Super rock group Metallica attempt to break new ground with the release of their new film "Metallica Through the Never," mashing up the concert film genre with an adventure flick but the hybrid movie falls short of stunning innovation.
The more than 90 minute 3D IMAX film feels like a never-ending music video from MTV’s salad days when they actually played music videos. But the daring attempt at a narrative story line distracts from the incredible live performance by the band that was recorded over a three-night stint in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
The scripted part of "Through the Never" is centered on a young roadie named Trip, played by Dane DeHaan, who is tasked at the start of the Band’s show to bring gas to a crew member whose truck is stalled out in another part of town. Trip is told that the other roadie has something that the band needs for their concert. The roadie hops into his beat-up cargo van, pops a pill—likely containing some-sort of illicit substance—before getting into a car accident, which sets off a series of surreal and dangerous events throughout his quest.
The sequence of events that Trip encounters become more and more surreal—from rioters fighting cops in the streets of an unmanned city, to setting himself on fire, to an epic showdown with a mysterious horseman— and the viewers are left to interpret what these strange events mean.
The scenes are interspersed throughout footage of the concert in which the famous foursome of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo rip through song after song from their extensive catalog. It’s apparent while watching that the cinematic scenes of the film were written as visual accompaniment to each song on the set list, but it proves to be more of a distraction from what Metallica does best.
The film is a complete 180-degree turn from the band’s first foray into cinema with the 2004 documentary, “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” which shows the group in therapy sessions squabbling and bickering. The raw and honest look at the band left many wondering if their image was ruined at the time, but their performance in the new film will put any rumors to rest.
"Through the Never’s" true strengths lie within the band’s performance and the use of 3D to capture the live footage. The viewer is left with an immersive experience that includes shots of the frenetic crowd banging their heads and moshing to the Heavy Metal group as well as close ups of the band reveling in playing for their legions of rabid fans with an elaborate stage show.
With no tour planned for the foreseeable future, devoted Metallica fans will likely come out in droves to see "Through the Never," but the fictionalized half of the movie will likely not be enough of a draw to rope in the casual fan or movie-goer.
"Metallica Through the Never" hits theaters on Sept. 27.