by Brian McKay
The smartest move anybody involved with this production made was to ditch the original title HEAVY METAL: FAKK 2, and opt for the much more sequel-friendly HEAVY METAL 2000. The dumbest move was casting Penthouse pet and softcore "actress" Julie Strain Eastman in the lead - which is mostly the fault of her husband, writer Kevin Eastman. Coincidentally, this may be the first time anyone ever got the lead role in a feature by sleeping with the WRITER!Heavy Metal 2000 bears only a loose resemblance to the original Heavy Metal, which was itself a loosely-assembled hodgepodge of ideas tied together by a cock-rock extravaganza soundtrack featuring the likes of Sammy Haggar, Cheap Trick, and Black Sabbath. Its goal was simple - to show as much animated tits and gore as they could get away with, while throwing in a little stoner humor on the side.
"FAKK 2? No, FAKK U!"
Heavy Metal 2000 fails to improve on the original formula, with the exception of the animation. But while the artwork is definitely prettier, it's nothing revolutionary, featuring a blend of traditional and computer-generated animation on par with the likes of Titan A.E.. While the CGI spaceships look good, the creature effects leave much to be desired, and the movie would have really been better off sticking to old school technique.
As the opening narration tells us, there exists an underground lake on a distant planet, the waters of which can grant eternal life to whoever drinks it. The cave was sealed by the aliens who live there, and they key was cast into the depths of space.
When an asteroid miner named Tyler (Michael Ironside) finds the key, a glowing crystal, he immediately goes insane, kills off half of his crew, commandeers the ship, and goes on a quest to find the interstellar fountain of youth.
Along the way, he stops to destroy and pillage a colony on a supposedly dead planet (a.k.a. a Federation Assigned Kitogenic Killzone of the Second class - hence the cumbersome FAKK 2 working title.) It turns out that the inhabitants of the colony have trace elements of the life-giving juice in their systems, and Tyler wants to distill the essence from their bodies to keep him alive and invincible until he can find the motherlode.
The colony is the home of Julie (Julie Strain), as well as her father and younger sister. When Julie's father is killed in the attack, and her sister is taken captive, she has only one thing on her mind - revenge. One of Tyler's men is left behind for incompetence, and Julie drags him along to act as a guide in her pursuit of Tyler. While he is supposed to provide the comic relief, the voice actor portraying him is almost as wooden as Strain. As for Strain's performance, I haven't seen that much wood on screen since Ron Jeremy banged a hermaphrodite. While Julie "One-note" Strain is certainly okay to look at, and not a bad body to model the character from, did we really need to have her doing the voice? That's the beauty of animation, people - somebody else who actually has a scrap of voice-acting talent could have done it, and the world would be none the wiser. Alas, 90 minutes of her verbal scowling starts to feel like a very long time.
So Julie and her sidekick pursue Tyler, with Julie attempting to kill him many times. He doesn't have the courtesy to stay dead, however, since he keeps sipping the life-essence of what used to be Julie's friends and neighbors. Tyler conveniently saves Julie's sister for last, of course, so that Julie will have time to rescue her.
After both ships crash-land on the planet that holds the waters of life, there are more skirmishes and lukewarm pursuits. Tyler raises an army among the natives to attack the castle guarding the cave, and Julie joins up with an alien priest named Odin (Billy Idol) and his pet rock. It all culminates in Julie stripping down to don a sexy warrior-babe costume and take up the sword (one of the film's few nods to the original), followed by a halfway-decent final battle.
While there is some good eye candy, there's not nearly enough. It's even lighter in the tits 'n gore department than the original. You don't really get a good taste of the good ol' ultra-violence until the end, and for as much time as Julie's sister spends in the clutches of a sex-crazed and sadistic maniac, it's strange that she gets to keep her clothes on during the whole ordeal. Hey, I know they're animated, but tits are tits, and Heavy Metal 2000 doesn't have enough of 'em.
But then, this isn't manga, but if you're not going to bone up heavily on the sex and violence, then you'd better have a halfway watchable story to back it up. One of the strengths of the original was that each of the five segments were done by a different director, writer, and animator, exposing the viewer to a variety of styles that kept it fresh. Heavy Metal 2000 tries to drag such a simplistic story out for far too long, and would have fared better as an ensemble. At least Ironside and Idol provide some tolerable voice work, and none of the cast of SCTV were used in the making of this film, unlike the original which relied heavily on the voice work of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis, etc.
One of the bright spots of Heavy Metal 2000 is the soundtrack. While nothing on it is likely to garner the cult status of such spandex anthems as Don Felder's Taking a Ride or Sammy Hagar's Heavy Metal, there are some solid tracks on there from MDMFK, Pantera, Apartment 26, Hate Department, Queens of the Stone Age, and 80's icon Billy Idol himself. While the movie was disappointing in its mediocrity, the soundtrack is one of the best metal/industrial potpourris I've heard, nearly in the same league as the OST for The Crow.
Carnage and Carnality
-Impromptu jackhammer heart surgery
-Pointless big-breasted shower soaping scene.
-Spaceport bar gatling gun massacre
-Sex droid with adjustable moods and breast size (Only 2000 bucks!?)
-Lava pit Axe-fight with bipedal boar
-Ridiculous "get naked and pretend to want to have sex with the bad guy so that I can get close enough to kill him" ploy (even though she's already tried to kill him twice and you'd think he'd recognize her by now).
-Strip and swim naked in preparation for the Donning of the Sexy Battle Costume.
-evisceration, decapitation, and gratuitous torso cleaving.It isn't unwatchable, but it ain't no NINJA SCROLL either. While boasting some decent animation and action, the campy humor of the original is absent, and it seems to miss the point of what the original set out to accomplish - giving the audience something fun to get high and rawk out to.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4402&reviewer=258
originally posted: 12/05/02 12:21:47