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Bonus Points: DVD Reviews

'Metallica': Some Kind of DVD

Also reviewed: 'Sky Captain'

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 25, 2005;

"Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" (Rated R; List price: $29.99)
Release date: Jan. 25

If "This Is Spinal Tap" and an episode of "Dr. Phil" had a baby, it would undoubtedly look like "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." The critically acclaimed documentary follows the members of the legendary heavy metal band as they struggle to record their "St. Anger" CD and go at each other's throats during therapy sessions. That's right, the guys who pounded out "Don't Tread on Me" spend a lot of this movie talking about their feelings, which, believe it or not, makes for compelling viewing.

James Hetfield gets personal in "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." (Joe Berlinger - IFC Films)

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Metallica fans should consider this two-disc DVD a must-own. Most of the bountiful extras -- including deleted or extended scenes, footage from film festivals and premieres and two commentary tracks -- are as worthwhile as the film itself. The 41 (41!) deleted scenes are particularly strong, so much so that veteran filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky must have agonized over cutting some of them from "Monster." Thankfully, this DVD means they can finally be seen. Even those who washed their hands of the band during drummer Lars Ulrich's assault on Napster may dub Metallica forgiven after watching this absorbing, often amusing look at the lives of these aging and talented hard rockers.

Skippable Bonus Point: The band's commentary track disappoints, thanks to numerous extended moments of silence. Perhaps the guys were talked out after all those afternoons spent in counseling.

Best Bonus Point: If you watch no other special features, make sure to spend time with those deleted scenes. Among the great moments captured on film but not included in the final cut: Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett struggling to log in to a chat on Metallica's Web site; Ulrich sulking during Hammett's Hawaiian-themed surprise birthday party ("It's not even his birthday," the drummer complains); and Hammett's trip to traffic school after getting a speeding ticket. Yes, even head-bangers have to obey the law.

"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (Rated PG; List price: $29.99)
Release date: Jan. 25

While "Sky Captain" didn't turn out to be the blockbuster some anticipated, it's still entertaining enough to merit a look on DVD. Actually, DVD may be a better medium for this movie than the big screen because it allows viewers to explore the most interesting aspect of this 1930s-style adventure: how it was made.

Touted as the first film generated almost entirely by computer, "Sky Captain" was filmed with live actors (including Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow), a few real props and lots and lots of blue screens. The whole "World of Tomorrow" was created by hundreds of animators and effects artists, as the two-part "Brave New World" documentary explains. That doc's not the only extra on this DVD. Others include a featurette about the movie's art designs, the original six-minute short that inspired the film, a gag reel and two commentary tracks: one by producer Jon Avnet and another by first-time director Kerry Conran and several members of his crew. Some of those features (like that six-minute short) merit watching, while several others (including the not particularly funny gag reel) can be ignored. Students of film, and especially the creation of special effects, will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at how an empty sound stage was transformed into a New York city street flooded with giant robots. But it's probably not worth buying. Rent it, watch the film and features once, then send "Sky Captain" back to the shelf. Think of it as your contribution to the DVD renters in the world of tomorrow.

Best Bonus Point: The six-minute short, some of which was replicated in the film, does a beautiful job of capturing the look and feel of 1930s serials, from its occasionally grainy visuals to the huge letters that promise "7 heart-pounding, thrilling chapters!" It's easy to see why a studio greenlit the concept. Too bad the movie doesn't fully live up to this brilliant teaser's exclamation points.

Most Revealing Bonus Point: The "Brave New World" documentary shows just how naked Law, Paltrow and Angelina Jolie must have felt during filming, as they often had nothing to act against except each other and the sea of blue-screen that surrounded them. Is it any wonder Gwyneth doesn't look overly frightened when she almost gets squashed by one of those robots?

Coming in next week's "Bonus Points": A review of "Ray."

If you have feedback about "Bonus Points" or want to suggest a DVD for review, e-mail Jen Chaney.

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