12th Oct2015

‘Metal Hurlant Resurgence’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Michelle Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Karl E. Landler, Dominique Pinon, James Marsters, Jimmy Jean-Louis | Directed by Guillaume Lubrano | Series created by Guillaume Lubrano

MH-resurgance-dvd

Heavy Metal, aka Metal Hurlant, has long been considered one of the definitive anthology comics of all time – telling some of the most fascinating sci-fi and fantasy stories ever comitted to print and inspiring writers and artists alike. Created by Jean Giraud (better known under his legendary moniker, Mœbius) and Philippe Druillet, Metal Hurlant was one of the first examples of the “mature” comic as we known it today. Debuting in 1974 and spanning 146 issues, the anthology book inspired both the animated Heavy Metal in 1981 and its sequel in 2000 – a sequel which was a star vehicle for iconic scream queen and Penthouse Pet Julie Strain (who would reprise her role in the video game Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.2). However it was not until 2011 that the comic would  find itself and its anthological roots resurrected completely in the form of a television series, the Metal Hurlant Chronicles.

A Franco-Belgian co-production, Metal Hurlant Chronicles is a classic anthology series, with stand-alone episodes taking place on different planets, each with a different cast, linked together only by the idea that an asteroid – the “Métal Hurlant” of the title – passes the planet in question during the events of the story.

Debuting on French television in October 2012, the series has struggles to find a footing in the West, especially here in the UK. However, following the release of the first season back in July, the second series of this sci-fi fantasy makes it UK DVD and Blu-ray debut under the title of Metal Hurlant Resurgence, telling six more tale set in the Metal Hurlant universe – some more inter-connected, and more interesting, than others but all based on the original tales found within the pages of the comic…

A wildly varied selection of tales, Metal Hurlant Resurgence contains stories featuring intergalactic warriors, a modern day Adam and Eve, an immortal Wild West Sheriff and more. Interestingly, this second collection of Metal Hurlant “chronicles” seemingly ties ALL of the separate stories in this series together into one self-contained universe thanks to the final segment, Back to Reality – which posits that everything we’ve seen up to that point is nothing more than virtual reality and the dreams of prisoners on death row!

Of the six episodes in this second season collection it’s the first that really stands out, even now – some 24 hours after watching the show I can remember each and every part of Whiskey in the Jar (the episodes title). It doesn’t hurt that the entire episode is deftly narrated in commanding fashion by Michael Biehn, who also appears in the all-too-brief episode as the Sheriff of a Wild West town… And yes, before you ask, not ALL the stories in Metal Hurlant Resurgence are set on far off planets in the distant future – some combine technology and history in a fashion not dissimilar to the likes of Westworld and Futureworld. Speaking of which there’s a tremendous amount of familiarity in the stories on show here.

Whilst the the original Heavy Metal comic was a pioneer, the show seems derivative – but through no fault of its own. It’s not the fault of the shows producer/creator and director of most of the second season, Guillaume Lubrano. For such is the influence of the original Metal Hurlant comic that it’s pages have been plundered for ideas, themes, characters and stories for decades. Most of the time without credit. Which is why is is so refreshing to see a series such as this exist… Thankfully Metal Hurlant Chronicles pays its due respect to the book and its creators, writers and artists – all of whom DESERVE to have their name credited to the world’s they created, the ideas the brought forward. This show does that and it does it to great effect.

If you’re a fan of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant, good sci-fi, or even just anthology stories, you owe it to yourself to watch the Metal Hurlant Chronicles. The second volume of stories, Metal Hurlant Resurgence is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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