Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Robert Trujillo, Lars Ulrich
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English
Running Time: 140
Date: 01/21/2004

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Masters of Puppets

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Funny, powerful and energizing, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is like a "Behind the Music" special but with humanity and depth. The 140-minute documentary tells one of those true stories that's too bizarre to have been invented for a fiction film. Metallica, the most popular, durable and consistent metal band in history -- not to mention one of its loudest and most aggressive -- undergoes group therapy while working on their newest album, 2003's St. Anger.

Singer/guitarist James Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich, who have been seen glaring and scowling in countless rock magazine photos, now pour their hearts out to each other, exploring their feelings over whether a guitar solo is trendy.

Celebrated documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost) keep the irony at bay and instead plunge headfirst into this gurgling sea of acid emotions. They cut right to the core for hard times, like Hetfield checking into rehab, postponing the record for almost a year; to the good times, like hiring new bass player Robert Trujillo. Jilted former bassist Jason Newstead and Dave Mustaine lay bare their doubts and fears, and record producer Bob Rock and band therapist Phil Towle round out the cast.

This extraordinary film deserves mention alongside such great rock movies as Gimme Shelter and Stop Making Sense.

Paramount has released an excellent 2-disc DVD set worthy of this must-have film. The most important factor, the sound, is state of the art; it's clean and loud and does not rattle my Bose speakers. The first disc comes with two commentary tracks, a fairly serious, insightful one by the filmmakers and a silly one by the band members, as well as a pair of trailers. The second disc comes with 40 additional scenes (they do not have a "play all" option, so I was unable to determine the running time), footage from film festivals (including the San Francisco International Film Festival), interviews and a music video.

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