Metallica Through the Never was released in 2013 and follows a young roadie called Trip, played by Dane DeHaan, on his fictional journey through Vancouver as he attempts to complete a delivery all while Metallica play live. The film features actual concert footage mixed in with fictional film sections and was tagged as a ground-breaking, music driven 3-D motion picture event. Quite the title eh?
The movie was directed by Nimrod Antal, recently famous for directing the 2010 movie Predators. There are very few actors in the movie other than Dane DeHaan and a whole bunch of extras for the film sections. Members of Metallica also do a few seconds of acting right at the beginning but otherwise are just playing their show. The concert footage itself comes from actual show footage filmed in Vancouver and Edmonton in August 2012 that has never been shown before. As a fan of Metallica, there is little chance of me disliking the concert section of this movie but I must admit I went into watching this expecting to not see the point of the film parts. It should also be noted that I did not get to see this film in 3-D, this review will be based on having watched it in 2-D.
The film starts with a sweeping camera over the city of Vancouver where you can see a brightly lit stadium in the background. As you zoom closer you get a quick view of a billboard advertising a Metallica show before coming to stop in a car park where an unfair but humorous stereotypical metaller pulls in in his car (a rusty old car with a skull taped to the grill and a “Whiplash” sticker). The man in question is wearing skin tight jeans and a denim cut-off covered in patches. He also has longish greasy hair and a t shirt that his beer gut slips out of as he raises his arms in delight and yells Metallica. In his excitement, he decides to scramble upon his car with great difficulty, slipping off numerous times before succeeding. I would like to point out quickly that while funny, there are a great many metallers out there who have t shirts that fit and are perfectly capable of climbing onto cars without difficulty.
As the man in question demonstrates his joy at the billboard, a young man skateboards passed him with a brown paper bag in his hands. The camera takes off after him as he weaves his way towards the stadium, down into the car park and eventually through some doors that lead him to a corridor where he hands his package to a man. That man tells him to stick around in case he is need for any other work. This roadie turns out to be the main character of the film, Trip, who starts making his way through the corridor to the main arena. On his path he encounters other roadies but also each member of Metallica as they prepare for their show. This scene is filmed very effectively as a time lapse video showing Trip, the fan base and Metallica as they slowly make their way towards the stadium from their own paths all to the tune of Ecstasy of Gold.
As Metallica blast into Creeping Death, complete with cinematic effects zooming and panning all over the stage, we get to see Trip rocking out in the stadium. For Whom the Bell Tolls is played next and during this we see Trip reluctantly pulled away from the gig and sent on another job where a truck due to deliver something important has ran out of fuel. Trip needs to get a canister and deliver fuel to the truck as quickly as possible. As Trip jumps into a van and heads off, Metallica start playing Fuel. Things with Trip start looking weird as he drives along completely deserted streets while trying to navigate a map. He accidentally runs a red light and ends up stopped in the intersection where he notices a sign that has a bloody handprint on it. Back to the show and Metallica are still rocking out Fuel and when we get back to Trip, he is still in the intersection when suddenly a car slams straight into him. As Trip crawls out of the wrecked van, electricity courses all over it as back on stage, Metallica start playing Ride the Lightning. Trip approaches the driver of the car that hit him but the driver just looks at him bewildered before sprinting off down the street. A horse then runs by with a police officer, presumably dead, being dragged behind it. As Trip makes his way onwards, we go back to the stage where Metallica are starting to play One. In Trips scenes around now, he finds himself stuck between a huge amount of protesters with weapons on his left and an army of riot police on his right and as One kicks in, these guys go to war on each other. A this point, out of nowhere a man on a horse appears with a hammer and starts hunting Trip throughout the rest of his scenes until he and Trip eventually have it out on a roof top.
While the scenes at first appeared odd, you will quickly pick up the pattern and relevance of each clip to the song being played such as a modern rioter/police warzone through One, driving scene and a crash through Fuel and Trip waking up from being unconscious while Enter Sandman plays.
Continuing his journey through many strange and wonderful trials, Trip eventually reaches the truck he seeks and finds the package that needs delivering which is inside a leather duffle bag in the back of the truck. He looks inside and is falls to the floor in shock before picking up the bag and heading back to the stadium while being hunted by the apocalyptic looking warrior on horseback. We never do get to see what was in the bag unfortunately but we do get to see all sorts of other scenes such as Trip setting himself on fire and then fighting people and Trip hitting the ground with a hammer that sends a shock wave crashing through the city, all the way back to the stadium where the stage starts falling apart, like in Cunning Stunts. Eventually Trip makes it back to the stadium where everyone is gone except for Metallica jamming Orion in the centre of the stage and the film fades out with a zoom in shot of that leather bag, still closed.
One of the best things in this film is that there is no real dialogue throughout the movie – just the music of Metallica where you are either watching them onstage or watching Trip while hearing them. All the classics you would expect to hear are played such as Master of Puppets, Battery, And Justice For All, Creeping Death and Cyanide to name a few.
The shows themselves look fantastic, the stage effects are phenomenal and seeing it through cinematic cameras adds a lot. Depending on your home set up I guess but I didn’t really feel the sound captured the real force of a live Metallica set but it wasn’t terrible. I was pleased that Metallica didn’t add loads of scenes of themselves acting and just left their part to being what they do best, playing heavy metal.
While the movie scenes could easily be classed as slightly mad and very unnecessary, I actually thought they looked great and were really cool to watch though I must admit that if they hadn’t been there and this had just been a recording of the whole live show with no film, I would have been just as happy. Maybe more so.
The issue with the film bits for me is that there is no real story or plot that is going to bring a new audience into the cinema to see a Metallica movie and for the die-hard fans already going, we don’t really want or need it and it takes away valuable screen time from the show.
Despite that though, I felt entertained at the end and the film sequences have definitely stuck in my head. Watching them jam Orion, while sitting facing each other on stage in an empty stadium is amazing as well and is worth watching the film alone for.
Completely bonkers but that aside, it is Metallica playing some of their best songs live on stage with hugely impressive effects and visuals. Along with that you get some violent and completely mad clips set to the tone of the songs being played. You also get to see them jam to Orion.
What isn’t to like? As long as you are a fan, of course.
Metallica – Through the Never