Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)

Documentary, Music
James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo
A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink.
Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Metallica survives one of their more turbulent periods.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 30 Jul 2004 Released:
  • 25 Jan 2005 DVD Release:
  • $1.0M Box office:
Great documentary about humorless band5/10

I am a huge fan of early Metallica. They lost me, though, on the Metallica album (the black album, the first sign that they were turning into Spinal Tap). While this documentary is great film, I have to say that it just makes clear that Lars and James are utterly devoid of humor when it comes to themselves. At the film festival screening the theatre was filled with laughter as they revealed themselves to be petulant children who have a long way to go to reach maturity. Poor Kirk and the new guy, Rob Trujillo. There were only two times when Lars spoke really honestly in a way that didn't seem manipulative, and James never gave up anything real except when he was with his kids. The $40,000 a month counselor (he is not a trained psychiatrist or psychologist) was right out of Spinal Tap. FYI- the biggest cheers erupted after every Jason Newsted interview because he is just straight up, real, and honest. I wish him a lot of success because he seems to truly be all about playing music. Believe me, I applaud Metallica for being willing to let people see this truly great film, but as for Lars and James, lighten up for crying out loud. Therapy isn't only about expressing your feelings and expecting everyone to pat you on the back, it's also about learning to admit when you're wrong or being a jerk and laughing at yourself.
The Monster lives9/10

First of all, let me say I'm a Metallica fan so this review is unevitably biased. But then again, what review isn't? We all know Metallica are great business men, so the first question that arises is: is this movie a marketing tool? Even though I'm sure the movie will be a commercial success, my answer to the question is no.

Metallica's record company wanted the movie to accompany Metallica's 2003 release St. Anger as a weekly series of 30 minute reality TV to get the word out about the album. Metallica not only rejected that idea, but even decided to buy out the record company and release this a year later as a movie instead. We can only thank them for it.

This movie is certainly not a commercial for Metallica. We get to see the ugly side of Metallica. And it's ugly alright. We see Lars calling James a dick, shouting 'fuck' right in his face and getting drunk while selling his millions of dollars art collection. We see James yelling at Lars, slamming the door, checking in for rehab and after that demanding everyone to only work from 12 to 4. We see Kirk being a sissy the entire movie.

The title of the movie refers to James; he explains how Metallica has been a beast to him over the years. But Metallica has undoubtedly been a beast to others as well. Dave Mustaine is one of the most successful musicians in heavy metal with his band Megadeth, but apparently is still haunted by him being fired from Metallica. Nevertheless, the movie is ultimately about James' 'coming of age', changing from an angry alcoholic to a man who has managed to balance his personal life with the life in Metallica.

I have one beef with the movie. Around the end Lars says Metallica have proved that it's possible to make an angry record through positive energy. While I believe him when he says that, I do have to say I hardly saw any of that energy in the movie. In fact, it's a small miracle they managed to finish the album at all.

Even though not everyone is a fan of Metallica, I can recommend everyone to see this movie. See, this movie is not about the music. It's about people. People who struggle with themselves, with each other and with the outside world. It's also a unique look inside the workings (and non-workings) of a world class band and into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. This documentary is a landmark that upstages the album which creation it was originally supposed to document.
Great documentary - but it hurts10/10
This is probably the first documentary about Metallica that didn't make you feel good. All of the older documentaries show a band that was personable and fun-loving, rocking like no one else can. They showed us the Metallica we were proud to call ourselves fans of. But with Some Kind of Monster , we see a band full of weather-beaten rock stars, burned out (an understatement), tired, desperate, and aggravated. It broke my heart to watch this, but it was a damn fine documentary.

Frankly, I'm glad this was released. Because the average semi-informed fan of Metallica (like myself), has only seen the headlines over the past ten years - which served to make the band look like they were becoming complete pricks. I love Metallica. But the wall of negative stuff that was thrown at us in the past decade has tainted our view of the band. This documentary straightens some of it out. While I don't believe that was the goal of the film, it is a fortunate side-effect.

