Number 43 (Vol 2, No.3). This edition is for the week of January 15--21, 2001.
More changes to the Review..... Nolan, Mike and Matt together on front page. "Heavy Metal 2000" reviewed.    by Nolan B. Canova
Can't seem to keep my hands off the format! There are a lot of changes both here and on the way, I scarcely know where to start. First of all, my domain name's announcement and presence on the web is imminent. It would have been today, right now, this instant, but I ran into a few technical problems. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict it will be ready--at least a welcoming page, anyway--next week at this time, perhaps sooner.

I've temporarily done away with the "Letters and Commentary" page and will have my guest commentators (Mike and Matt plus any guests) up front here with me. Don't panic, the page and its graphics are in web limbo, not totally destroyed, I can whip the page up again in an instant if I want to. The deal is this: since I've learned to "code" my own pages, I'm no longer a slave to the restricitons of the previous webpage building program (Easy Designer) and it's file size limits. That's why, up to now, Commentary has had to appear on a separate page. Of course, if I'm deluged with mail suddenly (yeah right), I will still have the option of opening a new page so this one doesn't get too...unweildy. Another added advantage: I've been picking up vibes that a lot of you haven't been bothering to click over to the Commentary page, due to laziness, loading time, whatever; and it's a shame because there's always good stuff there. Hopefully, that won't be a problem now, since it's just a matter of scrolling down. OK, enough of that.

"Heavy Metal: 2000" doesn't quite live up to the legend.              Movie (video) review by Nolan B. Canova
It's hard for any film sequel to live up to its own historical legend, particularly one with the cerebral, artistic and emotional baggage of "Heavy Metal", both the original animated movie (1980) and the excellent magazine it's based on. I've been an unswerving fan of both since their respective inceptions (1977 for the mag). The movie being reviewed here, "Heavy Metal 2000", released on video only, can't even really be called a sequel. More like a "continuation". And even then...

Through the last, what, ten years(?) of "development hell", this movie has always been referred to by its only legit title before release: "Heavy Metal:FAKK ² ", pronounced Fack Two or Fack Squared depending on who you asked. All that was ever known for sure is that it would be one stand-alone story starring Julie Strain (that's Mrs. Kevin Eastman--HM's publisher), with art design by Simon Bisley. The posters looked fabulous! Any behind-the-scenes work shown in the magazine was phenomenal. But, year after year, shortage of funds, whatever, this poor flick never could quite make it out of the gate. To say nothing of the we-won't-know-who's-on-the-soundtrack-until-the-last-second music track woes. (The awesone heavy-rock soundtrack was half the selling point of the original.) Until Halloween of 2000. And even then, there were compromises. The immediate bad mojo was the "release-to-video only" stigma, and the name change to the one title they all swore it would never have: "Heavy Metal 2000".

I was hip to the storyline already because the graphic novel came out last summer to a year ago (I can't remember exactly, it's been so long). Rather than a series of short stories or an "intertwined anthology" (a la "the Loknar" gimmick from the first movie), this story is a self-enclosed single narrative. We learn FAKK ² stands for Federation Assigned Ketogenic Killzone, second level, meaning a lifeless planet or area. (This is explained only once near the beginning of the story--if you were distracted for an instant , you would have missed it, which would be frustrating since it's referred to several more times.)

Basically, what we have here is a search for eternal life. It seems that a race of beings (pronounced Ara-KAY-shuns--gawd knows how it's spelled. I've lost the magazine) have a fountain on their planet that contains a water-like liquid from which the drinker is endowed with immortality. When this race of beings was "defeated" (it's not revealed by who or over what--the water?), the "key" to the chamber--posession of which will drive the posessor mad--that housed the water was cast out into space, where it has been lost for ages. Until now. Our chief antagonist, Tyler (voice of Michael Ironside), is a mining engineer of some sort who, while supervising a dig, investigates a green glow (read: Loknar-like glow) coming from a fissure. As soon as he touches it, he is transformed into a mad-human, killing-machine, obsessed with reaching the sacred chamber.

Enter Julie Strain, our lovely, statuesque, scantily-clad heroine (shades of Taarna). After her home planet is savagely attacked by Tyler and his thugs, she finds among the ruins a reluctant ally in one young male survivor (voiced by Billy Idol). Together, they set out to stop Tyler and avenge the dead. In one sequence, there is another homage to the original movie: when Julie readies herself for a particularly important battle, there's a bit of a ritual with a pool and a sword that, to me, looks straight out of Taarna.

The backgrounds and non-character animations are heavily computer-oriented. At times I felt I was watching Babylon 5 or Phantom Menace outtakes, especially during battle scenes. To me, this detracts from the inherent charm and magic of animation. To better mesh with the cartoon heroes, the computer animations should have been no more photo-real than anything you'd see on, say, "Futurama". As it is, the story and action are WAY too overwhelmed with CGI. There's plenty of violence. Lots and lots of violence. Tiny bit of sex and some nudity. Buckets of violence. Trying to find redeeming features about HM2K, it does compare favorably to other cartoon action films, particularly japanimation-type. It's just too difficult to watch.

Sadly, the soundtrack is the least compelling thing about this movie. The bands include Monster Magnet, Bauhaus, Pantera, Zilch and, not surprisingly, Billy Idol. Plus, many others I'd never heard of. But the worst thing is the music rarely integrated well with the action and nothing was really memorable to me.

