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Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

HEAVY METAL 2000 (2000)

Voices: Julie Strain, Michael Ironside, Billy Idol, Pier Paquette, Sonja Ball, Brady Moffat, Rick Jones

Written By: Kevin Eastman (also graphic novel), Simon Bisley & Eric Talbot (graphic novel)

Directed By: Michael Coldewey, Michel Lemire

The Short Version

Its connections to Heavy Metal are dubious…

…and they should have stayed that way.

A potentially good sci fi story gets lost in sophomoric cheez.

Inconsistent animation doesn’t help, but voice talent keeps things viable.  Just.

Heavy Metal 2000 makes a supreme effort to be low mediocre.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

STALE DORITOS.

The official snack of late night video store runs.  Too bad someone forgot to close up the bag after opening it for a few bites last week.


Pairs Well With...

MILLER HIGH LIFE.

Cheap beer that takes pride in its mediocrity.

“Blind adoration makes me so horny!  Bring me a wench!”


Heavy Metal 2000 had so many things going for it at the drawing board stage.  Then someone seems to have noticed that there was a danger that it might actually turn out to be reasonably decent sci fi flick, and so the wheels were put into motion to – deliberately – turn it into a sophomoric, utterly mediocre hunk of cheez.

What?  You think I’m kidding?

Heavy Metal 2000 – aka Heavy Metal FAKK 2 – draws its origins from a different inspiration set than the one used by the original Heavy Metal.  For one thing, it’s a single coherent science fiction story rather than a series of vignettes held together by a loose framing story.  For another, that story is not based on material that had appeared previously in “Heavy Metal” magazine.  Rather, it’s based on a graphic novel co-authored by Kevin Eastman, who also happened to be the publisher of “Heavy Metal” magazine at the fortuitous moment that allowed him to pick up on the whole “2000” revival trend.  The story’s heroine, meanwhile, is physically based on Eastman’s significant other, scream queen Julie Strain (Battle Queen 2020), who also lends her voice to the character.

So far, none of these are bad things.

The basic premise is solid, giving the standard allowances for sci fi corniness.  Long ago, an ancient race of aliens with control over a secret fount that granted immortality had enslaved the galaxy.  It took eons to defeat them, a process which required locking down the fount of immortality and throwing away the key.  That key, legends say, is hidden somewhere in deep space, and will lead whoever finds it to the now-forgotten world that holds the secret of immortality… but that key also drives anyone who holds it insane.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, someone – in this case, a lowly asteroid miner named Tyler (voiced by Michael Ironside, Total Recall) – finds the key, and wreaks havoc across the galaxy as he makes his way toward the hidden fount of immortality.  During the course of said havoc wreaking, he wipes out a planet, and in so doing earns the enmity of a badass babe named Julie (the aforementioned voice of Julie Strain), who in turn decides to chase Tyler down and make him pay.  It doesn’t take a genius to suppose that there’s going to be a wild, violent ride followed by a showdown at the fount of immortality, and had everyone stuck to that basic plan, Heavy Metal 2000 could have absolutely worked as an adult animated adventure.

But then some idiot decided that it needed to have more of a “Heavy Metal” look and feel to it, and just about everything turned to crap.

Had the references and the stylistics been kept simple, it could have worked.  Having Julie dress up like Taarna for the final battle is a nice touch.  The utterly gratuitous nude shower scene, Julie’s topless sex scene, and bloody violence across the board all fit right in without disturbing the overall feng shui of the story.  (Yes, I said that.)  The idea of having a Heavy Metal style soundtrack where the score is often broken up by inserts of rock music would have been fine… except for the fact that the music mix sounds like it was done by a twelve year old with a horrifically tin ear for the crap end of metal that absolutely never, ever complements the action on the screen at all and always feels like a random drop of whatever some intern could get the rights to.

And then it gets really bad.

A caricature bad guy is one thing; hell, it’s to be expected in a flick like this, and if anyone can pull the voice for one of those guys off without breaking a sweat, it’s Michael Ironside.  But our main baddie Tyler is taken so far over the top that he ceases to be a character at all and instead looks to be the lightning rod for a contest amongst the filmmakers to see how they can make him an even bigger asshole from one scene to the next.  The in-public (but interrupted) rape at the bar is really the end of it for me, because it is the ultimate proof that no one’s really trying anymore.  This isn’t a character.  This isn’t a villain.  This is a bad joke that just isn’t funny.

Meanwhile, because shower scenes and a heroine who looks just like Julie Strain obviously aren’t enough, the script continually casts the story aside for things like The Most Obnoxious Sex Doll In The Universe, random lizard copulation, and enough inserts of a junior high school student’s idea of porn to make sure that the audience fully understands that this is meant to be “adult” animation that isn’t afraid to be “nasty” and “push the envelope.”  Or make stupid anus jokes.  Yeah.  Sure.

To be fair, though, it’s not just the writing and the music mix that drag what could have been a cool movie down.  The art department also gets in on the act, randomly mixing computer animation with the hand drawn stuff that makes up the majority of the picture, a trick that is incredibly obvious every time it gets pulled and that is utterly jarring to say the least.  The resulting frames are never pretty by anyone’s definition, and as is so often the case with live action films, as well, the bad computer animation ruins every scene it touches.

So why, then, would anyone still want to watch Heavy Metal 2000, aside from having a bad case of tastelessness?

Because even though much of its potential is ruined, there’s still enough of it that shines through the garbage to be noticeable.  Look past the stupid sex bot and the villain who forgets how to be a real character, and there’s still a decent story hiding back there.  Sure, Tyler sucks, but Michael Ironside doesn’t, and Julie Strain does a fabulous job voicing what is essentially a sci-fi’d up badass version of her fantasy self.  And yes, that’s Billy Idol – you know, “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” Billy Idol – voicing the mysterious alien sage with such superb skill that one has to wonder why more people weren’t out to hire him for this kind of work.  And when it’s not being wrecked by drops of computer crap or random humping lizards, the hand drawn animation’s pretty good.  So yes, despite a concerted effort to ruin it, there is still a movie here.

There just isn’t one that I’m going to recommend to the average viewer.  Frat boys?  Go for it.  Fans of Julie Strain’s standard repertoire?  Sure, why not?  Regular sci fi animation fans?  Not so much.  Fans of the first film?  Not enough of a qualifier.  People who like to watch movies while drunk?  Okay; that has promise.

Bottom line, Heavy Metal 2000 could have been something cool, but it gets dragged down to the depths of low frat boy mediocrity by a creative team too caught up in trying to outdo the “Heavy Metal” name by getting nastier with it.  The story suffers at every turn, the animation's inconsistent, and the music mix is just plain awful.  Nevertheless, for a certain brand of brave soul who comes fortified with cheap alcohol, there still might be something worthwhile here.  Just.  To the chagrin of the filmmakers, I’m sure.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, January, 2013


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