So they made a TV-show out of the french comic-book anthology that made it’s name with wild stories. Fantasy-filled panoramas and… that one thing that drove more boys to buy the volumes than the violence. Tits. A healthy dose of cleavage and bulbous behinds on female cover-art-models… No I’m not a male-chauvinistic pig. At least not most of the time. But there are a few things that bring out the low-brow in me. And Heavy Metal is one of those.
Review: Heavy Metal Chronicles S1 (2012)
At least that’s what I remember it as. As I was too young and lived out in the swedish contryside a publication such as Heavy Metal wasn’t exactly common knowledge to me. There was some old animated movie that I was too young to see (more on that one in a coming post) but all in all. I was oblivious to the revolutionary work this magazine is supposed to have done… with the help of boobies. I have since seen both the classic animated omnibus called simply “Heavy Metal” and its not as fondly remembered semi-sequel/partial-remake Heavy Metal 2000. And I can wholeheartedly say that this new series, in short, falls flat on its face in almost every regard. I will go through it episode by episode (the season only consisting of 6 episodes) and try to make my points to where it succeeds and fails. But mostly fail.
Episode 1: “King’s Crown” “La Couronne du Roi”
Written By: Guillaume Lubrano & Justine Veillot Based on “King’s Crown” by Jim Alexander & Richard Corben from Métal Hurlant №142, and (Vol.2) No. 10, and (hardcover) No. 2
Kicking off the season is a story detailing the succession of the crown from an ailing king to his heir. This heir is selected through the process of an annoyingly talky tournament of fights where only the king is still left standing alive. I really should have started to suspect this series when this episode started. Cheap. Cheap is the word. The only word that came into my mind. Simplistic and un-inspired photography. Depressingly lack-luster script and laughably cheap visuals. Yes, there is a twist at the end. But the whole execution just failed to make me care the slightest.
The Twist: The successor has his brain swapped with the dying kings gray matter. Thus ensuring eternal life for the lord who instated this rite of succession.
Episode 2: “Shelter Me” “Protège-Moi”
Written by: Guillaume Lubrano, Justine Veillot & Dan Wickline Based on: “Shelter Me” by Dan Wickline & Mark Vigouroux from Métal Hurlant №142, and (Vol.2) No. 9, and (hardcover) No. 1
This second one carries the torch from the last one further down the drain. Basically dropping any semblence of what I have come to expect from the title “Heavy Metal”, it is a cheaply made single-room story that would be better of as an episode of Twilight-Zone than on something like Heavy Metal. We follow a girl who is saved by a slightly sleazy-looking neighbor from certain death by nukes. Throughout the episode it is kind of telegraphed that the saviour is kind of sleazy. Even creepy. That he might have just lied to our protagonist about the nuclear holocaust outside in order to foster an unhealthy dose of Stockholm-syndrome. To get the girl who is hinted at being slightly underaged into bed. But just like the first episode it’s all shot, acted and edited in such a lack-luster way that I struggled to keep any interest. And the fact that I predicted the twist was just tiresome.
The twist? He actually was a pervert pedophile AND the nuclear holocaust is actually true. Double Wammy and I just wish it was made more interestingly.
Episode 3: “Red Light / Cold Hard Facts” “Lumière Rouge / Réalité Glaçante”
Written By: Guillaume Lubrano & Justine Veillot Based on: “Red Light” by Geoff Johns & Christian Gossett and “Cold Hard Facts” by R.A. Jones & Matt Cossin from Métal Hurlant №141, and (Vol.2) No. 2 (“Red Light”), and (Vol.2) No. 8 (“Cold Hard Facts”), and (hardcover) No. 1 (both)
Oh, for crying out loud! Here we get not one but two episodes shot in the same disinterested way. No inspiration no nothing. I admit. I haven’t actually read any of the comics these are based on. Maybe they are fantastic. But from what I have gathered from snippets in featurettes surrounding the two movies they seemed to be at least drawn in a way that made the images pop. But here we are stuck with a man in a prison that is bathed in red light. And a limp attempt at a head-twisting ending on a future utopian society built around ruthless efficiency. Sigh… Why am I even bothering?
The Twist? The imprisoned man was a space-alien on a human-colonized planet . And the cryo-sleeping man was Walt Disney. And I should probably vacuum my floor.
Episode 4: “Three on a Match” “Oxygène”
Written by: Guillaume Lubrano & Justine Veillot Based on: “3 on a Match” by R.A. Jones & Ryan Sook from Métal Hurlant №139, and (hardcover) No. 1
Hm? Some actual sleaze? Hey, at least something is going on here! Some of the outrageous stuff from the films have actually leaked into this dry and dreary series! I wonder where that dominatrixing female officer is taking this plot? I mean. It could be anywhere. It could be an adventure of excitement. An adventure of stringing men along and then devouring their souls. It could be… A random run-in with the Metal Hurlant space-debris destroying the space-station and killing off everyone except thre people on a life-craft. Three assholes. None of them neither bright, charismatic or even the slightest bit likeable. They end up murdering each other in search of enough air. And I realize that I haven’t tried out my internet-box in a while now.
The Twist? The third asshole of the bunch turns out to be still alive as he was able to get to the piece of ship-debris that hurt the oxygen-supply of the life-craft in the first place. That thing was a tank of oxygen. Oh, and did I mention that the last time we saw him he was tumbling out of control outwards into space. Away from the ship that had the oxygen tube lodged into it…
Episode 5: “Master of Destiny” “Les Maîtres du Destin”
Written by: Guillaume Lubrano & Justine Veillot Starring: Joe Flanigan, Kelly Brook & Charlie Dupont Based on: “Les Maîtres du Destin” by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Adi Granov from Métal Hurlant №143, and (Vol.2) No. 10 (as “Masters of Destiny”)
So I was dreading another 20 minutes of tedium (at least it wasn’t a 40 min episode show). But then I saw that it was based on a comic by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Ok. I haven’t been the biggest fan of the guys work. But at least he makes interesting visuals and I would love to see what he could have done with Dune. I know he didn’t direct or write the episode. But I’ll take this over the prospect of another borefest any day. The episode itself is actually something that I would have expected to see in the animated films! Strange imagery. Space-thieves. Outlandish creatures. And a bit of sleaze and violence spicing things up. The things I didn’t really enjoy was the execution. It felt more than a bit talky at times. But it’s easily my favorite of the series.
The twist: There is none, actually. If I’m not counting the fact that the episode was watchable, that is. It’s also the characters they decided to portray on the disc-cover. A bit misleading.
Episode 6: “Pledge of Anya” “Le Serment d’Anya”
Written by: Guillaume Lubrano & Justine Veillot Based on: “Le Serment d’Anya” by Julien Blondel & Jérôme Opena from Métal Hurlant №146.
Could it be that they saved the best for last? The fifth one was actually watchable. Could this be the new Tarna-successor? Holy crap! Rutger Hauer is starring the episode! But no. It’s kind of an anticlimax of a series finale. There is some Heavy Metal imagery here. But it all devolves into a rehashed “we can’t kill Hitler as a kid! He’s only a kid by then!”
The Twist: The target of assassination was Little Kid Hitler. Why does that sound like a zany japanese game-show?
So, in conclusion
The short verdict is simple. Apart from the fifth one it’s pretty much forgettable. And I hope to dear FSM that they stepped up their game for season 2. So I can actually start to enjoy more than parts of one episode.
Be seeing you!