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Metal Hurlant Chronicles: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Review)

Metal-Hurlant-ChroniclesThis spring, let your imagination run free. Sci-fi fantasy and comic book fans will have the chance to embark on a unique journey beyond space, time and known worlds that await us.  Visionary writer-director Guillaume Lubrano brings his faithful, well-crafted adaption of the world renowned comics anthology Métal Hurlant (also known internationally as ‘Heavy Metal’ Magazine) to live-action with a star-studded cast including Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Scott Adkins (Expendables 2) Michael Biehn (Aliens), Kelly Brook (Piranha 3D), David Belle (Prince of Persia), John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis), James Marsters (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Dominique Pinon (Alien: Resurrection), Michelle Ryan (Doctor Who) and Michael Jai White (Spawn).

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Series 

The last fragment of a living planet, reduced to dust by the destructive madness of its habitants, is condemned to roam the universe for eternity, bringing suffering and deception to those who cross her path. That damned messenger is called: The Metal Hurlant.  From 1960s cold war drama to distant future, fantasy to medieval, the live action sci-fi series METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES spans a wide range of self-contained stories linked together by an asteroid, called the METAL HURLANT, which passes close to the planet where each story is taking place, thereby changing the outcome.

I came into this one very blind.  Never had I even heard of the comic that this series was based upon.  Plus, I don’t really keep up with French television (Even if this is my second French TV set Blu-ray review this year, haha).  This is based in English speaking with plenty of American, British and Australian talent to beef up the cast.  And then, I also really liked the artwork displayed on the Blu-ray cover, so I was down to check it out.  Remember, I’m a kid of the 80s and 90s.  We rented stuff based upon how cool the cover artwork was a lot of the time.

What we have here is a hodge-podge of things.  This is basically like a super fantasy science fiction take on the Twilight Zone.  While this all takes place in the same galaxy/universe, none of the characters carry over (Some actors will do multiple episodes playing different parts, though), and each episodes is a standalone story that is finished by the end of the (roughly) half hour episode.  In spirit, this also kept triggering my brain to remember the Heavy Metal cartoon/comic of the 80s/90s sort of come to life.  And then aesthetically is looks like something done by Zack Snyder, particularly looking and playing like 300.  If you’re still with me here, and are into any of those three things, I think you should give this a shot if you’re the least bit curious.

This isn’t a perfect show.  With an anthology one like this, with this kind of ambition, you’re not going to always hit the mark.  Some episodes flat out stink.  There are some that are well done.  Others will remind you of things you have liked in the past and seen done before, and my give you a soft spot toward it.  What is fun is seeing some actors get to play in this sandbox.  James Marsters is someone I’ve always been a fan of, but he doesn’t get a whole lot of work.  So, I was delighted to see him pop up in 2 episodes.  Cult action faves Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White also make a couple appearance.  Classic 80s actors such as Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer and John Rhys-Davies show up as well to class the thing up.  And man, Kelly Brook does look pretty easy on the eyes in this.

If a complete series set is at our feet right now, I’m guessing the series is donezo, but it could have easily went on for longer.  It honestly looked and felt kind of like a web series and I’m surprised to see it wasn’t.  As it is though, it does make for a nice 12-episode sci fi anthology that feels rich with lore and mythology.

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Episodes

Season 1 (Disc 1)

“King’s Crown”

“Shelter Me”

“Red Light/Cold Hard Facts”

“Three On A Match”

“Master Of Destiny”

“Pledge Of Anya”

Season 2 (Disc 2)

“Whiskey In The Jar”

“The Endomorphe”

“Loyal Khondor”

“Second Chance”

“Second Son”

“Back To Reality”Metal Hurlant 3

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  The picture for this was shot on Red cameras and looks every bit as sharp and high res as you would expect.  This picture is rife with detail at every pixel.  The only downside to it is some post-work on the source video that certain episodes to look rougher or to try to reach at a different aesthetic.

