Some Kind of Monster (film)

Some Kind of Monster (film)
Some Kind Of Monster
Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Produced by Joe Berlinger
Bruce Sinofsky
Starring Metallica
Distributed by Paramount
Release date(s) January 21, 2004
Running time 141 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Some Kind of Monster is a 2004 documentary film featuring the American heavy metal band Metallica. It shares its name with a song from Metallica's 2003 album St. Anger.

The film shows many studio rehearsals and fragments of concert footage. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The DVD release was handled by Paramount Pictures, whose 2000 film Mission: Impossible II featured "I Disappear" by Metallica.


Origins and production

Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky filmed a 1994 documentary called Paradise Lost on the West Memphis Three, about three teenagers convicted of murder. Metallica allowed their music to be used in the movie, which was the first time Metallica let any film use their music and the band drew attention to the cases.[1] Following success, the directors eventually were interested in a no-holds-barred look at Metallica, which the band later agreed to and became Some Kind of Monster.[2]


Metallica is forced to examine their nature and their very existence as bassist Jason Newsted quits the band and frontman James Hetfield abruptly leaves the group to enter a rehabilitation facility due to alcohol abuse. Metallica's management Q-Prime hires "performance-enhancing coach" Phil Towle to help the group better understand one another as friends, bandmates and human beings. Towle is frequently yet erroneously referred to as a "therapist," since he voluntarily revoked his own license from the Kansas Behavioral Science's Regulatory Board in the early 1990s for "trying to improperly convince clients to continue treatment." A glimpse of this impropriety is captured on film, as the members of Metallica decide that Towle's services are no longer required; Towle attempts to convince them that they still need him, saying "We've still got some trust issues that I think we need to sort out."[3].

Former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine also appears briefly in a scene in which, as part of Lars Ulrich's therapy, he confronts the drummer regarding the decision to fire him early in the band's career for his excessive drinking. The two had not had any personal contact for many years and Mustaine speaks frankly about his resentment stemming from his dismissal without the opportunity to redeem himself with an alcoholism treatment program. Mustaine also speaks of how, despite achieving success with his own group, Megadeth, he still endures ridicule from Metallica fans, which has diminished the enjoyment of his own success.

Of particular note is the perceived "power struggle" between Hetfield and drummer Ulrich - best friends for more than two decades who are finally beginning to understand one another. In one of the film's more memorable scenes, Ulrich confesses that he resents Hetfield's need to control everything, even when Hetfield is not present; a stipulation of Hetfield's rehab release required him to work only four hours per day from noon to 4 p.m. so he could spend time with his family. Hetfield subsequently objected to the rest of the band working on recorded material when he was not present. The scene ends with Ulrich starting to curse under his breath, before finally getting nose-to-nose with his best friend and roaring "Fuck!"

In a scene where Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and several others are discussing titles for the album, Hetfield suggests to use the name of the song "St. Anger." Many of the other people in the scene agree that it is a good title; however Ulrich prefers "Frantic," which would become the first track on the album. Ulrich is eventually convinced that "Frantic," as an album title, would suggest a perceived lack of focus by the band.

The film contains many excerpts from the studio of unreleased tracks Like "Shadow of the cross", "Dead Kennedy rolls", "Riff" and "More than this (Whipping Boy)". The only unreleased song that can be heard fully is "Temptation".

The movie also addresses the early 2001 departure of longtime member Newsted. He is interviewed, and footage of his own group, Echobrain, both in rehearsal and playing live, is shown. In one scene, an apparently impressed Ulrich states that "Echobrain is the future" after he and Hammett watch the band perform live. Footage is shown from public auditions the band held to find a replacement bass player. In a scene after Robert Trujillo's audition, guitarist Hammett notes that he uses his fingers to play, rather than a pick and mentions that it "hasn't been that way since Cliff Burton", Metallica's bassist before Jason Newsted. The band members later concur that Trujillo was the only bassist of those auditioning who didn't appear to be struggling with Metallica's material.

Public reception

The film was well-received by critics and currently holds an 88% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus that the film is a "Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Metallica survives one of their more turbulent periods."[4]

Band reactions

The producers requested Dave Mustaine's approval to include footage of his 2001 meeting with Ulrich. Although Mustaine denied the request, he had earlier signed a release form giving the band and the producers the right to use the footage. Mustaine later claimed that this marked "the final betrayal" and that he has now given up hope of ever fully reconciling with his former bandmates.[5] Although he received a measure of satisfaction at being included and acknowledged in the film as Metallica's original guitarist, Mustaine felt his interview footage was edited to portray him in a "less than flattering" manner.[6] Responding to Mustaine's criticism, Ulrich said, "So put these three facts down, he was in our band for a year. He never played on a Metallica record [official release], and it was 22 years ago. It's pretty absurd that it still can be that big a deal."[7] In 2010 Metallica played several shows with the other three "big four of thrash metal", one of which included a cover of Diamond Head's Am I Evil? during which all of the bands came on stage to perform. Dave Mustaine was seen hugging Hetfield, Ulrich, and Hammett, suggesting that the feud has been put to rest.

Cameo appearances

All appear while auditioning for Metallica's vacant bassist position. Robert Trujillo was eventually selected.


External links

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