Metal Hurlant Chronicles

Directors - Guillaume Lubrano (all 12 episodes)

Cast - Rutger Hauer, Michael Biehn

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 3

Distributor - Shout Factory

Reviewer - Steven Lewis

Date - 05/23/15

Film (5/5)

 

The Metal Hurlant Chronicles is based off the French science fiction, fantasy and horror comic book anthology series that developed in the mid-1970's by comic artist Jean Girard and Phillippe Druillet. Selected from some of the comic's short stories, Guillaume Lubrano crafts the unique tales into the Metal Hurlant (translates to Howling Metal in English) Chronicles for television adaptation while also giving the stories more girth and life off the popular and colorful pages of the comic. The stories are generally fantastic with ultra-violent material and usually contain a head-spinning twist at the end.  Each story is connected by the fragment of a living planet, hurling endlessly through time and space, spreading madness, suffering, and pretenses amongst those who bare witness it's damned flight.

 

If you're familiar with the French Metal Hurlant, you are familiar with the American counterpart entitled Heavy Metal. Both comic series rely on the violence and science fiction to attract and bring in readers, but what I remember mostly about Heavy Metal was the eroticism. Busty, seductive vixens and sexy femme fatales displayed and dressed with the bare minimal and holstering a weapon of sorts on the front page of the comics and in the animated movie while in all types of various scenarios including high octane, high erotic ones.  Metal Hurlant condones the same material, more so with each publication throughout the years, giving the French-US magazines that much more popularity.  The televised Chronicles seem to only scratch the surface with eroticism.  By dressing the women in racy outfits and providing some sultry love scenes, the intent here is to focus more on the science fiction and fantasy storylines, yet Guillaume Lubrano isn't a total nudity dodging director as he faithfully incorporates a couple of topless moments, of busty seductresses of course, well placed into a couple of stories.

 

The complete two season, 12 uncut episode anthology that made it's U.S. debut on the Sy-Fy channel in 2014 certainly introduced a variety of dimensions including deep space ventures, cut throat westerns, and a surreal blend between reality and fantasy. The effects to portray the various worlds of Metal Hurlant comes off a bit hack-like and cheesy and you'll encounter better visuals off other Sy-Fy channel backed projects.  Though not the best, the Chronicles' effects give the anthology a particular charm that resembles respectfully more toward the graphic artistry of the comics making the cheesy effects all that more welcoming to behold.

 

An odd selection of under the radar stars headline some of the stories seem to keep many within a genre that dare not to stray.  The most famous of names are the blonde haired, blue-eyed Rutger Hauer ("Blade Runner") and Michael Biehn ("The Terminator") and they overly prove their worth in science fiction work, working their characters to create a pinpoint tone for the story.  Other stars include Scott Adkins, Dominique Pinow, Michael Jai White, and James Masters; all of whom are casted in more than one episode. 

 

Video / Audio (5/5)

 

Being visually stunning and certainly aimed to please, this 3-disc Blu-ray set from Shout! Factory delivers a sharp-looking 1080p Widescreen transfer in 1.78:1 picture.  Even with some of the low grade CGI effects seemingly and heavily dropped into the frames, the cleanliness still manages to look breathless.  The intensified use of, and well executed of, various coloring that intentionally blanket the frames becomes an over exaggeration motif and becomes character-like in some of the plot lines and to also be implemented for subtle sci-fi overtones. A basically flawless presentation that certainly won't hinder your binge watching of all 12 episodes.

 

Shout! Factory outshines again on the mix with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Sometimes being too audibly powerful creates it's own issues and with a revolving door of science-fiction action clouting your ear drums in the foreground, some of the dialogue becomes muffled or lost in the background.  This happens very seldom and most fans won't notice. There lies some obvious dubbing especially in the last episode on disc two in episode Back to Reality that didn't quite sync as well as one would hope.  Still, a wonderful mix with an array of tonal sounds and ambiance that create space-cold moods. Optionally, a 2.0 mix of English and French is also available.

 

Extras (3/5)

 

The extras consist of a total of 7 episode featurettes and 3 interviews with cast members on disc one and two along with the English episodes.  Disc three jettisons away from the first two discs and provides four French language episodes Red Light/Cold Heart Facts, The Last Khondor, The Second Son, and Back to Reality. Each episode does include the option for English subtitles.

 

Also on disc three lies a panel discussion from the San Diego International Comic Con with director Guillaume Lubrano and actors James Marsters, Michael Jai White, Darren Shahlavi, and Larnell Stovall. Lastly, motion comics of all 12 episodes are available as well.

 

Overall

 

Metal Hurlant Chronicles fits right in with the Metal Hurlant / Heavy Metal realm seeking the twisted fantasy portion of our minds and having our eyes glaze over with sharp sci-fi excitement. Shout! Factory put in amazing work into this release that hardly received any coverage while on television here in the States. I would recommend this release for those who adores the Heavy Metal dominion or who embraces the spark of worldly curiosity while passing by the release's generic Blu-ray cover.