Metal Lords Review: ‘Metal Lords’ is a musical coming-of-age story. Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) are close friends and co-founders of Skullf***er, a fledgling heavy metal band. Hunter is clearly more committed to the band, as evidenced by his room full of rock paraphernalia.
Kevin is just along for the trip, at least at first. They’re basically misfits in school. Fanboying over Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden, it appears, is no longer a hot topic of conversation. Mollycoddle, on the other hand, has a lead singer named Clay.
They are the quintessential popular kids of the school, with their lovely smiles and Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons covers. Hunter and Kevin start preparing after learning that the famous Battle of the Bands would be held that year. They still need a bassist to complete the trio, and Emily (Isis Hainsworth), a young Scottish-American cellist with rage issues, appears to be the one.
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🎸Rock on, METAL LORDS. 🎸
Jaeden Martell, Isis Hainsworth & Adrian Greensmith will star in D. B. Weiss’s comedy about two kids who start a heavy metal band—in a school where exactly two kids care about heavy metal.
Directed by Peter Sollett, the film will play Netflix in 2021. pic.twitter.com/QSYqLgIFHR
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) February 25, 2021
‘Metal Lords’ (2022) Comedy-Drama Movie Review
The opening 40 minutes or so of “Metal Lords,” a coming-of-age comedy with a heavy metal theme, are pretty conventional. These early sequences do an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the film. They also lack the charm as well as the patience and emotional generosity that the rest of the film possesses.
However, the script, written by D.B. Weiss, co-creator of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” does take a moment to establish some canned fraternal tension between Kevin and Hunter (Jaeden Martell and Adrian Greensmith), two high school buddies who struggle to form a dazzling metal band in time for their high school’s Battle of the Bands competition.
Thankfully, director Peter Sollett (“Raising Victor Vargas,” “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) slows down sufficiently in the second half of the film to sell this very Gen X fantasy about the enduring allure (and character-building side benefits) of being an adolescent metalhead.
Emily (Isis Hainsworth), a Scottish-American cellist who Kevin likes but Hunter doesn’t because, ew, ladies, puts Kevin and Hunter’s friendship to the test in “Metal Lords.” By the time “Wayne’s World” director Penelope Spheeris reintroduced the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club for her Amblin-produced “Little Rascals” reboot, this type of feel-good/formulaic development story had become outdated. Hunter does, however, unwittingly educate Kevin on the actual meaning of metal.
“Metal Lords” finally concentrates on all three main characters rather than their restricted roles in propelling the plot to its predetermined climax. Although the picture is cinematic comfort food, its makers earn our trust and hit all of the necessary beats along the way.
Hunter’s bold personality, on the other hand, dominates the film’s uninspiring first half. Hunter ultimately grows on you as a counterpoint for other characters, but at first (and often), he steamrolls Kevin, his best friend, to make up for his own (very minor) daddy issues.
Hunter has practically everything he wants in life, but he can’t relate to his affluent divorcee father, Dr. Sylvester (Brett Gelman). Hunter’s connection with Dr. Sylvester, on the other hand, acquires a lived-in sensitivity that makes even their most vehement arguments feel plausible.
Hunter was once identified by the plethora of band posters that adorned his basement walls, including early metal bands such as Judas Priest and Anthrax, as well as modern artists such as Amon Amarth and Opeth. Hunter’s perception of what’s cool in metal is quickly revealed to be outdated.
He isn’t chastised or pampered as a result of his impolite behaviour, which is fortunate. And, rather than being a plot device, Emily and Kevin’s complicated romance becomes a significant element of the film’s story.
After Emily and Kevin have sex in the back of her family’s vehicle around 43 minutes into “Metal Lords,” there is a clear turning point. Kevin joins her in her bedroom, where Emily has a bit more control: they have a staring contest, and he lies down on top of her at her request. Emily is still largely a stock character, but her genuine and realistic show of puppy love for Kevin demonstrates that the film’s designers know when to ease into certain predictable story contrivances.
Even Dr. Sylvester and Hunter’s problematic relationship is well-developed thanks to the film’s superb ensemble cast and comic timing in a few key scenes that are loving, humorous, and well-paced enough to sell the film’s otherwise artificial drama. Sollett and Weiss do a good job of portraying teenagers as we (or at least some of us) would want to picture them rather than as they are.
Perhaps you’re wondering what this has to do with heavy metal music. Thankfully, Netflix’s “Metal Lords” isn’t about the true meaning of metal, as Linus may claim, but rather how to appreciate being in a band, because appreciating your comrades inspires good performances (among other things).
Despite everything, the climactic Battle of the Bands scene is satisfying because the youngsters not only can play their instruments, but the song they perform is a really catchy and unapologetically infantile metal anthem written by Weiss and produced by executive music producer Tom Morello. “Machinery of Torment” is a fitting title for this song.
Later in the film, Morello makes an appearance as one of the celebrity angels and demons perched on Kevin’s frail shoulders. It’s a great sequence, not because of any one cameo, but because of how long it lasts and how amusing it is to see a lot of rock titans remade as role models. That’s not really a novel idea, but it’s articulated well enough here, so why not?
Who Wins the Battle of the Bands at the End of the Movie?
Kevin and Hunter’s lives, like those of most other high school students, are plagued by bullies, unsympathetic parents, and irritated teachers. Hunter is heavy metal’s, Dewey Finn. He exhibits his affinity for the genre in a variety of ways, from Satan worship to dressing up like a Kiss member.
Kevin, on the other hand, isn’t as enthused about heavy metal as his pal. They are Glenwood Lake High School students. They learn about the Battle of the Bands from Clay while at a party. Hunter makes fun of Clay and his band’s songs, proclaiming that Skullf***er will win the competition. The boys begin a desperate search for a bassist after registering with Dean Swanson.
Hunter buys Kevin high-end drum equipment with his father’s credit card without telling him, despite Kevin’s initial apprehension about making music. At first, it’s all about Hunter’s desires. And music is a way for them to communicate. However, as the movie progresses, Kevin discovers he has a hidden knack for drumming. Emily’s attention is drawn to his after-school training sessions at school.
They collaborate on an instrumental cover of ‘War Pigs.’ When Kevin realises Emily could be the bassist they’re looking for, he approaches Hunter, who immediately dismisses the notion, presumably due to chauvinist beliefs that girls can’t play in heavy metal bands. He also believes that a cellist cannot play bass.
Emily and Kevin begin to develop a love relationship. Hunter and Kevin have a falling out after Hunter insults Emily in public, causing her wrath. And their band appears to have disbanded. Kevin then agrees to perform at a wedding with Mollycoddle.
Hunter disguises himself as a Kiss member and attempts to crash the wedding, but he is apprehended before he can do so. Hunter’s father then sends him to rehab, where he encounters Troy Nix, a hero of Hunter’s.
Kevin eventually lets Hunter out, along with Mollycoddle’s drummer, who was also a rehab inmate. Hunter apologises to Emily, but she does not appear to be interested in joining their band. Mollycoddle plays a cover of Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” at the Battle of the Bands, and it is warmly received.
Emily appears on stage, dressed like a rocker and playing an electric cello, just as Kevin and Hunter are about to take the stage. However, the dean says the three can’t perform with a name like Skullf***er, so Emily devises a scheme to change the name to Skullflower. The audience erupts in applause as they sing their original song, “Machinery of Torment.”
Hunter, on the other hand, is injured when several pieces of sound equipment fall on him. Mollycoddle is later revealed to have won the Battle of the Bands. Skullflower members, on the other hand, are unconcerned about it since they know this is only the beginning for them. They start playing “War Pigs” again as the movie concludes.
Stream ‘Metal Lords’ (2022) movie at Netflix.