Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Metal Hurlant Chronicles: The Complete Series

Shout Factory // Unrated // April 14, 2015
List Price: $34.93 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted March 24, 2015 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

Based on the influential French comic book Metal Hurlant (known in the United States as Heavy Metal), Metal Hurlant Chronicles was an English language French-Belgian series that ran for 12 episodes over the course of two seasons. An anthology show loosely tied together by the travels of the sole surviving fragment of a living planet that's hurtling through space screaming, the show is hit-and-miss... with more misses than hits.

I like SF anthology TV shows. Most of them run half an hour (as does Metal Hurlant Chronicles) and that's just the right amount of time to tell an interesting tale. Given the time limits and the fact that the characters won't be back next week, these are all plot driven, by necessity. One of the best examples of the genre done right is also one of the earliest: The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling and his writers knew how to draw the viewers in quickly, tell a story effectively and wrap it up in the time allotted, usually with a unique twist.

In this series the writing is generally sloppy. I was rarely investing in the outcome of the story, most of the twists at the end are easy to predict well before the reveal, and even with only a scant 22 minutes to tell the tale there's a lot of padding. Take for example the first episode, King's Crown. In a technologically advanced world where people still live in a feudal society similar to the middle ages, the evil, decadent king is dying. To choose his successor, the bravest warriors from across the kingdom are brought to a floating city, where they fight to the death. The last man standing becomes the new king.

A simple enough story, but the vast majority of the episode is taken up with the one-on-one fights. After the first one it gets rather dull (and there are four all together), and the choreography doesn't work well. I never really believed that the contestants were trying to actually hurt each other. Did you ever play swords when you were a kid? You always tried to hit your opponent's sword to make them clang, you never tried to actually hit your friend. That's what these fights looked like. What's worse is that they threw in a lot of slow motion shots too, which only prolonged the agony.

When there is only one man standing there's only a couple of minutes left for the surprise ending, and at that point I didn't care what happened to him or the kingdom since all I'd seen are a series of mindless battles.

While most of the episodes feel padded (they added a pointless sex scene between two people who are otherwise not seen in Three on a Match... why??) the opposite thing happens in the story Master of Destiny. It had the potential to be a great episode (the original story was written by director Alejandro Jodorowsky and it stars Joe Flanigan from Stargate Atlantis) but they had to condense the narrative to such an extent that it hurt the episode.

A mercenary, Hondo, is given the location of the hidden planet of a lost race by his dying partner. (The partner apparently cut his hand somehow in their ship, and therefore died. I know, it didn't make any sense to me either.) The "turtle-sapiens" who live there can predict the future and tell a man how long he is going to live, and when he's going to die. It's a long tough journey, but tough Hondo is up for it though and climbs in his ship. After getting into a brief space battle the 'turtle-sapiens' narrates the rest of his journey, mentioning that he fights a ferocious space beast and barely survives, loses his ship, etc. etc. The viewers are spared seeing any of that exciting stuff.

He wakes up on the far off planet, having made it there, and the lead turtle person tell him that he has six years to live. Just then, another ship lands and a beautiful woman emerges. The two fall in love and the turtle-guy says that she'll live six years too, and that both of them will die on the same day and the same minute. Then, after they leave, he tells the other turtle creatures what happens to the pair in the six years they have left and how they die. I think the circumstances of their deaths were supposed to be the twist, but I never assumed they'd have any other fate than the way they died. The old writing adage is you're supposed to 'show' not 'tell' what happens, and this episode is a good example of why writers should stick to that. (This was still a decent episode, but it could have been much better.)

There were some good episodes scattered through the series though, most of them in the second season. One first season show that stood out was the second one, Shelter Me. An attractive young lady wakes up in a strange room with her creepy neighbor. He explains to her that atomic bombs have been dropped and that he knocked her out and dragged her into his bomb shelter just in the nick of time. Everyone else is dead. But is he telling the truth?

My favorite installment was the second season opener, Whiskey in the Jar. In the old west a small town's doctor isn't very skilled. He basically kills more people than he heals (the main malady in the town is a gunshot wound) and his main medicine is whiskey. He gives the patient a shot as anesthesia, disinfects the wound with it, and then takes a good slug himself before starting to operate. That all changes one night when a comet (the Metal Hurlant) flies by and sets his hands on fire. After that, he has healing hands. He can save any life that's brought to him and is now a very skilled surgeon. Unfortunately that brings problems to the town, big problems.

Another episode that has to be mentioned is the final one, Back to Reality. In this tale a doctor is able to send his clients on virtual reality trips that seem incredibly real. So real if fact that maybe they are real. The thing that makes this story so interesting is that, though it stands on its own, they include actors from other episodes and the doctor sends them into virtual reality dreams that are the previous episodes. It gives the episode a Phillip K. Dick quality and makes the viewers question just what is real. It was great way to end the show.

The Blu-ray Discs:

The series arrives on three Blu-ray discs, two for the show and one reserved for extras. This trio is housed in a single-width triple case.


The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, like the show itself, has its pluses and minuses. One the good side, the sound is enveloping and really impressive in parts. The battle sequences are particularly noteworthy, surrounding the viewer with the sounds of combat. Unfortunately the mix isn't great in the first season. There are a couple of places in more than one episodes where soft-spoken dialog is almost impossible to hear due to the overly loud audio effects and music. This is the exception rather than the rule, but I was surprised that I had to turn on the subtitles to make out some of the words.


The 1.78 1080p image looks good, a nice solid presentation. The colors are good and the level of detail is excellent. Nothing to complain about here.


The set comes with a lot of extras. There are 'making-of' featurette to seven of the 12 episodes, which last between 7 and 23 minutes each. These are fly-on-the-wall looks at the filming of the various episodes, where a camera was set up and viewers are get to see the crew going about their business. The director of all the episodes, Guillaume Lubrano, does pop up occasionally to relate some anecdote about the filming of the show (in French, with English subtitles) but people who are interesting in the nuts-and-bolts of filming an episode will enjoy these the most.

There are also interviews with three actors who appear in the first episode, Scott Adkins, Darren Shahlavi, and Matt Mullins. These run between four and ten minutes and are fairly interesting. It was fun to note that none of the three actors had seen the original comic before getting the gig, and one even went so far as to say that he was surprised that "it took this long to do a production of the magazine." I guess no one told him about the two movies, Heavy Metal and Heavy Metal 2000. The one big problem with the interviews is that no one bothered to mic the person doing the interview off-camera. It's not possible to hear some of the questions, but that's more of an annoyance than anything else since the answers usually restate the question.

Wrapping up there are motion comics for all of the episodes. This was a nice bonus and interesting to watch. They run about 5 minutes each.

Final Thoughts:

While there are more episodes that are either so-so or bad than good or great, this show does have some worthwhile installments and is worth seeking out, but only if you're a pretty big fan of episodic science fiction. This release gets a slight recommendation.
Buy from







E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links