METALLICA: Some Kind of Monster

In the METALLICA tradition of taking of progressively bigger projects, the band decided to self-finance and release a documentary that captures their lives for three years. Some Kind of Monster follows the band through Jason Newsted’s departure, group therapy sessions, James Hetfield’s time in rehab, the songwriting process for St. Anger, the recruitment of new bassist Robert Trujillo, and ends with their first show in support of St. Anger. It is an intimate look into the band’s struggles during this time period, warts and all. The foundation of the movie is the band’s group therapy sessions where they attempt to deal with the blow of Jason Newsted’s departure, the future of the band, and their relationships with each other. The saddest aspect of these sessions is that it clearly shows that they are clueless as to what made them so special in the first place. And it doesn’t help that their therapist comes off as this opportunistic, scumbag who attempts to crawl his way into a lifetime career “coaching” the band. Some of the scenes in Some Kind of Monster make you feel as if their vulnerability and insecurity during this time period allows them to be led around by others (i.e. producer Bob Rock and therapist Phil Towle). A low point in the movie is to see their new improvisational approach to writing and recording an album. The three horsemen come into the studio with zero material and had all of the material co-written by producer/session bassist Bob Rock. Just watching James recording his horrid vocal lines, Lars attempting to come up with strong drum patterns, and the band being satisfied with their sub-par attempt at heavy, bluesy rock is painful to watch. Some Kind of Monster does not present any surprises for old fans as METALLICA’s charismatic personalities remain relatively the same as in the old days; Lars loves the camera and attention, James is the low-key man that holds it all together, and Kirk is the least ego-driven, friendly guy of the bunch. The only difference now is that they are creatively tapped out and sadly have no clue. The most opportunistic aspect of the movie comes in the form of the scene where Lars and Dave Mustaine are discussing their tumultuous relationship. They are both clearly sad and hurt, especially Mustaine. However, you wonder why this scene had to even come about as it has nothing to really do with the making of St. Anger or METALLICA at the time. It just comes off as an attempt to add more drama to the movie and exploit the highly publicized rift between METALLICA and Dave Mustaine. Some really cool scenes include the auditions for a new bass player that include a very cool montage of all of the bassists playing “For Whom the Bells Tolls.” Perhaps the most sobering moment of the movie is a scene where Jason Newsted is being interviewed and expresses his disgust at the idea of group therapy. He poignantly brings up the good point that he can’t believe that these four longtime friends who had gone through so much together could not meet alone and work out their differences. Producers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have put together a well-produced film that makes Some Kind of Monster come off as more of a “movie” than a “documentary” at times. On a personal level, it is nice to see the band work through a lot of personal issues and to see James Hetfield come out of rehab and straighten his life out. However, the biggest question that lingers in the minds of old diehard fans is “Why did they make and release this?” (IFC Films)

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