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4.6 out of 5 stars
61
4.6 out of 5 stars
Anvil! The Story of Anvil [DVD]
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on 8 July 2017
An absolute must-see for any fan of music. You don't need to be a metalhead to enjoy this.
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on 10 May 2009
The previous reviews were excellent, especially in discussing the conflicts that arise in Anvil.

I admire Spinal Tap for how the situations, characters and most of all the music actually pay homage to the whole rock genre it so archly satirises. I approached Anvil suspecting it would be a diluted version of the original spoof, maybe even playing on the heavy metal clichés for cheap laughs, but that's not the case. Although Anvil initially promises to expose the failed dreams of two ageing and deluded rock musicians - and there are many uncomfortable and hilarious scenes - by the end of the film you only want success and recognition for them. Their passion, optimism and friendship deserve nothing less.

Beyond the human journey, the documentary is so well crafted, for example, the cohesion of the Japan angle, the understated meetings with other rock musicians and the suspense of the ending. I actually had a tear in my eye on several occasions such as when Lipps' wife is interviewed, but I think these aspects were made more poignant by the exquisitely excruciating Spinal Tap sequences - look out for the rendition of Thumb Hang, the `I'll tell you in one, no two, no three words' conversation, and the textured toilet painting.

I'm not a heavy metal fan but it's difficult to be cynical about these people or the music; this film is so admirable and life-affirming - it's just great.
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on 27 June 2009
Like other people I suspect, I felt split down the middle - funny as hell, and heart wrenching in equal measures.

I'd heard of the band, and probably heard one or two tracks over the years, but they never entered my life as such. Probably indicative of their story really, never getting that 'killer' tune, or getting the breaks. In the 80s I was into mainstream rock, and saw the occasional poster with their name on it, but never batted an eyelid really.

This DVD could be their triumph, and only now can these boys possibly consider that their break has come. It takes you through all aspects of their life; the home drudge, the failed tour, the arguments and the stab at a killer album which would change their world. Lips is as vivid a character as you'll ever come across; never quite aloof enough to become a metal legend...he's more of the bloke around the corner who's in a band. His passion rages at times, and it was this that got me. Being the same age as these guys, and also being in a band, and also having dreams in my teens....a lot of what they said and showed hit it home to me what I was like.

I throughly recommend this DVD to anyone. It's ending is sublime. Just when you thought the band would get lost backstage (a la Tap) they entered the arena expecting 15 people there, and it wasn't quite like that. Boys, this is your legacy! Fame didn't come quite as you'd wanted it to, but whoever suggested making a DVD of your struggles and dreams, was a genius. This is a sublime piece of documentary.
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on 12 April 2009
This is a brilliant, moving documentary that is one of the highlights of the movie year. It was in turns hilarious (like when Lips starts on one of his rambles!), heart-breaking (the empty European basements the band plays in) and heart-warming (the brilliant ending in particular).

Although Lips can be a bit of a klutz and Reiner can be a bit pessimistic (with some justification given their years without major success), together they are brilliant characters and totally likeable. Their long-lasting friendship is really moving as are the scenes when, recording in the UK, they momentarily split up the band in a moment of acrimony only to patch it up soon thereafter. Lips wears his heart on his sleeve and his honesty and lack of pretention is very welcome given the music industry is full of divas. This is simply the tale of honest, hard-working friends trying to live their dream and sacrificing nearly everything to fulfill it. The scene where Lips tries his hand at hard-pressure telesales to fund the band and can't bring himself to lower his moral principles was wonderfully touching. I was really rooting for them both and the band throughout and only the hardest-of-hearts wouldn't want to see their dreams realised and for them to be successful.

Even if you don't like heavy metal and have never seen This Is Spinal Tap, this is really worth seeing. Yet more proof that, in recent years, documentaries are outshining mainstream Hollywood.
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on 25 August 2011
I'm not a heavy metal fan, in fact some heavy metal fans frighten me but this is way beyond the music. A heartfelt true story of two musicians still trying to make the big time after about 30 years and their passion for playing their music to people and their faith in themselves. This should be manadatory viewing for all X-Factor and similar show hopefuls because this is the reality of trying to make it in the music business.

I love the film, the DVD is well worth buying as it not only has the director's commentary but also the bands commentary separately. My wife also likes it very much, the characters are very engaging and extremely likable, I think it should appeal to a wide audience. If I had to find fault which is very difficult, I would say that the band's music shown in the film is not fully representative of what Anvil does, I have since listened to other tracks and would categorise them more as a heavy rock band than heavy metal, some of the tracks are very melodic and Lips is a very accomplished lead guitarist which doesn't come over so much in the film, no doubt becuae of time limitations and the fact that their fanbase is heavy metal orientated.

