Starring: Jaeden Martell, Adrian Greensmith, Iris Hainsworth, and joe Manganiello.
Directed By: peter Sollett
Where I Watched it: Netflix
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Deluxe
Description Narrated By: Laura Post
The Plot: Kevin (Martell) and Hunter (Greensmith) are friends that share both being outcasts in their school and also lovers of metal music. When Hunter learns of an upcoming Battle Of The Bands, he enlists Kevin to be his band mate, even though Kevin feels insecure about his ability as a drummer. Then, they find it hard to navigate without a bassist, until they hear a girl rocking on a cello (Hainsworth) and it looks like they might be all set. But sometimes, being friends is hard, girls get in the mix, and Hunter is just incredibly unlikable as a person. That last thing isn’t a plot point, but it should be.
What Works: It isn’t terrible. Some of the stuff with Kevin works better as he starts discovering who he is apart from Hunter. He starts gaining a lot of self confidence playing for another band, and also having a girlfriend, and that entire story arc takes off, until it crash lands back into Hunter.
For what it’s worth, Jaeden and Iris are both decent actors, but this film seems like a rather unintentional collection of scenes made by someone who listened to metal back in the 90’s, and wants to give this generation their own Detroit Rock City. I didn’t like that film either.
What Doesn’t Work: The kids in this film have rather unexplained and unearned conflicts with just about everyone. Even kevin, who is the lighter and nicer of the two still has this odd dynamic with his mother that is never really explained. And Hunter’s relationship with his dad is the stuff Afterschool specials were made of. You could chalk it up to bad parenting on one end, and teen angst on the other, except Metal lords isn’t interested in giving you any backstory as to how long this has been going on, and at what point Hunter made the transition into the metal obsessed nut job that he appears to be for the majority of the film.
He’s a hard protagonist to root for, because he seems to be the catalyst for a lot of the things that cause him strife. He is his own worst enemy, whereas Kevin is just that kid who gets overlooked, and when he distances himself from Hunter, he starts having all these different experiences. And it’s not like someone was trying to steal him away, or that there’s some villain in this story. Kevin’s experiences without Hunter are just decidedly better than his time embracing his love of Metal with his best friend who has a serious rage problem.
Hunter’s uncontrolled rage reaches such a fever pitch that when his father sends him away to a mental health overnight type place, you get the sense that the film wants you to sympathize with Hunter because his life is unfair, his dad is an ass, and he’s just here because he listens to devil music. So much so, that in that scene, the doctor lists off a series of problems to see what Hunter has, and he claims to not have any. But what we’ve seen up until this point suggest that at bare minimum, Hunter could benefit from at least talking to a therapist instead of brushing this whole thing off as just another time when the world is unfair to him and his dad just doesn’t understand.
Teen movies are my jam. Even now that I’m no longer a teeen, I can still kick back and enjoy something like Scream or He’s all That. But Metal Lords just wants you to do all the work it should have done in character development, and I’m not going to invest in a character I don’t care for.
The Blind Perspective: This film succeeds in its audio description. It’s one of the few things the film does succeed in. There’s a scene where Hunter uses the word Gay in a derogatory way, but the director uses the camera angles to show us a bunch of posters and imagery to point out the absurdity of Hunter’s comment.
Another obvious success is just in describing Hunter’s outfits. He is very Metal, and has the clothes to back it up, at least in one important sequence. There are other moments, that without audio description, the film would definitely feel disjointed and confusing, and I never was.
Final Thoughts: Unless you just absolutely love metal music, I would avoid this film. Honestly, it could have been good, as the Metal Lords gains more traction when Kevin and Hunter start to explore who they are apart from each other. If the film had leaned into that, allowing them to have that personal growth and maturity, instead of feeling obligated to return them to each other because… the film required it? It might have actually worked. Instead, it fails to give Hunter the kind of growth as a character needed for us to ever root for him to succeed in the Battle Of the Bands.
The great Dewey Finn may have entered the School Of Rock with selfish intentions, and as a borderline character, but he left having grown considerably, and it’s that personal growth that sold audiences on School Of Rock. If only Hunter could have taken a page from that book.
Final Grade: C-