Metal: A Headbanger's Journey Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

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  • Summary: Sam Dunn is a 30-year old anthropologist. He's also a lifelong metal fan. After years of studying diverse cultures, Sam turns his academic eye a little closer to home and embarks on an epic journey into the heart of heavy metal. His mission: to try and figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground - spreading the word, keeping the faith and adopting the style and attitudes that go way beyond the music. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Eisner
    Superbly crafted documentary is strong enough to make believers out of non-metalheads, and inside enough to get the devil's-horns salute from the most diehard followers.
  2. 89
    There's so much information and so many finely honed arguments in this ultimately joyous film that it's liable to send audiences scurrying home to their computers to download the bands they've just heard.
  3. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    It'll make you want to dig out your Whitesnake T-shirt. It might even convince Tipper Gore that heavy metal thunder is all in good fun.
  4. 70
    Metal culture is a giant topic, and Dunn has made an ambitious stab at it, exploring the music's social, religious, and sexual implications.
  5. 70
    Dunn says he's been defending his choice in music since he was 12, and the film is a carefully organized and thoughtful argument for the merits of metal.
  6. Reviewed by: Erin Meister
    As charming as Dunn's kid-in-a-candy-store exploration is at times, it's apparent that his ''anthropological" take on the scene isn't much more than the love letter he always dreamed of writing to his headbanging pals.
  7. Mr. Dunn and his colleagues dig up some interesting information during their inquiry, like the origins of the devil-horns hand signal, metal's signature salute, but their insider love of the music finally proves as big an obstacle to the film as their ploddingly pedagogic approach.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. AmandaC.
    Jan 5, 2009
    This documentary really makes you realize a whole aspect of metal that people don't allow themselves open enough to see. I think Dunn did a splendid job of basically proving that metal is what makes any individual stand out. You can percieve it to be an act of the devil, or you can understand and accept. You can criticize this movie any way you prefer, but this came from a true metal fans heart, and thats a right in your face 10 rating for me. Expand
  2. MartinF.
    Apr 29, 2006
    This movie makes you feel what is the heavy metal real power.
  3. BastianB.
    Sep 22, 2006
    I liked the film very much. It was fun, and it really showed the makers love for metal-music. Of course this shouldn't be mistaken for serious social sience but I was actually glad the film wasn't too serious. For me and probably for many others, the music was all about 'fanboy hero worship'. This film really pointed out quite well were the excitement about heavy metal comes from. Expand
  4. Kevin
    Oct 20, 2007
    It's better than VH1's Heavy: The Story of Metal IMO. Truly a great documentary.
  5. MichaelM.
    Nov 17, 2008
    Great photography, and it moves right along, offering ample evidence that this filmmaker is up to date on his research. But my biggest complaint is that Christian metal was left out entirely. As a teen, I had to defend my love for God-Rock from two factions of critics: my church family, and the metalheads & record store groupies. I'm glad he has updated the Heavy Metal documentary genre, but this DVD made me long for so much more. Expand
  6. Michael
    Jun 4, 2006
    Fun, but dull -- it suggests alot of interesting questions that it categorically ignores. Issues of musical structure (beyond the use of blues scales), the effect of band transitions from underground to mass-market, etc., are ignored for fanboy hero worship and pandering to self-satirical academics. If you want to be taken seriously, then choose a real thesis, and follow it through. Expand
  7. EricC.
    Mar 1, 2009
    While watching, I was very entertained. It's a well shot and edited documentary, a very hard thing to do. But the film ignores the more influential and modern branches of metal in favor of the most popular (and, let's be honest, shallow) bands that Dunn worshiped as a teen. And I was disappointed to realize that I had just sat through an hour and a half long documentary to have preached to me the simple and obvious message that metal is just a way for outsiders to feel accepted, which is kind of offensive to those of us that believe there are metal and hardcore bands out there who are genuine artists. Oh yeah, and he doesn't touch upon metals recent acceptance by the indie crowd. Over all, the movie left me feeling empty and did not leave me with any substantial new knowledge (I'm supposed to care that that hobbit guy invented the devil horns?). Expand

See all 8 User Reviews