Written by “Game of Thrones” co-creator DB Weiss, “Metal Lords” is small and fragmentary even in the style of a Netflix comedy.
A high school comedy about a man obsessed with Ozzie who ropes his only friend to form a posthumous metal duo called SkullFucker to win the Battle of the Bands (and prove his worth to all the popular kids in the suburbs) of Portland), Peter Solet’s “Metal Lords” is small and fragmentary, even in the style of a Netflix hit movie that you feel has already been forgotten.
Screenwriter DB Weiss may be a bona fide top who spent most of his career trying to bring SkullFucker to the screen – “Game of Thrones” co-creator first started shopping for the screenplay before setting foot in Westeros – but for the most part The rhythms of the story in this overly familiar adult epic are as much metal as the cover of Imagine Dragons that SkullFucker rivals reject during the showdown. It’s not until the third act that “Metal Lords” finally cuts with any of them WRATH AGAINST THE MACHINE similarly fueled frustration let’s start a band movies like “We Are the Best!” and “Linda Linda Linda,” and it’s hard to imagine that a Chuck Klosterman cameo or a killer rendition of “War Pigs” would be enough to keep heavy metal purists on the hook for so long.
But their persistence will be rewarded to some degree, and not just because Tom Morello wrote the great SkullFucker song as a ghost. The Devil is in the details when it comes to “Metal Lords”, which turns out to be the savior thanks to a movie that desperately needed the Devil to appear somewhere. Lean and cramped, as much as this scene can be (an awkward piece in which SkullFucker auditions young bassists crystallizes the bad atmosphere of “Sing Street” meets Judas Priest), Sollett’s film radiates vividly with everything. Relative energy of being a homeless child looking for any kind of identity that can anchor you in place. “Metal Lords” may never find the rhythm a movie like this needs to stay in the sweet spot between silly and charming, but there is a persistent core of truth in how loosely its young characters learn to listen to themselves by listening to it. Judas Priest.
That said, the meek narrator Kevin Schlieb (a very subdued Jaeden Martell) would listen to almost anything Hunter Sylvester (electric newcomer Adrian Greensmith) told him. Every spontaneous outsider with a great personality needs an assistant, and that’s exactly the role Kevin plays for his only friend. Kevin’s voice tells us that metal is just the last of many different phases Hunter has gone through since his slimy dad (apparently Brett Gelman) broke up with his mom, but the music fits the anger that inherited from the divorce. Also, the child has the right haircut for it. Becoming a high school metalhead in 2022 has the added benefit of putting Hunter so far away from the popularity index that people have to either accept him for what he is or not at all, and he does not seem to mind that almost everyone chooses the second option. The only thing that matters to Hunter is that, with a crazy good fortune, his shy boyfriend, Kevin, happens to be a completely sick drummer. And so SkullFucker is born.
The only problem is that Kevin and Hunter need a bassist, and they have no friends. Being two-piece worked for bands like Tempel and Lightning Bolt (or White Stripes, as Kevin tacitly points out), but they did not have to compete in Battle of the Bands on Lake Glenwood. When Kevin spotted mouse Emily (Isis Hinesworth) losing her shit in band training one day, he thought he had found the perfect fit – her classic cello would be a rather unexpected sound in a high school talent competition – but have fun with the idea of playing with a girl.
His unparalleled dedication to the classic metallic image leads to some arguably non-metallic choices, which could have been more interesting if Weiss’s naughty screenplay had not been interested in exploring what makes Hunter stand out. Instead, “Metal Lords” clumsily tries to share its attention between the two friends, unfolding all the broken chords and vagrant notes of a half-hearted practical band. There is something clear in the approach to the tunnel-vision that follows the story at the beginning of SkullFucker – finding something to call your own at this age can be really overwhelming – but the erratic flow of the film and the polished comedy leave them Her lovable characters even more seduced by them are for a start.
A well-observed scene where two characters lose their virginity in the parking lot of a synagogue is the rare and funny exception that proves the rule, but other, more serious details (especially Emily’s struggle with depression) are not dealt with in the shade they demand. Strange tangents – including an early car chase that plants the seed for Kevin to become his own man and a delayed detour to a rehab center run by Joe Manganiello – only serve to divert attention from the deepening of the dynamics. which makes us want SkullFucker to kill all his enemies and Hunter’s insistence that “they do not fit” is never given the time he needs to become more than a mantra. He says that metal has to do with sacrifice, but “Metal Lords” sacrifices a lot in trying to stay light as a feather while suffering some of the great ills of adolescence. Only when SkullFucker is behind their instruments does the film go far enough to find something laxative in the same controversy that holds the rest.
Grade: C +
“Metal Lords” is now airing on Netflix.