Best of the Decade #16: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)


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.

Around the Web:

  • what?! this and Anvil – that is valuable real estate you guys are taking up in the list!

  • Goon

    just FYI this was also Film Junk’s #1 of 2004

  • dt

    Better than Anvil!?

  • Napalm

    wow. 2 documentaries so far, both about washed up metal bands. this list continues to surprise me…

  • As I mentioned on the podcast, two of the people involved in compiling this list are metal fans. However, it’s interesting to note that one of these people (Greg), did not nominate Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and actually kind of despises it.

    Both movies go beyond music though… just like The Wrestler isn’t really about wrestling.

  • I tend to agree. I think both of these films in a top 20 of the decade is strange and I would probably take Metallica: Some Kind of Monster over Anvil. I guess that’s the problem with consensus lists.

  • Greg

    It is what it is, I guess. All of us had Anvil in their 30 to 50 best of lists, but only 3 had Some Kind of Monster, yet it finished ahead of the Anvil movie in the final top 20.

    There are pros and cons of the consensus list, this just happens to be the first noticable con.

    By the way, dt…it is not better than Anvil in my opinion. Anvil has a better story, better subject and no whiny little fuck drummers. As far as Some Kind of Monster being Filmjunk’s number one movie of 2004? Well, to be fair, I should point out that 2005 was when the Filmjunk crew decided to quit smoking crack.

    You should also remember that this is the same group of my friends that think Star Trek IV is a work of genius, but to each their own.

  • Goon

    as much as I love Anvil, I’d def. take this one over it. The filmmaking is just that much better here.

    It doesn’t matter to me that they were both metal docs, that doesn’t figure in to me, the egos involved are what makes it.

    When we made our prelim lists, I didn’t list DiG! because I actually for some reason thought it was a late 90s movie, perhaps because of its subject matter or style. Also definitely worth checking out. Ditto The Devil and Daniel Johnston… I know Jay likes the Danielson doc…

    trying to think of other band docs of the decade that deserve honorable mentions.

  • Goon

    “2005 was when the Filmjunk crew decided to quit smoking crack.”

    Yeah about that… can I borrow a few bucks? I owe some people some money…

    …for crack.

  • AlexG

    metallica washed up? gotta be kidding me man, their last album proves they’re still riding high

  • face

    Ok. Wow. No.

    I thought maybe with Anvil you guys were trying to be different and “edgy” but come on. this movie isn’t that good. certainly not top 20 of the decade.

  • To Greg’s “whiny little fuck drummers” I think he might be bring other Metallic baggage in to this film. The most interesting part of Some Kind of Monster is Lars restraint toward James and all his rules, etc. (Remember it is James that goes off in a huff, slamming doors) The film is like a doc. on group dynamics and you could trade out the heavy metal band for a software design team, sales team, or any other successful creative team.

  • If you guys have problems with this selection, you’re going to love tomorrow’s pick. :)

  • Jim the movie freak

    Hmmmm, again… very good film, but not a great one. Thought it could use a trim, a bit long, and the whiny-ness of the band drove me nuts. Lars is such an unlikable character. I’d give it a 3/4 overall, but it’s not something I’d rewatch a lot, despite enjoying it as a documentary

  • Mason

    “Zoo” tomorrow?

  • Henrik

    I once saw this movie 5 days in a row. I have probably seen it close to 10 times all in all. This is an amazing movie.

  • Henrik

    Oh, and I didn’t give a shit about Metallica before I saw the film, and since I have become a major fan.

  • I’m calling it, tomorrow will be King of Kong

  • Mason

    Is that Simon Pegg in that photo?