The 2000s rehashed a lot of iconic 1980s entertainment, examining the lives of washed up pro wrestlers in film and countless biographies, building blockbuster franchises out of cartoons that existed only to sell toys, and weaving its kitschy style into ironic hipster clothing and music. Emo band members look increasingly like Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille, synths came back in a big way, and of course the late ’00s resurgence of thrash.
In 2004 though, thrash kingpins Metallica were out of touch with their fans on both a musical and personal level, to the extent of suing them during the advent of the Napster era. They were lucky to have survived the ’90s alternative boom at all, and didn’t appreciate it. They were divas, and even treating each other like shit to the point that longtime bassist Jason Newsted couldn’t take it anymore, and bailed. In order to save the band, Metallica take on a “performance coach”, and what results is alternately hilarious, awkward, and embarrassing. It’s amazing Metallica allowed this to be released, as it was for many the final nail in the coffin regarding their fandom.
But for others it was also the moment of forgiveness for a long span of extremely bad PR. What makes Metallica: Some Kind of Monster so different from Anvil! The Story of Anvil – the other metal documentary on our list – is that this is not an underdog story, and it’s not a Rocky III return to championship form either (the album being made during this doc is easily their worst). These people are not lovable; they are simply fascinating, very different personalities. Paradise Lost directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky loom over their subjects as if they are witnessing a marriage on the brink of divorce, a family unsure why they stay together, questioning their commitment to each other, themselves, and their craft.
It is a testament to the filmmakers that when the film finally shifts to the making of the album, it remains gripping, and you actually hope these assholes will right the ship and have learned their lesson. Judging by where Metallica are now as the decade closes, it would seem their controversial decision to get on the couch was well worth the risk.
Check out previous entries from our Top 20 Films of the ’00s.