Hell of a Meat Loaf
To state my case I have never been a huge fan of Meat Loaf, I have always enjoyed listening to his songs and watching him when he has appeared in a movie but have never religiously followed his career. I mention that because my reason for watching the biopic "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" is as a movie fan rather than a Meat Loaf fan and as such what I look for is different. That being said I enjoyed "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back", I don't think it's a good biopic but it is entertaining.
So "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" starts with us watching a very full on performance from Meat Loaf before he collapses off stage at which point we are taken back to his childhood. We watch how as a child he was bullied not only by other kids in school because of his size but also by his alcoholic father and at the same time we see the closeness with his sick mother. Now "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" is based on Meat Loaf's book of the same name and it does alter the story such as an early scene where it shows Meat still at High School when he learned of his mother's death when in truth he had moved away from home when this happened.
After the intro it takes us through his early career from touring in a musical, appearing in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", using some of the footage from the actual movie, to meeting musician and song writer Jim Steinman as well as meeting Leslie who he would go on to marry. All of which is dealt with relatively quickly to focus on the uphill battle that Jim and Meat Loaf faced when they came up with Bat out of Hell and no one would touch them because of it being very different. And this then leads into Meat Loaf's own problems with alcoholism, problems with his voice and losing everything.
The thing about "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" is that I am sure it is not the most factual of movies but it creates this story of a man driven to succeed by the memories of being bullied and by being so driven it pushes himself to the edge of destruction. And when taken as such it is surprisingly effective because whilst W. Earl Brown doesn't always convince as Meat Loaf the intensity of his performance especially during the numerous musical numbers blows you away. And that is where the movie ends up because whilst we are taken through his career and his marriage to Leslie the movie ends up all about Meat Loaf being driven to be great and prove others wrong.
Whether or not "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" works as a biopic or not one thing it does is make you appreciate how original "Bat out of Hell" is. Watching this mix of rock and opera delivered with such intensity blows you away.
What this all boils down to is that "Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back" works for casual fans of Meat Loaf's music but I fear it is too altered for big fans of the singer and actor.