Critic’s Rating: Irrelevant
Rated R By the MPAA
Directed by Nimród Antal. Starring James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and Dane DeHaan. Opens Fri., Sept. 27 at area IMAX theaters.
Confession time: I was a teenage metalhead. Back in the early 1990s, right as Grunge was about to explode into the mainstream, I was busy head-banging away to Metallica’s “black album.” I saw the band three times in the 1990s and can vividly recall each show, the lasting impression being of fast tunes played at top volume while sweaty guys (always guys) thrashed around the mosh pit acting tough while trying not to get killed. It was a lot of fun.
I’ve moved on since then, both in my appreciation of music and my desire not get the pummeled at a concert. The same cannot be said for Metallica, who with the concert movie Metallica: Through The Never present yet another “greatest hits” collection and recreate some of their best concert stage production numbers in vivid IMAX 3D. If you are a Metallica fan, Through The Never is going to be a must-see. For everyone else, though, there is nothing here for you except a headache.
Through The Never is essentially two movies in one: The first a big-budget concert film featuring ample visual pyrotechnics as the band rips through catalog staples like “Ride The Lightning,” “Master of Puppets,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Fuel.” The other flick involves a roadie (played by A Place Beyond The Pines’ Dane DeHaan) who ventures out into the streets during the show to retrieve a bag from a broken-down truck and ends up in the middle of an apocalyptic confrontation between rioters, police and a frightening/goofy masked man on horseback who’s lynching people over lampposts.
The concert stuff is ably produced, and fully obscures the fact that what you are watching was created specifically for the film and is not a real show. (Through the Never was shot over successive nights in Toronto in front of a crowd that knew they were glorified extras.) The concert segments also feature “recreations” of some of Metallica’s biggest stage spectacle, including the huge, collapsing Lady Justice statue from the … And Justice For All tour (my personal favorite) and the collapsing stage from the “Cunning Stunts” tour, among others. Metallica is very into collapse, as it turns out.
The other half of the movie is a ridiculous hodgepodge of images without a plot. Call it a glorified music video that goes nowhere fast over the 45 or so minutes not spent on stage with the band. Some will find it compelling or scary. I found it utterly hilarious. (Wait until you see the puppet!) Perhaps someone on acid can tell me what it all means. I’m at a loss.
Metallica has been around since the early 1980s, and the public at large has long since made up its mind about the band. If you’re into the music and don’t care that there are ZERO surprises or variation in how the songs are presented, Through The Never will delight and entertain. (You’re an idiot if you buy the “live” album, however. Go get Live Shit for the real-deal experience.) If you’re not a fan of Metallica, this flick will blow out your eardrums and make your skin crawl. I’m glad I saw it (I enjoyed hearing metal classics like “Battery” for the first time in years and I had a ball swapping snide comments with my pal Jay as the goofier moments transpired), but I can’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already enlisted in the metal militia. Sad but true …