Review: Metallica: Through The Never
PLOT: Metallica roadie Trip is about to experience a night he will never forget. When the concert begins he is assigned a simple task that turns into a nightmare in a strange apocalyptic world. Plus, there is a ton of rock and roll to keep the fans satisfied.
In the early morning hours, a car pulls up in the dirty parking lot of a concert arena. The man inside the vehicle gets out and begins screaming something along the lines of, “Metallica! Yes! Mutherf*cking Metallica!” It is probably not the unlikeliest of scenarios when fans are headed to see their favorite band in concert…and what a concert it is! In the Nimród Antal directed feature film, METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER, he sets the stage for what may be one of the most electrifying live performances ever captured on film. The band – including lead singer James Hetfield, bassist Robert Trujillo, guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich – are at the top of their game as they play for a packed stadium in this humongous IMAX 3D concert film with a twist.
Presented as a massive stadium show, Metallica is beyond impressive here. The set list runs the gamut from “Master of Puppets” and “Battery” to “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” from the “Black” album. They wisely chose many of the songs fans grew up with, ones which have inspired all sorts of teen angst. Songs like “One” are brilliantly played while the “…And Justice for All” sequence is a thrillingly inventive moment with a tumbling statue that looks to crush those underneath. The imagery on top of the music itself is a stunning achievement. There are massive coffins hanging from above where images of people buried inside flicker to life. The stage erupts with massive explosions and laser lights shoot through the arena. As much as I envy those who were actually in attendance for this concert, it is a thing of beauty to see in IMAX in 3D.
In between the screeching guitars there is a sort of story at play. Part of the film follows the psychedelic visions the aforementioned young roadie, Trip, played by Dane DeHaan. When Trip arrives at the show in his van – appropriately adorned with Metallica bumper stickers - it is very obvious that he would rather watch the concert. When Metallica takes the stage, he wanders into the sea of bodies and sweat only to be called away to bring fuel to a stalled truck. What is so important about this truck? It contains something that the band needs for the show. What normally would be a simple task is far from it as Trip is confronted with warring cops and looters, apocalyptic horsemen and a society gone mad. There is no dialogue in this surreal journey, and to be honest, there isn’t much of a point, but it looks damn impressive.
The ending will be frustrating for those looking for meaning in this musical end of the world nightmare. As visually striking as this pitch black fairy tale may be, it is far more in the vein of a music video as opposed to a narrative story. The visuals are powerful, especially one particular sequence involving a hanging as well as its bleak aftermath. There is much that is strange and provocative and DeHaan has the perfect wide-eyed wonderment mixed with a little psychosis to witness this surreal passage. The sure to be divisive finale is an interesting choice and one that will have audiences scratching their heads. Without going into details, it is clear the filmmaker as well as the band had their reasons for it and I look forward to a commentary on the Blu-ray to hear them. On the other hand, I applaud the fact that they took the risk in such a bold manner.
While METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER may not reach the heights of PINK FLOYD THE WALL, it is certainly one to watch in amazement. As a fan myself, it is well worth taking this all in on an IMAX 3D screen. Antal has a keen eye for filming a concert this majestic and hardcore fans will more than likely find themselves watching in wonderment and singing along. And yes it is an exceptionally well done concert film, even if the narrative doesn’t have nearly the impact it should. The strange and brutal world Trip finds himself is a interesting watch, yet it feels more like a terrifically shot music video. However, light the story itself may be, as a music fan – especially a Metallica fan - THROUGH THE NEVER is a rock and roll cinematic trip worth taking.