I highly recommend this, I even bought the t-shirts !
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on 26 August 2011
Great documentary about the most loveable bunch of "losers" on the planet - ahh - but losers they most certainly are not - the film is brilliant, their music career has had HRT and everybody loves them whether they like the music or not - good on ya fellas and keep on rockin'.
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VINE VOICEon 25 June 2009
Eighties metal band Anvil haven't been entirely unsuccessful. They have toured Japan with Bon Jovi, released 12 studio albums and are considered inspirational by Slayer, Guns 'N' Roses and Motorhead. Despite these accolades they never quite managed to hit the big time and when the likes of Motley Crue were playing stadiums, Anvil were left behind, forgotten by all but a hardcore following of loyal fans. Now in their fifties, original members Lips and Rob continue to believe they can still sell a million albums but have gotten stuck in a rut working 9-5 jobs and playing gigs in half empty bars. This documentary, shot by ex-Anvil roadie turned filmmaker Sacha Gervasi, follows the band as they record make or break album number 13.

Comparisons to 'Spinal Tap' are inevitable but 'Anvil!' manages to tread carefully through the unintentional comedy and never mocking the band. Whilst 'The Office' paints Brent as a fool, 'Anvil' portrays the band as loveable losers whose enthusiasm for rock & roll and dogged determination is as heartwarming as it is inspirational. They keep their chins up during a disastrous European tour, being ripped off by shady promoters and playing to empty pubs. Eventually it starts to seem that things may have reached a natural end but the boys decide to have one last shot at the big time with a thirteenth album if only they can raise enough money to get a great producer on board...

Anvil! is a charming look at the less glamorous side of rock stardom and the ending is so heartwarming you will be punching the air!
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on 14 February 2010
Watching the journey of Anvil's life you kind of get a taste of their crazy marathon quest for stardom. And i loved it! From the dingy european bars to the making of 13, there's never a moment you dont want them to triumph. Success, however seems against all odds and even though they once rocked with the rock elite life has dealt them a different hand. At 50 you can argue Anvil's destiny has been mapped out! Or has it!?! This movie is really excellent and worth the time spent watching it - let Anvil take you on their rock train! You wont regret it!
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on 18 March 2009
More than any film that I've seen in a while, this documentary stirred up a wide range of emotions in me, and at times I wasn't quite sure what to feel.

Let me first say up front that this is a great film which I really liked, and is well worth checking out whether you're into heavy metal music or not. Hence one of the many emotions referred to was laughter! As you may have heard, the film is at times hilarious in a "you couldn't make this up" sort of way (apparently some people mistake it for a Spinal Tap style mockumentary, and you can see why - a confusion that isn't helped by the drummer's name being Robb Reiner!). It has some classic lines and situations, and is very watchable. Certainly a film that you can enjoy watching either on your own or in a group.

My conflict came when I tried to work out what to feel towards these aging, passionate musicians. We're often told by inspirational books and films to "follow our dreams" - as a feel good message to motivate us to make the most of our lives. So what are we to make of this band that refuses to give up their art, in the face of obscurity and indifference, and despite the strain that this puts on the rest of their lives? Maybe this depends on what you personally feel about their music: to me they seemed out of touch and out of time...no more than a relic, and oblivious to the fact that they are no longer relevant, or indeed that even if they were still relevant it is hard to get your money back from making an album in this digital download age, or from touring when they've been replaced by younger bands that the kids can relate to. At times you are left with the uncomfortable feeling that they are being exploited.

But right there is the twist and the contradiction that leaves me confused! Because it is as a direct result of their refusal to give up or face the facts of their situation that has resulted in this film being made about them, which has in turn led to them getting a second bite of fame. And it wouldn't surprise me now if they HAVE made money on their album as a result of their new found fame, even though that seemed inconceivable during the film as they desperately tried to find a record label who thought it would be worth releasing. And if this is true, then take nothing away from them...they deserve it!

So many contradictions. Should I pity these guys and feel sad for them and their broken dreams...or admire them for their boundless enthusiasm and refusal to accept life's limitations, and feel happy for them that in some strange way it now seems to have paid off!? Well, I'm certain that in the wake of the film they have no regrets, and feel in some way vindicated, so hats off to them. For the rest of us, I guess all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

In summary, a fascinating and enjoyable documentary, which I recommend.
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on 22 June 2014
If you are a fan of any kind of Rock or Heavy Metal, then I suspect this is required viewing. At first, it seems that the film is simply going to be another human interest story involving two childhood buddies who, through grit and determination, vow to make it in the world of Heavy Metal, only to be cruelly cut down by their own delusion and lack of talent. We are shown footage from the '80s in which the band had some degree of success but as their musical contemporaries (Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Metallica) go on to global mega-stardom, poor old Anvil are left behind wondering where it all went wrong. It looks like this is going to be a bit painful.

