With the series gaining a cult status from its core fanbase, one would’ve expected this series to be a hit; except the show is actually more hit-and-miss with more misses than hits. When done right, sci-fi anthology shows can be great fun and legendary in their own right, with the classic example being The Twilight Zone, with each story perfectly told within the half-hour and wrapping up with a unique twist.
Despite the intention of being hammy and OTT like its source material, the writing is generally ropey and there was rarely any investment in each story’s outcome. Even if you’re a casual viewer, most of the twists in this series will be easy to predict from a mile away before the ultimate reveal at the end. Plus, even clocking in at around 22 minutes for each instalment, there’s an awful lot of ‘Basil Exposition’ style padding that can become extraneous after a while.
The CGI effects look like something out of a computer game with the actors looking completely out of place with the obviously green-screened backgrounds, and frankly there are certain video games out there that look better than this does. Some of the fight choreography doesn’t work well either; it feels staged, unconvincing like as if the actors aren’t even trying, and the over-extended use of slow-mo shots only prolonged the agony and made the flaws more obvious to witness.
Despite being rarely on screen together, the drama is quite good and there is something quite hilarious about seeing actors like Rutger Hauer, Michael Jai White and Joe Flanigan giving camp and overripe performances whilst spouting out parodically bad dialogue. Also, there were some good episodes scattered through this series, like Episode Two, Shelter Me, where Michelle Ryan wakes up in a strange room with James Marsters as her creepy neighbour, and it was in this episode where the drama, performances and central twist worked effectively. Also, Episode Five (Master of Destiny, which was the episode that was heavily marketed on the promos and DVD/Blu-ray covers) was pure entertainment, even though, despite being unadulterated eye-candy in a tight-leather catsuit, it’s quite impossible to fully believe Kelly Brook as a professional thief for hire. Really?
In a way, Metal Hurlant Chronicles is a 50/50 show, treading firmly on the line between “it’s so bad it’s good” and “so bad it’s actually bad”. It does have some episodes that are fun to watch and makes the whole experience worthwhile, and if you’re a die-hard fan of episodic science fiction, then this will probably be for you, but occasionally it’s so ludicrously bad in its execution, it makes 300: Rise of an Empire look like the work of a true genius.
METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GUILLAUME LUBRANO / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: SCOTT ADKINS, KARL E. LANDLER, DOMINIQUE PINON, KELLY BROOK, RUTGER HAUER, JAMES MARSTERS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 20TH