Depth:  Incredibly well-rounded.  Especially during some slo-mo shot shots that do some 3-dimensional rotation.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich an inky.  Not detail is hidden and cloth and hair patterns can be easily discerned from shot to shot.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rich, with golds being a sort of standout a few times for me.  Then again, in certain episodes the coloring and focus will differ depending on the filmmakers’ intentions.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistent within the context of the look of each episode.  No matter warmer, neutral or cold, detail is razor sharp, displaying every pore, wrinkle, crack or piece of dried blood.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Please note that I had some troubles with the Episode audio early on.  I spoke with some that were also reviewing the disc and they didn’t experience the same difficulties.  I did find when I watched under PLAY ALL the issue was no longer present.

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA,

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This is a loud and booming track.  Its very bass’y and the action sequences and such sort of reminded me of a fully loaded mall or min-golf arcade from back in the 90s.  Needless to say that’s a good thing.  The action features effects that are well rounded and crisp.  Its not incredibly loose sounding as I would have liked, but this track more than does the trick.

Low Frequency Extension:  As I said, the sub gets put to work.  Music cues, swords colliding, explosions and meteors gliding past are just some of the things that will shake your living room when viewing.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There are some crowd noises, beeps and things that cover the environments, but the rear speakers mainly provide ambiance working better in some areas than others.  The front speakers blast off with action left to right and back again.  Volume variance is also quite well.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clean.  Sometimes it gets a little lost in the score, but its minimal.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover insert features a disc guide that lists all the episodes and features on each.

Disc 1 – Season One

Featurettes – These basically take a look behind the scenes at the “making of” of the particular episode.  They feature interviews with the cast, writers and directors.  Features on-set footage that opens the doors to how they did special effects, rehearsals, alternate takes and cast and crew interactions.

  • King’s Crown (HD, 23:45) 
  • Shelter Me (HD, 9:20) 

Interviews – Extended interviews with the cast about the show

  • Scott Adkins (HD, 9:53) 
  • Darren Shahlavi (HD, 4:05) 
  • Matt Mullins (HD, 7:13) 

Disc 2 – Season Two

Featurettes

  • Whiskey In The Jar (HD, 7:32) 
  • The Endomorphe (HD, 16:01)
  • Loyal Khondor (HD, 15:40) 
  • Second Chance (HD, 10:27)
  • Back To Reality (HD, 7:20)

Disc 3

Alternate French Language Episodes – Presented with English subtitles

  • Red Light/Cold Hard Facts
  • The Last Khondor
  • The Second Son
  • Back To Reality

San Diego International Comic Con Panel (HD, 25:49) – Features Michael Jai White, James Marsters and others doing a panel for the show at San Diego Comic Con in 2012.

Motion Comics

  • King’s Crown (HD, 4:36)
  • Shelter Me (HD, 4:36)
  • Red Light (HD, 4:36)
  • Cold Hard Facts (HD, 4:36)
  • Three On A March (HD, 4:36)
  • Master Of Destiny (HD, 4:37)
  • Pledge Of Anya (HD, 4:37)
  • Whiskey In The Jar (HD, 4:35)
  • The Endomorphe (HD, 4:36)
  • Loyal Khondor (HD, 4:36)
  • Second Chance (HD, 4:36)
  • Second Son (HD, 4:36)
  • Back To Reality (HD, 4:36)

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Summary 

Metal Hurlant Chronicles was something I was wildly unaware of until now.  While I dig the premise of it quite a bit, I don’t really think it lives up to its potential.  Still, it manages to be an entertaining experiment and because its so different episode to episode, you’re bound to enjoy some and sleep through others.  This release has some great audio and video quality with which to present itself and an onslaught of extras that should keep fans and newcomers to the series pretty amused.  If you love Zack Snyder stuff, Heavy Metal or fantastical sci fi takes on the Twilight Zone concept, I think its safe to go blind to this one.

Metal-Hurlant-Chronicles-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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