During a raging Metallica concert, a live performance and recording by the gods of metal themselves, a young roadie named Trip (the great Dane Dehaan, star of Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines) is sent on a mission to catch up with a truck driver who has been disabled on the way to the arena and procure a valuable item. But when his own mode of transport is hit by another vehicle, he finds himself stranded amongst a violent riot crowd on the anarchic, desolate streets and relentlessly pursued by a masked horseman as he tries to survive and return to the stadium with the band’s missing cargo. Directed by Nimrod Antal, who collaborated with Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, individually introduced in amusing fashion as we follow Trip’s VIP backstage entrance) on the screenplay, Metallica: Through the Never is an exhilarating and cinematic 3D concert film with a tense narrative accompaniment. This is truly a treat for fans. Probably just fans, but that’s who this film was made for after all. The band’s performance is exemplary, their grand stage takes on an amazing evolution, and the stylish and inventive visuals transport you into the building.
This flawlessly performed ‘greatest hits’ concert – with multiple tracks from their masterful early albums, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and …And Justice For All - was awesome on the enormous IMAX screen. The band plays as well as I have ever heard them, the sound blows you out of your seat and viewers are offered the feeling of actually being in the arena, except with the best seats in the house.
The inventive captures of the stage – spectacular overhead shots of Ulrich’s jaw-dropping performance on the drums and the base screen, sweeping shots out over the raucous crowd, close-ups of Hetfield screaming into the mic, Hammett’s coolly delivered guitar solos and down and dirty captures of Trujillo head banging with the crowd – indicates that there must have been cameras everywhere.
The weaving together of the fictional roadie sidebar story and the concert footage was much more elegant than I had been led to believe. The narrative arc actually fits nicely into the song line-up (‘Wherever I May Roam’ deserves a mention here), and there are only a few occasions when the story isn’t accompanied by the band’s music. Metallica are heavily prevalent, even when they aren’t on screen, which is exactly what you want.
Returns to the stage bring about the aforementioned impressive transformations – fire exploding from beneath the stage during ‘Fuel’, a huge electric chair during ‘Ride the Lightning’, silhouettes of walking soldiers during ‘One’, crosses emerging during ‘Master of Puppets’, the assembly of a statue representing the West Memphis Three case during ‘And Justice For All’. Be sure to stick around for the closing credits too, it features a perfect performance of ‘Orion’.
Surrounded by Metallica fans, there were audible cheers at the beginning of each song – classics like ‘Ride the Lightning’, ‘One’, ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ drew the biggest, of course – which further enhanced the experience.
This unique and wholly immersive concert film is an essential experience in the IMAX environment, but be quick about snatching up tickets because I believe it is screening for one week only. I am a big Metallica fan, and seeing them perform live – something I have never done - has been on the bucket list. I actually feel like I have seen it now. It was truly a treat to see this legendary thrash metal band performing their greatest songs in unexpected peak form.
Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22
Andy Buckle is a passionate Sydney-based film enthusiast and reviewer who has built a respected online voice at his personal blog, The Film Emporium. Andy will contribute reviews, features and be our resident film festival, and awards expert.