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Overall Rating
4.15

Awesome54.1%
Worth A Look: 21.31%
Average: 14.75%
Pretty Bad: 4.92%
Total Crap: 4.92%

5 reviews, 31 user ratings


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Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
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by Jason Whyte

"Now raise your goblet of rock!"
5 stars

"Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" is not a documentary about Metallica's music, but rather a look on HOW Metallica's music is made and the forces behind it. Much of their talented work is featured, of course, but the real guts of this brilliant, brutal experience is the mind war between James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, two completely different people that make the most important decisions of the future of Metallica not only as a music source, but as a corporate entity and a fan base. The film goes against the grain of the "talking heads" documentary style and instead focuses on the how and the why of the lives of these people.

The film begins around 2001, when Metallica begins work on their latest album "St. Anger", their first album in several years. James Hetfield is the lead singer and guitarist, and is easily comparible to many of the rock gods of bands of this magnitude. He loves the power of Metallica, a band that has been going for over twenty years, and so does his drummer and co-founder, Lars Ulrich. But something is wrong. Their bassist, Jason Newstead, has left due to creative differences with Hetfield, and Bob Rock, the band's producer, fills in.

Bob Rock wants the new album to return Metallica to the days of their rock-fueled origins, but Hetfield and Ulrich aren't the rockers they once were. There's group therapist Phil Towle who is counseling the band (for $40,000 a month!) on their arguments. Ulrich argues that Hetfield's guitar doesn't have enough "stock" which leads to a bitter argument about their ethics of the group. Hetfield, at one point, leaves for treatment of his alcohol abuse, and is gone for nearly a year, leaving Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett as the only working members of Metallica.

The great thing about "Some Kind of Monster" is we're wrapped up in the story as much as the main players are. We quickly understand the situation because, quite frankly, put their money and power aside and they're hard workers just like everyone else, and we've been, in some form, where they were. I've been in working situations with others that I certainly don't agree with, and the result can be extremely difficult. The scenes with James and Lars arguing, alone, has more "action" than any of the recent films that belong in that genre.

Part of the success of the film rests not only on these people, but the fact that the cameras were rolling while they fought, debated and argued all of their problems. We peek into private meetings, watch along with recording sessions and are almost participants in the arguments that appear to last for months. Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky had full access to the band (they were working together before; Metallica provided songs for both of Berlinger's "Paradise Lost" documentaries) and were originally intending to make a straightforward account of the making of their album, and instead stayed with them all the way until 2003 filming over 1600 hours of footage, right up to where their album finished and they began another tour.

This is normally the part in the review where I would rave about the performances, but since this is a documentary, I will instead talk about the subjects within. Lars Ulrich is one of the best characters I've seen on film this year. We can't nominate the guy for an Oscar, but this guy is a ball of nature and my emotions went so up and down for this guy, from the money he makes selling his paintings to auction to his near-fan killing of his anti-Napster brigade, to the mere image of his father, who is just as stubborn as he is. And Hetfield is equally fascinating, especially in the aftermath of his treatment; his minimal-hour scheduling of working with the group and his emotional turnaround makes it even more difficult on Lars. And while Kirk Hammett doesn't get as much screen time as the others, it's mostly because he is a quiet observer of the action.

This is one of the best documentaries I've seen in a long time, if not ever. You don't have to be a fan of Metallica to appreciate this work. The film's energy and insight is relentless and it is probably the first film of this type that has left me with a rush that is normally reserved for action films like "Aliens" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Berlinger and Sinofsky have stumbled across a great story, have taken it and run with it, and have provided an endless amount of information that even its 140 minutes cannot hold. That running time is usually reserved for comprehensive Laurent Bourzeau documentaries on DVD's, but we want this to be longer. We want more inside the heads of these interesting people. Here is one of the year's best films.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8546&reviewer=350
originally posted: 08/31/04 14:40:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/03/06 David Pollastrini a little too much whining 3 stars
6/05/06 Humberto De la Garza It's awesome... Best Metallica documental... 5 stars
3/08/06 ALDO If you're an alcoholic and a genius, you should keep drinking as long as possible 4 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon 5 stars cuz it's so pathetic you HAVE TO see it! RIP Cliff... you're in a better place! 5 stars
5/25/05 David Yee Greatest Doc. ever made 5 stars
5/22/05 Cham It's hard to respect Metallica. 4 stars
4/25/05 Leah It definately made me feel connected to the band. 5 stars
4/03/05 Eric great movie that exposes a fraud of a band 4 stars
4/01/05 Richard Pryor great film dude! Metallica rules the sh*t!!! 5 stars
3/28/05 y2mckay Some kind of whiny-ass bitches. "I'm a rich rock star, but I'm not happy - WAAHHHH!" 3 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold "bloated dinosaur" exactly. But as a drama, it's actually pretty entertaining. 4 stars
1/31/05 New Jersey Rules Metallica sucks, load, reload, and St anger were the biggest pieces of shit ever. 1 stars
11/14/04 colin Best documentary ive seen ever. 5 stars
10/29/04 shockandawe Kick ass, All u haters are liberal assholes 5 stars
9/27/04 pupetmaster metallica is the best and this movie proves all the haters are just fuckin losers 5 stars
9/17/04 Jake A behind the scenes look at a bloated dinosaur 2 stars
8/15/04 John K The only good thing is old man Ulrich. Lars needs to get a clue. 2 stars
8/10/04 ajay depressing. Metallica is a full-on corporation, the 'art' is only secondary to making cash 3 stars
8/05/04 Mix Master Mason This is so NOT rock n' roll. Metallica are way too rich to rock. Snorefest city! 1 stars
7/24/04 james a peice of self-indulging shit. metallica blows. 1 stars
7/24/04 buddy garrett a real eye opener into this music genre 4 stars
7/21/04 Ted some kind of self-indulgent crap 2 stars
6/15/04 FLORENCE BOISSINOT MASTERFUL FILM- NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE 5 stars
6/13/04 Paul Hamill Brilliant, watch millionare rock stars grow up & rock! 5 stars
4/26/04 Gabriel Dow It was amazing, brutally honest, and yet so passionate for the music!!!! 5 stars
4/26/04 stenobabe funny, sad, intriguing, insightful 4 stars
4/20/04 Joseph Matarrese Great editing and watching it with the band added and element of excitement. 5 stars
4/17/04 TIM WESTERGARD very interesting look inside the mega machine, Big Hearts, and Emotion! will see it again! 5 stars
4/07/04 Mark Best documentary of a band ever. 5 stars
3/28/04 Hilarium Pretty decent 4 stars
3/28/04 Florence Boissinot amazing.... just amazing 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Jul-2004
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Sep-2004


Directed by
  Joe Berlinger
  Bruce Sinofsky

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  James Hetfield
  Lars Ulrich
  Kirk Hammett
  Dave Mustaine
  Bob Rock
  Phil Towle



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