Metallica: Through the Never | Film reviews, news & interviews
Metallica: Through the Never
Metal's biggest band blown up to 3D for an apocalyptic gig
This 3D film lets you see the whites of Metallica’s eyes. Filmed live last year, the band are already gurning and grinning sufficiently to project their exuberance at playing their songs of rage and pain to the biggest hall's back without video assistance (singer James Hetfield is pictured below). Nimrod Antal’s cameras anyway let you experience US metal’s biggest and most enduring band as if you’re on-stage with them. It functions like one of Elvis’s concert movies, letting Metallica get to you on-screen if you can’t get to them on tour. It also tacks on a post-apocalyptic tale outside the gig, the sort of conceit concept album-happy bands were always announcing in the 70s, before realising they didn’t quite have the talent or cash.
Metallica’s last cinema outing was Some Kind of Monster, an eye-wateringly honest documentary in which addictions and breakdowns were countered by a “performance coach”. Any Spinal Tap moments this time are wholly deliberate. From the moment we see the blood dripping from Kirk Hammett’s evil, Bela Lugosi-decorated guitar, and Rob Trujillo warming up on bass inside a Concorde-strength sonic boom chamber, the idea of Metallica as cartoon Berserkers is both pumped up and played with.
Meanwhile, loyal roadie Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent from the arena into a world which has inexplicably turned into a Metallica album, full of danger and darkness. The set-pieces pull no more punches than the music, as a confrontation between lines of rioting youths and mounted police leads to no-quarter carnage, a Molotov-cocktailed cop is dragged by his horse’s stirrup through a street where corpses hang from lamp-posts, and Trip douses himself with petrol, then flicks his lighter, trying to fight his way through pummelling hordes as a human torch. Clearly, being a Metallica roadie isn’t for everyone.
The city’s breakdown gradually infects the show, where lightning-bolt crackles give the stage a Frankenstein edge, as the mad scientists of thrash-metal play on. Songs such as “...And Justice for All” combine with video images and stage-sets drawn from past Metallica tours (the statue of buxom, blind Justice is pictured above). This all bleeds back into Trip’s increasingly dream-like rites of passage outside. The disinterest in narrative logic leaves this as the long-form music video you’d expect, in a way, with moody visuals loosely suggested by the songs. But this works better than any imaginable attempt at a straight feature film with Metallica at its core. Drawing freely from Mad Max and 2000 AD, but never intruding for long on the main business of the band playing, it’s the perfect compromise between a pure concert film and the fantasy excesses of Led Zeppelin’s infamous cinema Gotterdammerung, The Song Remains the Same. Unlike Zep in their decadent phase, Metallica retain their senses of proportion and humour.
All Through the Never ultimately amounts to is an optimum blast through their music, with production values unavailable on a DVD equivalent, plus some surreal and violent action to keep your brain ticking over. If you’re going to see a Metallica film at all, what more would you really want?
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Richard Linklater's life-enhancing epic gets a frills-free DVD release
Charming Disney animation which gives way to superhero spectacle
Memories of the Holocaust, and Alfred Hitchcock's attempts to sum up its visual testimony
Charlie Lyne's enjoyable documentary celebrates the teen movie but lacks rigour
Human nature is tested to destruction in Alex Garland's Artificial Intelligence thriller
Chekhovian break-up hits higher-end Bolivian society, strangely compellingly
Period crime drama packs a quietly potent punch
Alain Robbe-Grillet's modernist, sadomasochist cinema games revived
Unenlightening day-in-the-life portrait of French national broadcaster Radio France
Vera Brittain's First World War memoir prettifies the pain
Oscar contender and sleeper success is whiplash-smart
Art-house blaxploitation with a surreal edge is seen in full after four decades