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Film review: Heavy Metal

Published: Tuesday, June 25 1996 12:00 a.m. MDT

It's called "Heavy Metal" but "Lightweight Aluminum" is more like it.

Animated sci-fi erotica, this feature-length cartoon, based on the fantasies printed in the magazine of the same name, is composed of perverse, male-oriented sex-sword-and-sorcery tales that are sort of an adolescent mix of "The Twilight Zone" and Playboy videos.

The film begins with a souped-up Corvette floating in outer space, giving the impression that one has wandered into "Car Wars."

Then the auto lands on Earth and we begin to follow the adventures of a glowing, green ball that alternately destroys people and turns them into perfect (by "Heavy Metal" standards) examples of fantasy men and women — men being muscle-bound monsters and women being voluptuous sex objects.

The ball falls into the hands of various characters in an anthological series of short stories, which range from the adventures of a strange anti-hero cabbie in a burned-out futuristic New York to a courtroom drama that turns into a dull chase through an animated metal jungle to a "Wizard of Oz"-like yarn about two children changed into fantasy adults with a "bring-me-the-broomstick-of-the-wicked-witch"-style mission, etc.

The last is about Tarnak the Defender, summoned to help a dying world from being trampled by a cruel dictator, but the "Defender" is more of an "Avenger," as lots of red ink spurts from the bad guys.

A lush Elmer Bernstein score alternates with metal-rock sounds of Black Sabbath, Nazareth, Blue Oyster Cult, etc. (Legal rights to the songs were tied in up lawsuits, which is why the film was out of print for so long.)

You have to wonder about a bunch of animators sitting around drawing cartoon characters having sex, and all the wise-cracking dialogue here doesn't change the fact that this is simply exploitation on a very juvenile level.

"Heavy Metal" is rated R for violence, sex, nudity, profanity and vulgarity.

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