Film Reviews

METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER

By • Oct 2nd, 2013 •

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Give me fuel GIve me Fire Give us all the Metallica that we desire. Written with total bias and non-regret, as I have traversed this great nation headbanging to this band in many arenas, I implore thee to go now and experience METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER in glorious IMAX 3D. To all the naysayers of 3D, if there ever were a reason for the third dimension, forget blue aliens, hobbits, and tigers in boats, this concert film is it. To take from the Memorex ad from yesteryear, Is it live or is it…METALLICA?!!!

This is not a follow-up to SOME KIND OF MONSTER in which we peek into the post-traumatic band therapy sessions with fingers crossed and hopeful trepidations that the good psych doc got his wish to pen some tunes. Please, no. Nor is Bob Rock anywhere to be found. It’s Metallica emitting screaming wattage on a specially designed stage with high-voltage Tesla coils, elaborate stage props in reference to their albums, and awesome pyro. When the notes from THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY ring and flashlights illuminate the way, the band takes the stage and it’s show time.

The screening I attended was hosted by Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine as radio show contest winners made up the general audience. A homeless man in a bed sheet also made it to the show. At press check-in, earplugs were provided for the old and the fearful of tinnitus. Security collected phones and used a night vision scope to scout out those that would commit piracy.

To cinephiles, piracy is a cardinal sin. Be it on the streets of New York or Bangkok, bootleg discs with such image degradation is unacceptable. THROUGH THE NEVER needs to be seen on a big screen. Home theater systems and screens of lesser definition and size will not display the absolutely beautiful cinematography, 3D, set design, lighting, and animation that an army of talent gathered to create this film. Anyone who attended the New York Film Festival when the re-mastered BEN HUR was projected at Lincoln Center would agree that the experience is aptly described as majestic and could not be duplicated in your living room. To non-Metallica fans, see this film to truly appreciate good direction and technology at its apex.

The film opens with a sweeping camera as a lone skateboarder makes his way to an arena. In the bowels of the arena, the crew rushes to get the show rolling as the stadium fills. The skateboarder, Trip (Dane DeHann), a roadie, is given a task, more like a quest dominated by peril, and must exit the show to accomplish what is expected of him. He is far from ebullient at being whisked away from Metallica’s opening song. What he must endure, and the overall character tonality, is somewhat reminiscent of Edward Furlong’s character in TERMINATOR 2.

The odyssey that Trip takes is woven throughout the concert footage. A battle rages in the streets outside the arena. A lone rider among the rioters and police, mounted on horseback ,lassos and hangs his victims from utility poles. Guess who is in his sights next? The episodes in Trip’s journey directly affect the concert. The episodes in Trip’s embattlement are the root cause of the arena’s apocalyptic fervor. A crew assembles a statue from the In Justice For All album and it crashes to the stage. A power outage renders mega-wattage concert lighting and humongous sound cabinets dead, so Metallica employs work lights and amps to play Hit The Lights as Hetfield references their Kill ’em All days.

The narrative is finely crafted and shows the talent of director Nimrod Antal. Without detracting anything from Antal, I wonder why Anton Corbijn, director and photographer, who has worked with Metallica extensively, and has directed films such as THE AMERICAN with George Clooney, did not sit in the director chair for this project.

The film footage isn’t intended to act as a music video. The use of fire and the riot footage brings memories of when Metallica and Gun ‘N Roses were on tour in Montreal. Hetfield suffered second and third degree burns from the pyrotechnics and Metallica exited. A long delay between bands was followed by a displeased Axl Rose who cut the concert short and a riot ensued.

Does this narrative fully support the concert footage? No. Does it need to? No. The concert performed on what is publicized as the world’s largest stage designed specifically for this concert needs no support. The spatial differential between the four band members on stage is quite a distance. When the 3D steadicam-mounted-cameras get up close to the band, the viewer is on stage as close as close can get. Forget rushing to the front of the stage sardined by thousands of others to watch Hammett’s solos, get sprayed with Hetfield’s words, catch Lars’ drumstick, or feel the rumble from bass monster Trujillo. THROUGH THE NEVER gets you closer and is much more comfortable with the personal space offered by stadium seating. Although the concert stands on its own, the narrative adds another element. The realm in which Antal and Metallica created is total chaotic mayhem of the highest order.

WOODSTOCK, GIMME SHELTER, U2 RATTLE AND HUM, are among recorded concerts films that serve as documentaries. Concert films do not necessarily need to “make sense.” PINK FLOYD: LIVE AT POMPEII was filmed in Pompeii and studio footage was shot in Paris. There are cuts of mosaics and images from Pompeii as well as footage of the band walking about. What does it really mean? Led Zeppelin’s THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME is intercut with fantasy footage that had personal meaning to each band member.

Rock ‘n roll in all of its evolved states is meant to be loud and in your face. METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER is just that.

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