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Overall Rating

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 Beth Gilligan

"Group therapy, heavy-metal style."
3 stars

Upon first hearing about the documentary depicting the heavy metal band Metallica in therapy, it was difficult not to imagine what their discussions might entail. The first thought that popped into my mind was an exchange along the lines of, “It really hurt my feelings when you stole my can of Aqua Net.” As it turns out, times (not to mention hairstyles) have changed. While Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s new film, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004), is not without its Spinal Tap moments, it is more interested in exploring a critical crossroads in the life of one of America’s biggest bands.

Taking a page from the Maysles brothers (who, along with mentoring the film’s directors, are also the minds behind the 1970 cinema verité classic Gimme Shelter), Berlinger and Sinofsky set out to capture a specific moment in time for the band. While the lack of backstory can at times be frustrating for non-metalheads, it simultaneously prevents Some Kind of Monster from sliding into VH1: Behind the Music territory. Still, given the degree to which demons from the past continue to haunt the band, a more in-depth examination of the group’s history, especially the 1986 death of bassist Cliff Burton and band’s infamous battle against music file-sharing server Napster, might have been useful.

The main focus, however, is the mid-life/identity crisis Metallica is undergoing. Faced with the departure of bassist Jason Newsted, ongoing substance abuse problems, and the pressure of having to deliver a new album, the band’s three remaining members – vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, and guitarist Kirk Hammett – decided to hire therapist/performance enhancement specialist Phil Towle to help them sift through their problems.

With cameras rolling, Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett, and longtime producer Bob Rock sit down for some intense group therapy sessions, in which long dormant demons spring to life and frustrations – both personal and creative – come to a head. Shortly into the filming, Hetfield vanishes for over six months to enter rehab for alcoholism and other undisclosed addictions. The recording of the band’s album, which would later be dubbed St. Anger, is brought to a halt and Metallica’s future hangs in the air.

While Some Kind of Monster may be largely preoccupied with the band’s literal therapy sessions, it does not, however, neglect the role that music can play as an outlet for one’s problems. The film more or less alludes to this along the way, with one overt reference in the form of a moving speech by Hetfield to a group of California prisoners, in which he credits music as being the saving grace in his tumultuous childhood and adult life.

Surprisingly, Some Kind of Monster is less thorough in detailing the critical and fan reaction to St. Anger. Although the album initially rocketed to the top spot on the music charts, it was not greeted as being on par with some of the band’s previous efforts. Given the movie’s otherwise warts-and-all depiction of Metallica’s inner workings, this seems like a glaring omission.

Still, the filmmakers make it clear from the beginning that their main interest is in the band’s transition from angry, young party animals to wealthy, middle-aged family men. To round out the picture, there are appearances by Ulrich’s eccentric father Torben, former band member Dave Mustaine, newly hired bassist Robert Trujillo, and Hetfield and Ulrich’s spouses and children. The film clocks in at two hours and twenty-one minutes, and by the end seems a bit overlong, but for the most part, what is onscreen makes for compelling viewing.

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originally posted: 04/04/05 06:39:41
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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
6/13/04 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
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  DVD: 25-Jan-2005



Directed by
  Joe Berlinger
  Bruce Sinofsky

Written by

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

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