Metal Lords (2022) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): It doesn’t rock that much

Netflix film “Metal Lords”, which was released a few days ago, often feels to me like watching too much of myself. No, I am not a heavy metal music fan at all, but one of my acquaintances recently advised me that my writing has been rather too repetitive from time to time, and that made me discern more of a number of glaring flaws in the film besides how heavy-handed my writing often is. Besides being quite predictable in terms of story and characters, the movie sometimes tries a little too hard to make a point on its main characters’ enthusiasm toward heavy metal music, and that was rather annoying instead of generating some laughs from me.

At the beginning, we are introduced to Kevin Schlieb (Jaden Martell) and Hunter Sylvester (Adrian Greensmith), and we get to know a bit about these two adolescent kids’ friendship. Although they are quite different from each other in many aspects, these two lonely teenagers have spent lots of time together in the basement of Hunter’s house for playing some heavy metal music, and they even already formed their own band, though they are its only members at present.

While Hunter prefers to be alone as your typical sullen teenager who has been deeply obsessed with heavy metal music, Kevin wants to hang around more with others in contrast, so he goes to a big evening party while reluctantly accompanied by Hunter. Although their experience of the party is not exactly pleasant, they come to learn that there will be soon a band competition at the school, and Hunter becomes quite determined to win at the competition after clashing a bit with another school band which happens to be playing at the party.

Kevin is understandably not so sure about how to prepare for the competition, but, as a kid with considerable musical talent, he gradually gets better once he starts to practice drums in the school, and then he comes across someone who may give some extra help to him and his friend. That person is a girl named Emily Spector (Isis Hainsworth), and, as listening to how skillfully she plays her cello, Kevin becomes convinced that she really should join his band.

Not so surprisingly, Hunter is not so pleased about having another member in their band, and he becomes more displeased as his best friend is getting closer to Emily. In his petty viewpoint tinged with misogyny, Emily is nothing but a trouble in his heavy metal paradise, and that naturally leads to the growing strain in his relationship with Kevin, who becomes more tired of how his friendship with Hunter has been going nowhere except more troubles for both of them.

Around that narrative point, the screenplay by D.B. Weiss, who is mainly known for HBO TV drama series “Game of Thrones”, attempts to push the conflicts among its three main characters to the level of absurdity, and that is where the movie becomes grating instead of amusing. While the scenes involved with Kevin and Emily’s budding romance are sweet and intimate, the scenes associated with Hunter’s increasingly troubled behaviors are merely distracting, and it is often alarming and embarrassing to see how he often goes over the top just for being true to the spirit of heavy metal. Observing how much he behaves like a big jerk with serious mental issues throughout the film, you may wonder about how the hell Kevin has tolerated Hunter for years.

At least, the better parts of the film compensate for its weak aspects to some degree. I enjoyed the tentative romantic relationship between Kevin and Emily, and there is a nice scene where Kevin plays drums while Emily dexterously complements that with her sensitive cello performance. At one point later in the story, Kevin finds himself tempted by some other girl, but then he receives a sort of advices from four certain figures which will be familiar to you if you know a bit about heavy meatal music, and that is the most humorous moment in the film in my trivial opinion.

In the end, the story expectedly culminates to the climactic point where our three main characters must band together for performing something awesome in front of many schoolmates of theirs, and the movie finally rocks enough while being predictable as before. Although there is still not much surprise except one nasty comic moment at the end of this climactic scene, the heavy metal song performed during this scene is fairly good and loud, and you may find yourself nodding with approval.

The three main cast members fill their broad archetype roles as much as they can, though not all of them are successful. Jaeden Martell and Isis Hainsworth click well with each other during several key scenes between their characters, and Hainsworth is especially effective when her character makes a very striking appearance around the climatic part of the film. In case of Adrian Greensmith, he is unfortunately demanded to overact without much substance to fill his character, and I wish he were instructed to dial down his acting a bit more.

Directed by Peter Sollett, “Metal Lords” is not wholly without enjoyable parts, but it is not entertaining enough to recommend, and my mind has been already rummaging out several other similar movies which did a better job in comparison. The first movie to come to my mind was a little Finnish comedy film called “Heavy Trip” (2018), and, as far as I remember, that comedy movie has much more wit and humor in addition to going all the way for more laughs. In fact, I feel some need to see it again, and I really think you should watch it instead.

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