Some of the opening scenes seem to confirm this as vocalist and guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudrow, cheerfully explains the complexities of his food delivery service: 'It might be pizza on Monday, then Shepherd's pie on Tuesday, then next week, it'll be Shepherd's pie on Monday and pizza on Tuesday.' His enthusiasm for his band is evident and he relishes Anvil's prospects. Drummer Rob Reiner, however, appears to be at his wits' end, working in construction and openly despising it, he cannot quite match his bandmate's seemingly undaunted self-belief that Anvil will, any time now, achieve their long deserved position at the top of the metal mountain. We feel that this is going to be a gruesome Spinal Tap-esque character assassination of epic proportions. This is somewhat underlined by the band actually visiting Stonehenge later on.

But, director Sacha Gervasi balances the humiliation with genuine warmth and sucks you in to the point where you simply cannot help rooting for these two likeable under-achievers. After 30 years of obscurity, they're still going for it and we are treated to a sincere and touching tale of dedicated under-dogs committed to their cause who just cannot break through. This is glaringly emphasised by genuine tributes by mega-stars such as Slash, Lemmy of Motorhead and Lars Ulrich of Metallica who diplomatically attempt to explain why Anvil have failed so magnificently to make the Metal grade. Their goodwill contrasts with cringingly awful moments where, at a Rock festival in Sweden, Lips chases after various musicians he used to know, only to be met with confused expressions and the inevitable, 'nice to see you again ... er, mate,' responses, to Lips confidently telling Sony Canada's A&R man, 'Metal on Metal is a classic album, it just never got the attention it deserved.' One suspects that the A&R man is struggling to resist telling him that classic albums become classic albums simply because they got precisely the attention they deserved: Sergeant Peppers, Led Zeppelin IV, Dark Side of the Moon, Quadrophenia ... Metal on Metal. They embark on a doom-laden European tour laced with epic failures of judgement involving forgetting to book trains to the next gig, being unable to find venues and not being paid by dodgy tour promoters. Along the way, they whip up their egregiously forgettable songs in dingy basement clubs frequented only by dangerously alienated members of society.

But then, the guys get a break, renowned producer Chris Tsangarides (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) agrees to produce their thirteenth album 'This is Thirteen,' and off the band goes to England to record it. They have to distribute it themselves though as Tsangarides' compassion (and experience) doesn't quite stretch to shouldering the frankly unrecoupable overheads, and unsurprisingly, the album descends into the yawning abyss of utter lack of interest. But it's not all gloom and doom as Lips fields a call from a Japanese promoter to do a gig in Japan - at the decidedly un-rock and roll hour of 9.45 am. Still, it's a capacity crowd and Lips' joy is, well, a joy to behold as he wades into his flying V guitar to reel off yet another God-awful '80s metal riff.

The documentary is very well made and effortlessly segues live performances with interviews with wives and family who are supportive, but realistically underwhelmed at the rockers' prospects. As a result of the film's success, Anvil has enjoyed something of, well, not a come-back exactly as you have to have had some sort of success to begin with, but a renewal of interest at least. Sadly it seems, Anvil seem doomed to return to their true place in the pantheon of rock - well outside of it. The problem, as the film so adequately shows, is that they really weren't that good to begin with, which is something the two friends never seem to consider.

On a personal level, my true sympathies lie with Reiner who is a truly accomplished drummer. One cannot help thinking that if he'd chosen to nail his colours to anything other than the Anvil mast, he may very well be kicking back in his infinity pool overlooking the Hollywood hills at this very moment. Alas, he stuck it out with his buddy and you have to love him for it as he attempts to install some semblance of common sense into his bandmate who continually blames everyone other than himself for Anvil's total lack of musical credibility. Kudrow blames lack of proper management, poor production, non-existent distribution, and pretty much everything else apart from the fairly obvious conclusion that nobody really wants to listen to ancient rockers pounding out dire, infantile thrash metal when they could be listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

This is a well-balanced piece of work that manages to just stop short of outright ridicule owing to the sincerity and dedication of its protagonists and leaves you hoping that these guys can achieve some sort of satisfactory success to repay them for the decades of effort they've put in. Unfortunately, recent album sales for their 15th album, 'Hope in Hell,' suggests that they should have stuck with the original phrase as an indication of their future prospects.
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