only reason that could possibly explain the making of "Heavy Metal
2000" is the cult following for the 1981 original. Unlike its
predecessor, "Heavy Metal 2000: F.A.K.K. 2" uses traditional cell
animation in combination with CGI, as is the trend nowadays. Similar
methods of animation can be found in Japanimation films "Blood"
and numerous others. But like the original "Heavy
Metal", the sequel is replete with hard rock -- unfortunately
I've never heard of a single one of them.
There's no doubt that the
Japanese are most responsible for any innovations that can presently
be found in the field of animation. When it comes to turning cartoon
into an art form, no one does it better than Japan. So it's also no
surprise to find that the Japanese look at animation as more than a
"cartoon", but as a real movie, with equal concentration on
characters, storylines, and cinematography. Their American brethrens
have either not figured this out yet, or the failures of a couple of
big-budget animation movies (most notably "Titan
A.E.") has effectively delivered a death's knell to future
adult-themed animation. "Heavy Metal 2000" is certainly not the film
that's going to change that notion, that's for sure.
The movie follows the adventures of a
big-busted female name Julie (voiced and modeled after scream queen
Julie Strain), whose planet is ravaged and her people murdered by
the evil Tyler. With an army of former asteroid miners turned
pirates (how did that happen, exactly?) Tyler is in search of a
liquid that grants immortality. Since Julie's people have small
concentrations of this liquid in their body, Tyler is squeezing
every little drop out of them so he can down them like whiskey
shots. Besides slaughtering Julie's people, Tyler has also abducted
her sister for his carnal pleasures. That doesn't sit well with
Julie, who teams up with one of Tyler's former henchman and goes in
search of payback.
The only positive spin I can put on "Heavy
Metal 2000" is that it probably didn't cost all that much to make.
Or if it did cost a lot, the producers got ripped off. I say this
because the film has effectively two quality settings: one is good,
but that's only for the background animation and CGI; the other is
terrible, which unfortunately describes every single character
design in the whole movie. There is very little attempt to make the
characters look anything remotely real. Even if they were going for
the "so fake it's good" vibe, I still can't get over just how badly
the characters are done. We're talking cheap mid-80s quality here,
and certainly nothing animators in the turn of the millennium should
still be producing.
The lack of quality in "Heavy Metal 2000"
aside, the storyline is unabashedly simple. The film works best when
the whole thing is taken as one big joke. There's a shootout at a
bar, part of a longer spaceport sequence, that is possibly the
movie's one big bright spot. What follows is a bloody gunbattle that
shows absolutely no taste or restraint, and it was a blast -- the
only one in the whole movie. Later, there's an assault on a city
wall that ends up being a series of chopped body parts,
decapitations, and bodies cleaved in half. All potentially good
stuff, if only the quality of the animation had been just a little
bit better. I can't stress enough how this one element ruins much of
When the characters finally make it to a planet
where the immortality liquid is being stored, we get the sense that
the filmmakers were trying to go for something more ambitious.
There's a city called the Holy Land, and I swear the building where
the liquid is kept opens up to form an impression of a Jewish
menorah. Unfortunately any attempt at something "bigger" is spoiled
by the Julie character, which is running around in bright red dental
floss that shows her ample animated boobs. (Why are her breasts so
I know it sounds somewhat silly to be
criticizing an animated movie for having characters that are too,
well, cartoonish. Maybe I've just been spoiled by movies like "Jin
Roh" and "Akira",
but what we get in "Heavy Metal 2000" is just not up to snuff,
especially in the year 2000. If anything, the film marks a big step
backwards for American animation. It seems that nowadays unless an
animated film is released with the Disney logo and has cute singing
animals it's doomed to failure. This is unfortunate, because as the
Japanese have proven, animation allows a filmmaker to do things live
filmmaking sometimes just can't do justice to.
It's a bit disheartening to see American
animations like "Iron
Giant" not get anything close to the attention it deserves. I'm
not sure if the market is there for adult-themed animation in the
States, but even Disney films such as "Lilo
and Stitch" has begun to approach more adult-minded storylines.
That has to be a good sign for all animation lovers out there.
Then again, if all else fails, Japanimation is
a fine alternative.