In 1980, "Heavy Metal: the Movie" was life-changing for me. Tragically, after a 20-year wait, I cannot say anything close to that about "Heavy Metal 2000".
NOT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.    Running time: 88 minutes. Rated: R.

Late-breaking bulletin for metal fans: Jason Newsted, bassist for Metallica for 14 years, has announced he is leaving the band.
Jason Newsted: "Due to private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love, I must step away from the band. This is the most difficult decision of my life, made in the best interest of my family, myself, and the continued growth of Metallica. I extend my love, thanks, and best wishes to my brothers: James, Lars, and Kirk and the rest of the Metallica family, friends, and fans whom have made these years so unforgettable."


NOLAN'S KITTY KORNER.  I have no real good reason to put these here, but I just received my first digital camera and I needed a subject or two for practice. I'm the proud papa of two adorable furballs who have a magic way of lowering my stress. I refer to them often in conversation, so here world, I introduce Patches (left) and Stripe (right). Stripe is Patches' son and a breeze to photograph. (That's my kneecap in front of Stripe.)    

I tried to get a closer close-up of Patches, but when I got too close with the camera, she'd try to eat the lens, resulting in a series of furry armpit shots. Truly a kitty after my own heart.

Later in the week (and with failing light, unfortunately), I got real lucky, managed to catch her at rest and snapped off this pic. I'm glad I was finally able to share with you these beautiful and affectionate animals.


Mike's Rant.   by Michael A. Smith
Hello gang! A few tidbits for your enjoyment...............shall we begin:

Couldn't help but imagine the first phone call Baltimore Raven quarterback Trent Dilfer made after leading his team to the Super Bowl. I think it went to Tampa Bay Bucs coach Tony Dungy and sounded something like this: "Hello, Tony? It's Trent. Not much, how about you? Listen, I'm going to be in Tampa in a couple weeks, would you like to get together? No, sorry, dinner is out..........I'm going to be playing in the SUPER BOWL then!! What? Sure, I can get you tickets." Oh well, if my Bucs didn't make it, at least the team from my old neighborhood did. Word to Tampa police........please don't assume that just because someone is murdered in Tampa on Super Bowl Sunday that Ray Lewis did it!

P. O. R. N. in the USA
John Mellancamp had several top 10 hits, even a few back when he was John Cougar, but I'm sure he's glad he never attained the status of his former keyboard player. Last week the FBI placed Eric Rosser on it's TEN MOST WANTED LIST, listing him as the major perpetrator of child pornography in this country. Apparently, Rosser did a lot more then sight-see when he toured the world as part of Mellancamp's band. Wow! No wonder Mellancamp is just touring acoustically with his family.

Birthday wishes indeed to a couple of band mates. Happy 38 Scott! Only you and Corey now know the feeling of being south of 40! And I'll bet you're the only one who still has a full head of hair. (Scott's about the only one!---N) Enjoy it! And of course my "pal," my "buddy" Matthew. I do indeed remember your 18th birthday. (Revisited by Matthew last issue.---N) If I recollect it was just a few weeks before our infamous "toga party." Though I believe you have your facts mixed up. I distinctly remember us crashing at your house that night. I remember waking up and seeing you, dressed in a leopard print bra and panties, dancing in front of your mirror. (Before the days of camcorders...DAMN!---N) I remember saying, "Jesus Christ, Matt, stop..........I'm ashamed of you!" Of course, I swore I'd never mention it, so it's still just our little secret. Just like the time you got those two guys to pay for our breakfast at Denny's. But you know me...........a secret is a secret. Happy birthday, my brother. I love you!  (Awww...I'm sure he appreciates your discretion!---N)

Two noted items for us fantasy film fans. This week, "Entertainment Weekly" published the first photo of Toby McGuire in costume as "Spiderman." Needless to say, he has really bulked up and looked pretty impressive. Just a note to add to Nolan's comments from last week. Apparently director Sam Raimi has decided that Spidey's web-spinning talent will come from his radioactive spider bite and not from web shooters he creates. (Yeah, I said all that; maybe I wrote it later in the week, tho---N) And this past weekend saw the long awaited debut of the trailer for the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I must say that I've never read the books and only have the late 70's animated film to go on. But I was quite impressed with what I saw. The trailer even mentions the dates for the final two chapters (2002 and 2003, respectively) so I hope the series does well. Must say I feel luckier then some fans in NYC and LA. It would be indiscreet of me to mention which theatre chain told their projectionists to remove the trailer that was ATTACHED to the print of "13 Days" so they could kiss Disney's ass with a crappy trailer for "Santa Clause 2". But, believe me, they heard it from hundreds of fans on both coasts, many of whom waited for hours for the theatre to open to see the "Lord of the Rings" trailer only to be subjected to Tim Allen!  Poor bastards. Tim Allen and a bad Kevin Costner accent in the same afternoon. (I guess we're lucky it was just one theatre chain that was on their knees to Disney---N)

Sad to report the passing of actress Nancy Parsons. Parsons is best known for her role of Buella Balbricker in the three "Porky's" films. She passed away January 5th of congestive heart failure.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week!

"Mike's Rant" is © 2001 by Michael A. Smith. All contents this page are © 2001 by Nolan B. Canova

page created by Nolan B. Canova