Coming of age movie that will appeal to more than just metalheads
Heavy metal music? A battle of the bands competition? A high school love story? No no no!!
That was my initial reaction when seeing early promos for this movie. My tolerance for heavy metal music is about the same as my tolerance for bagpipes…extremely low! Having seen countless movies about music groups going up against each other, I had no urge to see another one. And another movie that included a teen romance? No thank you!
However, my attitude changed when I learned that Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss was behind the movie and that it starred gifted actor Jaeden Martell (Bill Denborough in It) as one of the ‘Metal Lords.’ I was still a little cautious going in, but as I factored in the talents involved, my expectations were raised.
Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The movie is less about heavy metal, high school competitions, and teenage crushes, and more about identity, the need to feel included, and the power of friendship. Sure, these are also themes that have been covered in movies before, but with a likeable bunch of characters, empathetic writing, and a sharp sense of humour, Metal Lords manages to entertain, despite being somewhat generic.
The movie focuses on Kevin (Adrian Greensmith) and Hunter (Jaeden Martell), the frontman and drummer of their fledgling heavy metal band, ‘Skullf****er.’ Neither teen is widely accepted at their school although Kevin seems to be mostly fine with this as he rebels against his teachers, stands up to his peers, and happily thrashes out his music at one of his classes ‘show and tell’ sessions.
Hunter seems less at ease with the outcast position that has been forced upon him because of his music tastes and friendship with Kevin. But he remains loyal to both his music and his friend, despite the bullying he endures as a consequence.
Metal Lords features all the usual hormonal issues you would expect from a movie of this sort. Hotheaded Kevin eventually loses his cool with the kids that have been tormenting him and Hunter starts to get horny for a couple of girls in his school, including Emily, who later joins the band. As expected, there is a falling out between bandmates too, when Emily starts to get in the way of Kevin and Hunter’s friendship. These are genre tropes we have seen in other high school/band movies as is the betrayal of one of the protagonists when they decide to join a rival band.
In lesser movies, you would probably roll your eyes at the predictability on screen but because of the winning performances of the cast, Metal Lords manages to entertain rather than frustrate when the story beats play out in a familiar fashion.
The script is rarely groundbreaking, but as it deals with subjects that can resonate with many of us – bullying, parental rejection, the struggles of fitting in – it still manages to appeal. It’s because of this that the movie works, so even if you’re not a fan of heavy metal music, you should still find something to relate to when watching.
Of course, if you are a fan of such heavy metal bands as Judas Priest, Metallica, and Black Sabbath, you will get an extra kick out of the movie. Posters for these bands adorn the boys’ bedroom walls, the soundtrack is filled with their music, and there are cameos from several metal legends, including Kirk Hammett, Scott Ian and Rob Halford.
If you’re a metalhead yourself, you might also relate to the high school experiences of Kevin and Hunter, be that because your music tastes made you a rebel at school or because they made you an outcast (or perhaps even both).
Overall, the movie is warm and funny, with some kick-ass music (if that’s what you’re into), and a group of protagonists that are rather endearing, despite the anarchic tendencies of one of them. Not all of the characters are well-written – the movie only scratches the surface when dealing with Emily’s mental health issues – but they are still relatable, even if we only learn the basics about each of them.
The movie isn’t original and it probably won’t rock your world but it is enjoyable for most of the run time. Therefore, you should have a good time with this one, even if, like me, you do have a low tolerance level for thrash metal music and high school movie cliches.
Read More: Metal Lords Ending Explained
Verdict - 7/10