‘Metallica: Through The Never’ Review: The Band Soars On Stage, While The Apocalyptic Fiction Outside Falls Flat
Metallica: Through The Never breaks new ground where band films are concerned, blending elements of a tour documentary with that of a feature film in a 3D picture musical adventure. Through the Never, directed by Nimrod Antal, features up-and-coming young actor Dean DeHaan as a roadie sent out on an errand while Metallica performs a sold out show.
As Metallica: Through the Never begins, Trip (DeHaan) arrives at the arena on his skateboard, weaving through the parking lots and into the concourse where the elder roadies are doing last minute checks. He passes a room where Robert Trujillo is shredding his bass, amping himself up for the show. When James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and Trujillo finally take the stage, Trip stands in an aisle, punching the air with his fist in time to the music along with the rest of Metallica’s legion of fans.
Metallica’s set design upon the stage is a character unto its self. The expansive stage, composed of hundreds of LCD screens, displayed everything from plain colors, to a river of blood and even a black and white war film. Pyrotechnics burst through the floor, as do crosses, as overhead amps take the shape of coffins and a statue constructs itself on the stage only to shatter into pieces. Whatever flaws Metallica: Through the Never has, the largesse of the live show definitely wasn’t one of them.
Though DeHaan is a commendable emerging actor who sells himself as the dedicated roadie more than adequately, his apocalyptic narrative sequences disappoint. His journey through the riot-torn metropolis provides a series of outlandish events that verge more on campy than sinister. As he battles against the throngs of street thugs and a headless horseman, Trip faces the torment of a dashboard doll imbued with some kind of evil spirit. After immolating himself while cornered in an alley, he makes his way to the roof of a building. When his fist hits the ground, the city – including the arena – shakes.
Metallica fans will likely be pleased with the set list for the movie concert – which includes, “Hit the Lights,” “Ride the Lightning,” “Enter the Sandman,” “Master of Puppets” – and the general commitment of the band throughout the performance. Hetfield commands the stage and his screaming vocals, while Trujillo tears at his bass from a low crouch, Hammett’s finger fly away on his guitar and Ulrich hams up his facial expressions as he sets the rhythm on the drums.
The staged concert is truly remarkable, in part due to the cinematography of Gyula Pados, but the groundbreaking narrative interwoven throughout left something to be desired. When Trip returns with the all-important bag, Metallica gives one final rocking metal performance without an audience. After the song ends, the camera finds the unopened bag, begging for the contents to be revealed – but the shot fades to black.
The band members, who’ve made it known they helped Antal with the script, would have done better to stick to the music that’s made them one of the best bands in history over their 30 years together and stayed away from the storytelling.