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Metallica - Some Kind of Monster
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Featuring the most successful heavy metal band of all time, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER offers a revealing and exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the legendary band as they confront personal demons and their relationships with each other while recording their Grammy-winning album, St. Anger.
The bonus features included in this two-disc set are well worth the time and attention of any fan of Metallica or filmmakers Sinofsky/Berlinger. It contains 40 additional scenes, and while the film itself doesn't suffer for their absence, there are interesting perspectives to be gained. Standouts include James reminiscing about his difficult childhood, a Hawaiian-themed birthday party for Kirk, and a look at Lars's childhood haunts in Copenhagen. There are also scenes of the band promoting the film at various festivals, a music video (mostly comprised of footage from the movie), two trailers, post-film interviews with Metallica, and a thorough directors' commentary describing the hurdles this movie jumped on its way to the big screen. The band commentary track is a touch slow to get cooking, but the boys have already revealed so much that one can hardly blame them for having little left to say. --Leah Weathersby
- 40 Additional Scenes
- Exclusive interviews with Metallica about the film
- Highlights from festivals and premieres
- Two audio commentaries by the band and the filmmakers
- Two trailers and a music video
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Top Customer Reviews
Some Kind of Monster is doomed from the beginning. In the very first scene, we're introduced to Metallica's "performance enhancement coach," therapist Phil Towle. As if his title isn't absurd enough, the filmmakers portray him as an invasive, conniving creature the band openly despises. Metallica pay Towle $40,000 a month to cater to "their every beck and call," but only rarely does anyone besides James seem to take him seriously.
Awkward as Towle's presence is throughout the documentary, it's not nearly as painful as producer Bob Rock's plethora of useless advice. Indeed, it's Rock who suggests at the outset of the writing process that Metallica "should [try to] sound like a band coming together in a garage for the first time." Well, Bob, mission accomplished. Anyone who's heard St. Anger, the end product of two years of intra-band-turmoil captured by this documentary, knows it sounds just like that, much to everyone's dismay. James's own three-year-old son starts bawling in the studio when Bob Rock reviews the track "My World." You would think they'd take a hint!
Some Kind of Monster offers a lot of insight into Metallica's record-making process as well as the personalities and faults of its members. Former bassist Jason Newsted is given the spotlight for a brief time near the beginning of the documentary, and once you've seen the whole film from beginning to end it's hard to fault him for leaving the band, especially when the remaining members don't waste any opportunity to take a dig at him during the film. The scene where MTV phones Metallica to ask them if they're interested in being a part of the ICON program is especially telling; according to the MTV rep, "Jason lost his ICON status when he left Metallica"- a comment met with emphatic laughter from the band.
Of the remaining Metallica members, Kirk certainly comes across as the most genuine. He admits early in the film that he has never been an egotistical person, and he constantly tries to squash any bit of ego he does possess. This is evident throughout the documentary as he is often trampled by Lars and James. Indeed, there is one especially telling moment when James complains that he feels like important Metallica decisions are being made while he's away and he has to fight an uphill battle for his voice to be heard, to which Kirk responds "that's just like the last 15 years for me." And yet, Kirk says this with a certain degree of humor. It's as if he's accepted his role as third wheel to the James/Lars show long ago and no longer has the will to assert himself, if he ever did at all. Although Kirk often comes across as a pushover, he ends up being the most likable of the three Metallica members in addition to being the one the viewer respects the most.
Lars, on the other hand, is a terror. Some Kind of Monster is a psychologist's dream documentary with all of the different social dynamics going on between the band members, their therapist, the producer, and other minor personnel, but no aspect of the film is more exciting or sickening than Lars Ulrich's persona. Even though it's clear he's performing for the camera much of the time, there's just no faking some of the unreal crap he pulls. Of all his narcissistic, self-absorbed moments caught on camera over the course of the documentary, my favorite is a deleted scene (on the bonus materials disc) in which he is holding his three-week-old infant child while talking to the camera. Mid-thought, the newborn starts crying. Lars responds with a petulant "EXCUSE me! I'm trying to formulate a thought here!" and then yells for his wife to come take the child away. You can't make this stuff up!
James is surely the wild card of the bunch. Some viewers will love his transparency following a lengthy stint in rehab; others will condemn him for being a whiny jerk for much of the film. Likable or not, his interactions with Lars are more entertaining than even the most dramatic reality television sequences. Personally, it was difficult for me to get past an early scene of him driving down the highway in a hot rod waving to other people on the road, all the while ironically narrating that he doesn't put much weight on his own fame. There is also a rather disappointing moment later in the film where James watches footage of himself acting like a jerk to his bandmates and comments "I just saw myself being pretty real, and that was cool." Uh, yeah... Real cool, Hetfield.
Besides being incredibly dramatic, Some Kind of Monster is also quite humorous, both intentionally and unintentionally. We learn little tidbits about the St. Anger album, such as the fact that the song "Frantic" very nearly became "Searchin' for Doughnuts." Likewise, the album itself could have been named "Ain't Askared No More" or "Best Dressed Chicken in Town" had the band opted for one of the sillier titles they brainstormed.
As for the unintentional side of the humor, most of it can be attributed to Lars's prima donna behavior. Another favorite moment of mine comes in studio in a deleted scene. Bob Rock accidentally runs over Lars's bare foot with a swivel chair, and Lars yells "don't EVER f*****g do that again EVER!" Bob, for once in his life, replies angrily "Would you put some f*****g shoes on?!" As Lars retorts with a juvenile "Don't tell me what to do!" even the passive Kirk decides to speak up and yells "You shouldn't put your foot under his wheel!" prompting Lars to angrily leave the room. Unbelievably (but for our enjoyment), there are dozens of similar Lars moments littered throughout the film.
If there's anything truly sad about the Some Kind of Monster documentary, it's that Metallica's whole team of managers, producers, and other assistants are impeccably disciplined Yes-Men who tell Lars and James exactly what they want to hear any time they're asked for advice. Seeing manager Cliff Bernstein's visible discomfort at having to criticize some of the songs the band recorded for St. Anger is extremely uncomfortable to watch because it is evident he wants to tell them to scrap a lot of the material and start over from the beginning, but he knows he cannot. Truly, I got the distinct impression that the whole Metallica crew is paid too well to be openly cynical about anything, so we can thank these enablers in part for allowing St. Anger to happen.
I could continue to analyze Some Kind of Monster, but I don't want to spoil too much of the film, and I'm sure other reviewers have already covered a lot of what I have to say anyway. It's hard for me to pick a demographic that I'd recommend watch this film... On the one hand, die-hard Metallica fans might love it for its first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Metallica; on the other hand, it will surely crush some viewers' perceptions of the people who comprise the band. It certainly wouldn't be strange to finish the film despising the arrogance and immaturity of some of its real-life characters.
Ultimately, Some Kind of Monster is too entertaining to pass up- but be warned that it's not a healthy kind of entertainment. It's our chance to watch a spoiled group of rock stars demonstrate their arrogance ad nauseam and put their many issues on public display for two hours without so much as a hint of irony or self-deprecation, all the while composing awful music as a soundtrack to the chaos. Some Kind of Monster is real, it's honest, and it's more than a little sickening. Approach it with caution, for you'll likely never look at Metallica the same way again after viewing it.