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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/18/99

Heavy Metal
Collector's Series - 1981 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Heavy Metal: Collector's Series Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/A+

Specs and Features

90 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch - movie on one layer, special edition material on the other), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with Carl Macek reading from his book Heavy Metal: The Movie), feature-length rough cut (with optional commentary track with Carl Macek), documentary: Imagining Heavy Metal, deleted scenes including Neverwhere Land and an alternate "framing story" (with optional commentary by Macek), production photo gallery, pencil and conceptual art, single and layered cel gallery, production notes, Heavy Metal magazine cover gallery, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), language: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Spanish and Portuguese, Close Captioned

This doesn't have to be a very long review. If you're a fan of Heavy Metal -- run out and get this disc. Now. Don't wait in line, don't work for your allowance, don't even wait for the store clerk to give you a bag. Just hand over whatever amount they're asking, get your receipt, rip off the cellophane wrap, and get your ass home to pop this disc in your DVD player. There is so much stuff on this disc, it'll blow your mind. Wait, wait, wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.

For those of you who don't know what Heavy Metal is, let me break it down light and easy for you. Heavy Metal is one of those phenomena films. Sure, after you see it the first time, you'll no doubt wonder what all the fuss is about. The animation is not very good (or at least, not very consistent, although a few parts shine like in the Harry Canyon part, or Captain Sternn). The writing isn't of the type that'll win any awards. In fact, unless you're a guy who hardly dated in high school (read: a geek, a freak or a nerd) you'll simply not get it. Even the stories themselves are lacking (especially when you hold them up to the originals in Heavy Metal magazine). It's even a bit sexist. I mean how many women really have 80-DDD breasts, walk around half-naked, and freak out at the drop of a hat?

So why am I sending you all out for this disc in a rabid fury? Well, even if you aren't impressed the first time, Heavy Metal will grow on you. It gets stuck in your head and digs in. You'll think about it and begin to wonder. You'll see something in a movie and wonder where you first saw it, knowing it must have been a comic, and find out later it was Heavy Metal. In the end, you'll be curious as to whether what you saw, was really what you saw. Heavy Metal is so much a part of the pop culture universe, that just for that very fact, Heavy Metal is a DVD that everyone with a player should have in their collection. And that's not hyperbole -- that's the God's honest truth.

Storywise, Heavy Metal is a group of short stories, presented inside a framing story that ties it all together. The framing story is about a green orb (the Loc-Nar), that is basically everything Evil can be. Each of the stories has a reference to the green orb, and the orb is telling each story to a young girl. I really could go on and on about each story, but I feel that if you saw the film, you really don't need to hear what I think. If you haven't seen it, then you really need to experience the it on your own.

As a DVD, this thing rocks. Everything short of giving you the original "making-of" book is included on this thing. And in a way, that's included too. The extras are an art fan's dream. There's a gallery of gorgeous cover art from Heavy Metal magazine, a whopping pile of pencil art, cel art, backgrounds and concepts, and deleted scenes. The major scene that was deleted, Neverwhere Land, is a pretty emotional telling of the history of the world (with a focus on the violent acts of man), done in a swirl that is more beautiful than anything left in the film. It's incredible really. There's also an alternate-framing story about a carousel, that echoes the stories in the film. It's a work print, and you have the pleasure of viewing it with or without commentary by animation authority Carl Macek. Macek also reads from his book Heavy Metal: The Movie on a commentary for the film, but it gets annoying (even if it is informative) because it's not sequenced like the movie, so you're hearing stuff about the B-17 short while watching Den.

The best thing on this disc, is the ability to watch the film in its work print stage. It's primarily pencil sketches superimposed over rough backgrounds, with different film elements (like the live action model shots used to roto Taarna) edited in. There's some rough dialogue as well, without any music score. It's incredibly cool, and I am only hoping Disney does the same thing with their Beauty And The Beast disc when it comes out, using the early pencil print that came out on laserdisc a few years back. Macek provides a good commentary here, thankfully not reading from his book. He knows his animation, and provides a lot of useful information for animation enthusiasts. Included on top of everything else, is a documentary that will inform as well as entertain. The guys behind this movie probably never got laid in high school, and after hearing them talk about the film (especially the bits on why the naked chicks are so prominent) you won't wonder why.

The DVD's picture and sound quality are both stellar. There are a few moments of artifacting, and some edge enhancement, but for the most part it's a pristine picture. Keep in mind that the animation isn't state-of-the-art, and the print itself isn't in perfect condition, but the transfer is excellent - this is as good as you'll ever see this film look. The hard rock soundtrack shines through, in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original 2.0 tracks. The dialogue is well centered, and the effects are strong. It's a good disc to run your system on.

I'm serious when I say that you need this disc. I am not the biggest Heavy Metal fan, but I plan on getting a copy for several animation enthusiasts I know. It's something you need to see, and is definitely fun to play with. Go get it now.

Todd Doogan
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