Cunning Stunts

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Music Video Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 130 minutes Other Extras Menu Animation - Disk 1 & Disk 2
Featurettes - Disk 1: Back Stage Pre-Show, Fans, Dan Braun & Production, JB & The Light, New Stage
Featurettes - Disk 2: Interacting with the Fans, Rob & Joe, Kirk and Guitars Big Mick, Final Destruction, Flaming Dude, Bob Bender
Photo Gallery - Disk 2 (approx. 1000 stills with accompanying audio)
Multiple Angles - 3 songs - 5 angles
DVD-ROM Enhanced
RSDL/Flipper Disk 1: RSDL (62:43), Disk 2: Single Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 0 Director Wayne Isham

Starring James Hetfield
Kirk Hammett
Jason Newsted
Lars Ulrich
RRP $49.95 Music Metallica

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio N/A    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English    

Plot Synopsis

    Metallica: Cunning Stunts is a stunning presentation of the band's performance during their Cunning Stunts tour. It was recorded live over two nights in Fort Worth, Texas.

    I must admit to not being a heavy metal fan, and basically being unfamiliar with Metallica other than by name. However, there is a lot of energy captured on this disc - I have no doubt that this would be even more so when you are there in person. Nonetheless, even though it got a bit much for me towards the end, and I had to turn the sound down a little, I did have to admire the musical ability of these guys - ably demonstrated during Bass/Guitar Doodle.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is reasonable for a live direct-to-video show.

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 4:3, not 16x9 enhanced. There are two discs in this set. The first disc is the concert proper with about half of the extras. It is an RSDL disc. The second disc is the encore songs along with the other half of the extras.

    The transfer is not all that sharp, with certain camera shots being quite fuzzy. Shadow detail is fair, though there is some low level noise present during some of the blacker scenes. I have no doubt that this would be much worse on VHS.

    The colours were passably rendered. There was a fair bit of chroma noise present, particularly during heavily blue-lit sequences, but this never became anything more than a minor distraction.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Aliasing was somewhat of a problem with this transfer, with the floor of the stage in particular being problematic, even to the stage of generating some moiré artefacts. Film artefacts were non existent since this transfer was direct to video.

    The first disc of this set is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 62:43, between Chapters 11 and 12. This is reasonably placed, though I would have thought an extra second or two would have put the change in a better spot. The second disc of this set contains the encore songs, and it is certainly most appropriate to put a disc break at this point rather than at any time during the concert proper.

    This disc features 3 songs which take advantage of the multiple angle feature of DVD. The 3 songs that are formatted thus are; Ain't My Bitch, For Whom The Bell Tolls, and Wherever I May Roam. These songs feature 5 separate angles for the majority of the song. Angle 1 is the conventional angle with cuts between the performers. Angle 2 focuses on the lead singer, James Hetfield. Angle 3 focuses on the bass guitarist, Jason Newsted. Angle 4 focuses on the guitarist, Kirk Hammett. Angle 5 focuses on the drummer, Lars Ulrich. These are a fantastic innovation, and would be superb for anyone who wished to study the technique of one or other of the band's members in detail.


    There are two audio tracks to choose from on this DVD. The default is English Dolby Digital 2.0. The other track is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The authoring of this disc has been done such that you cannot switch between the audio tracks on the fly - you must switch them from the menu. This is a minor irritation.

    The words to the songs were quite easy to make out, and quite profane at times, as was the intersong banter - definitely not for younger ears!

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The music was heavy metal (duh!).

     The surround channels carried crowd noises, with the band mixed L/C/R. I compared the 2.0 stereo mix with the 5.1 mix and noted that the 2.0 mix was much more bass-heavy. On the other hand, the 5.1 mix had more clarity. Overall, I preferred the 5.1 mix to the 2.0 mix.

    The .1 channel was heavily utilized.


    There is an amazing collection of extras on this disc. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 4:3 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The discs themselves are packaged in two Super Jewel cases enclosed in a cardboard slip cover.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    As far as I can tell, we have the same set of features as the Region 1 DVD.


    The menu design on the disc is themed appropriately, with full Metallica animation and sound.


    There are a lot of featurettes spread over the two discs. They are all between 2 and 5 minutes long, and cover specific topics. Disk 1 has; Back Stage Pre-Show, Fans, Dan Braun & Production, JB & The Light, and New Stage. Disk 2 has; Interacting with the Fans, Rob & Joe (with cute added animation), Kirk and Guitars Big Mick (mixer), Final Destruction, Flaming Dude, and Bob Bender (security).

Photo Gallery

    This is a collection of approximately 1,000 photos from the Cunning Stunts tour. They are underscored by Metallica, and each photo is displayed for approximately 3 seconds.

DVD-ROM Features

    Contained on this disc are web links and a detailed discography.


    Metallica: Cunning Stunts is a great example of how to present a concert video. Even though I am not a fan, I was deeply impressed with the quality of the overall presentation. In a nutshell, if you are a Metallica fan, you will want this disc.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are sensational.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
3rd June 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer