it might just be pubescent counterculture junk thrown in there simply to be edgy, but at least in the first movie, it was all drawn well. Very well in fact. It might've been sleaze, but it was stylish sleaze. There was a charm to it. The varied styles all had appeal, they were fantastic eye candy. Yet standing in absolute contrast to this is Heavy Metal 2000. It has all the sleaze of it's predecessor, but none of the style. It's like an R rated Saturday morning cartoon that nobody cares to remember. Like a pre-teen boy trying to be cool by swearing and drawing boobs and exploding heads on everything. Occasionally, it does look neat. But, in a cheap way.

  There are certain scenes that are fun, and overall the movie is harmless. It's about as entertaining as a dirty joke. It's appeal can be ascertained in seconds, and it had trouble holding my attention after that. The main character is Julie. Named after model/actress Julie Strain. See, Strain is a total sex symbol. She was the visual basis for Bisely's art of the character well before this movie was even a thing. She's been a cover model for Heavy Metal magazine artists for years, and in many ways symbolizes the appeal of a big portion of the content of the magazine. She might not be a great actress, but she didn't need to be. Either way, this movie does her no justice.

  Her character is... just, Julie. She has no backstory, no story-story, no nothing. She only exists to exact revenge on the movie's antagonist, Tyler, voiced by Michael Ironside who's very clearly sleepwalking through the role. Tyler gets the ONLY two good lines in the whole entire movie. Fortunately for him, they're actually really good lines, in a cheesy way. This movie should've been non-stop, over-the-top, gratuitous violence and nudity. But, the violence isn't all that exciting for the most part, and the nudity isn't sexy because it's not drawn well. There are of course momentary exceptions to both of those complaints, and when the movie manages to be both exciting and sexy you see glimpses of what it could've been.

  Also, they keep trying to fit this acronym into the plot of the movie, "F.A.K.K. 2" which stands for Federation Assigned Ketogenic Killzone. Whatever the flying fuck that means! So, like... apparently, it's the classification for dead worlds? But the movie keeps trying to make it a thing. Tyler shoots it into a wall with his machine gun at one point. "FAKK 2". Nobody cares. It's a clumsy and awkward acronym that doesn't really have any relevance to the story. Yet Julie actually adopts the term as an alias. For no reason. I get that it might have some significance in the comics or whatever, but it just looks tacky, and sounds even worse. They try to shoehorn it in so much, yet it never clicks. I don't get it. I shouldn't even mention the bloated story and anorexic plot. There's... a key that unlocks the waters to immortality? Or something? Tyler accidentally finds it? I dunno. It's dumb.

  All this without even mentioning the horrible CGI the movie is addled with like a friggin cancer. Further detracting from any charm the movie had the potential to have, CGI permeates just about every scene. All the spaceships and buildings are CGI, and it looks distracting at best, horribly ugly at worst. Even the antiquated animation techniques used for certain segments of the first movie still look better than anything in this one. The CGI does not hold up, and wasn't even up to snuff for 1999. This movie has the production value of a shitty kid's cartoon that got canceled after five episodes because no kid would watch it. Except Heavy Metal 2000 has boobs, gore, and swear words! Ooh! How edgy!

  None of it is visually appealing in the slightest, and to me, that's it's biggest crime. Having said all that, the movie is still an R rated feature length animated movie. In a basic and weird way, that holds an appeal of it's own. And, I should reiterate, there are some really cool scenes in the movie. Overall the movie isn't awful, but it's just not as good as it could've and should've been. It doesn't even use it's own soundtrack in any decent way. Bad timing and unmemorable songs. It didn't have a chance when stacked up next to it's predecessor. Still, the movie captures a fond but ugly feeling of nostalgia for me. Even if this was never the type of movie I would've seen as a kid, it reminds me of stupid cartoons I used to think were amazing.

  It's still escapism when all is said and done, and I have a feeling I'll be keeping it around for those rainy days when I can switch off my analytical critic sensibilities and just enjoy watching this six foot tall, big breasted amazon woman kick ass through space and beyond, trying to save the galaxy. It's just a neat little flick to pop in when you're bored, and despite the fact it's not winning any awards in my book, I did enjoy watching it. It was fun at times, and laughable at others, but to be honest... there's not many other movies like it. It's unique, and it's just... retarded fun in it's own way. I can imagine it might be better with friends and lots of beer. I don't hate this movie, but I want to like it a lot more than I do. So.. I suppose I'm merciful enough that it gets a limited recommendation from me.

  And, I've ended this year like I began it, reviewing a movie nobody really gives a shit about. Live long and prosper, bitches.

6 comments:

  1. How would you Redesign this movie?

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    1. I personally would've rotoscoped the entire production and avoided using any CGI.
      I would've made it much more colorful, and all that's just for starters.

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    2. What else. I myself would have added more action scene's and sexy moments with a few moments of levity from Juile, you know let her have fun.
      Include a character called Ethan, who would have been stuck on the Planet for 5 years before she showed up when a fugitive his ship was transporting attempted escape and they crashed. He'd also be Julie's love interest who'd also function as the explained for how the Melting pot of a planet their on works, while making jokes at her increasingly exposed dress state, while they flirt.

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    3. I don't know if her having fun would be ideal after most of her people were brutally slaughtered. I clearly haven't given this as much thought as you have. More action is never a bad idea, but my main issue with the movie was the animation style. It's not nearly as edgy as it so badly wants to think it is.

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    4. People have funny ways of dealing with grief. I know what you mean about the style though.

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  2. Exactly. The Taarna sequence in the first movie doesn't do much that this movie doesn't, but it's so much more fun. I think it's the animation style. Rotoscoping provides a much more engaging end result. Not just that, but it was brighter, more colorful. Even gorier.
    Visually, HM2000 felt like a massive step backwards.

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