Heavy Metal | Chicago Reader

Heavy Metal

90 minutes 2013

Elmer Bernstein's symphonic score, rather than the threatened Black Sabbath, Journey, and Blue Oyster Cult, actually dominates this 1981 animated film—which is a serious commercial mistake but thank God for it. The seven sections, each based on a comic strip from Heavy Metal magazine, have been farmed out to various animation studios, including England's Halas and Bachelor and LA's Jimmy Murakami, and the contrasts in styles of drawing and direction give the picture real texture and liveliness. Some of the animation is first-rate, particularly in the more modest comedy segments, and even the heavy set pieces have greater flash and dazzle than anything Ralph Bakshi mustered around the same period. The film never transcends the racist, sexist, neofascist implications of its base material, but it works entertainingly within them, and even manages a bit of auto-analysis in John Candy's ironic, adolescent narration of the "Den" episode. Better than it had to be, for which some honor is due.

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