I know the Metallica of the 80's is gone - beer flying, 9-minute epic metal songs, and the long hair - but hopefully, our favorite rockers still have the fire within to bring us a few more great albums. Metallica showed the world that heavy metal (and I mean *heavy*) didn't have to use gimmicks and make-up to be mainstream. All it needed was the right attitude and talented musicians to play it. I've seen them live nearly 20 times. Nobody can do it like Metallica. Nobody.
Honest portrayal of a band on the edge10/10

I saw this film at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, and was fortunate enough to hear some Q&A from the director after.

The two words that best describe Some Kind of Monster are "brutally honest." This is a no-holds-barred look at a band that has played together for two decades and is on the verge of disintegration from internal conflict, external pressures and creative stagnation. We see the members of Metallica not as icons, but as flawed individuals in a close, but often tumultuous relationship that has lasted longer than many marriages. At a fundamental level the seem to love each other, but as with many long-term relationships, they sometimes reach the point that they cannot stand the sight of one another.

Can they survive? Well, the mystery is obviously abated by knowing how the story ends (the production of the album St. Anger and the subsequent tour); but it in no way detracts from this interesting examination of the process of separation and reconciliation.

Central to the story is not only tension the band members experience in once again trying to bottle the lightning of musical success, but the fundamental changes taking place in James Hetfield's life as he enters rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. While Hetfield's personal battle takes place off-screen, we see the powerful impact it is having on the rest of the group.

Some truly standout moments include the interaction between Lars Ulrich and his father Torben (an amusing and brutally honest character); the long-delayed meeting between Lars and Dave Mustaine (who was kicked out of the band in the early 80s and went on to found Megadeath); a long band meeting which consists mainly of screaming obscenities; the band's search for a new bassist; and the almost surreal scene of Hetfield attending his daughter's ballet recital.

If you wish to see the members of Metallica as icons, then Some Kind of Monster is probably not for you; however, if you would like an up-close view of them as very real human beings, then I highly recommend this film. Love them or hate them, you will bring something away from Some Kind of Monster.
Definitely a must see for anyone with only a casual interest in Rock music9/10
I don't know how they do it, but although Metallica lost me as a fan many years ago (sometime in the mid 90's), they still manage to release DVDs that are totally intriguing. "Cunning Stunts" was an intense concert movie that let you feel the energy of a Metallica gig, where even songs from "Load" and "ReLoad" sounded good. Now, "Some Kind Of Monster" is something even more special. Really special. As far as rock films go, this one is right up there with "The Kids Are Alright" and "The Last Waltz".

Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky are always there in time to catch the most important facial expressions, quotes and actions. The movie almost runs too perfectly, as if the whole thing had been scripted. The emotions of the band members and those around them seem so genuine, though, that it's hard to have any doubts about the movie's authenticity. It must have been a terrible stressing for the band - especially in a situation like this - to have cameras around them all the time. Throughout the whole movie you feel like you're in the room with one of the biggest rock bands on the planet and the cool thing is, that you really get a look behind the image, behind that Rock 'N' Roll dream. What you find are three guys that are just as unsure about themselves, their friendship and their career as everybody else is. Hetfield, Hammett and Ulrich try to be honest throughout the whole documentary and everybody comes across as a more or less normal person (Ulrich and his ego are more than just a bit annoying, though, and it's sad to see that the band still doesn't seem to have the tiniest bit of respect for their former bandmate Jason Newstedt, who had to put up with a lot of crap for almost 15 years). A whiny appearance by former band member/Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine sticks out as the most moving/funniest moment. It really must suck to feel like he does, regretting everyday that you've been kicked out of one of the biggest bands on earth. Respect for such an honest statement in front of the cameras, though.

"Some Kind Of Monster" entertains for more than 120 minutes (and there's more on the DVD) without ever getting boring. The weird thing about this documentary is, that it's never about the music, but more about the process of a band recording itself. Whoever said that this one is a must see for Metallica fans, documentary fans and anyone in between got it right. It's more than your usual VH1 special. This one REALLY takes a look "behind the music" and a very exciting one at that.