Heavy Metal (1981)

Heavy Metal (1981), directed by Gerald Potterton, written by Daniel Goldberg, Len Blum, , starring Eugene Levy, John Candy, Harold Ramis

Heavy Metal is one of those movies that have gained a solid cult following over the years. That, I'm guessing, has more to do with the fact that it's based on Heavy Metal magazine and because, unlike many other animated movies of its time, it was clearly aimed at adults with its sex and violence-laced stories. It's not a particularly great movie though.  At places interesting,  but not a great movie as a whole.

Not that adult themed animations had been unseen in the 1970's either, thanks to animators like Ralph Bakshi, but it's somewhat telling of a number of movies released that pretty much all of his animations have been lifted to cult status as well no matter the actual quality. A hyperbole, I know, but that's how it feels like at least.

Anyhow, Heavy Metal is an anthology of short stories loosely tied together with a glowing green ball calling itself Loc-Nar, the ultimate evil. On the tie-in story, shown between the other stories, Loc-Nar is harassing a young girl and telling her stories of his evil nature after killing her father. the other stories vary from sci-fi to horror. There's a story of a NewYorkian cab driver in a dystopian future, a fantasy story about a nerd who becomes a magnificent warrior after the dimension shifts, a horror story set on WW2 where a bomber crew turns into zombies and so on. There' very little rhyme or reason in the stories other than Loc-Nar having his hand in things turning sour.

Some of these stories are visually and thematically interesting, but in the end, the stories don't really form a coherent narrative and the connecting element that is Loc-Nar feels superfluous at best. On some stories, the green sphere is so tacked on, that its presence isn't even really needed nor does his telling of a story even feel that reasonable, as he is at times clearly defeated in the story itself nor are his victories so significant that bragging with them makes sense. The narrative coherency is the biggest issue I had with Heavy Metal. As a whole, it just feels like a badly written story with elements in it that don't really mesh up that well. While some segments in it do work as individual pieces, the sum of the whole just doesn't really hold up.

Animation quality is all over the place as well. While some stories are reasonably well animated, there are pieces that have a rushed air about them. Scene art itself is always constantly good though. Voice acting is another oddity, especially the way it's been edited as in many places it sounds almost unintelligible like it's been deliberately constantly muffled because it wasn't that good in the first place.

I do understand why Heavy Metal has gained its cult status, as there are very few of anything similar around when it comes to animated movies. Being relatively unique doesn't make it good though, no matter how much it tries.