Is random an acceptable way to describe a film? Because Metal Lords is most certainly that.
This review of the Netflix film Metal Lords does not contain spoilers.
The film follows Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith), two best friends united by their outcast status and love of heavy metal. When they learn of their high school’s upcoming Battle of the Bands competition, the two decide to form a group and enter, but before the big night, they must recruit another member and then stay together long enough to actually compete as a band.
Metal Lords is an odd film to review because obviously it’s been created for a teenage audience, meaning you have to try and look at it through teenage eyes. In doing that, I’ve come to have a very split view of the film. On the one hand, there is an awful lot here that I would’ve eaten for breakfast during my high school years, but on the other hand, I’m not sure I’d have been allowed to watch it. When you consider the age range of who these kinds of narratives (think along the lines of Camp Rock, High School Musical, etc) are aimed at, it’s like the writers of Metal Lords have tried to take that format and make it suit a more mature audience, but the reality is the content and tone have ended up awfully mismatched here.
Trying to make that kind of narrative appeal to an older teen audience isn’t the only thing that has resulted in Metal Lords feeling very random in parts. It is definitely a film that seems to be trying too hard to impress its viewers. They threw in a little bit of everything in an attempt to make it a less paint-by-numbers affair and, I think, ended up massively overdoing it. With so many points of conflict, and so many ‘villains’ for want of a better word, it was almost like the film had entered into a game of one-upmanship with itself. Looking back at it now, it’s actually ridiculous how many layers of complications Metal Lords added into the mix.
Credit where credit’s due, Metal Lords did seem to know exactly what it was. These kinds of films are never going to be the kind that reinvents the wheel but can be more than watchable if their quirks are in the right places. As it turns out, that’s a big if. For me, this was a film that was let down by its characters, which were a one-of-each selection of very boring stereotypical teenagers. Was multi-dimensional characterization something that you had to pay extra for, I wonder? They were all so flat and beige because there was so little to them. I feel like if Metal Lords had taken some of the enthusiasm that it had shown in regards to conflict and antagonists, and devoted even just a sprinkle of that enthusiasm to making its three main characters more interesting, it could’ve been a lot better. It simply failed to put the groundwork in where it was really needed, and as such everything else beyond that was limited in terms of the impact it could have.
On the whole, Metal Lords is a real oddball of a film. Thinking about it now, I guess that kind of works in its favor a little, but would definitely be more effective if I was convinced its chaotic, wild card nature and how it was received was truly intentional. At the very least, it is average teen movie fodder, however, it may have over-reached itself in trying to take that niche and make it appeal to the demographic a few years directly above it.
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