Two things become abundantly clear after the conclusion of Through The Never, Metallica’s latest big screen foray: One, if Metallica come to play your town or city they will destroy it. Literally. Two, if there’s ever an open position for “Metallica gopher” you might want to consider applying for something safer, like, say a Police officer maybe?
Jokes aside, it’s fitting that the film opened on the 27th anniversary of original bassist Cliff Burton’s death and that current Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo was on hand in Boston to introduce the film and talk about its inception stemming from when IMAX first appeared on the scene and approached Metallica about doing a film in the format.
But is the film a fitting tribute to the memory of their fallen bassist or to the band itself?
Yes and no. As a concert film (Especially the IMAX 3D version), Through The Never is unstoppable. The massive 360 “in-the-round” stage that was developed by Mark Fisher (Who also designed The Wall by Pink Floyd) absolutely jumps off the screen especially during some of the larger numbers like “…And Justice For All” and “One”. If you’ve never been to a Metallica concert, this is the next best thing. If you’re already a veteran of the San Franciscan’s live onslaught then you’ll inevitably find yourself tapping along, banging your head, and singing along through the blistering set that opens with “Creeping Death” and continues through the band’s illustrious catalog. As a side note, please try to remember this is a film and not a real concert and that “singing along” is frowned upon.
As for the “film” aspect, Trujillo elaborated on the choice of director:
“We wanted to have a narrative and we needed to find that director. Lars (Ulrich, drums) interviewed about 10 directors and we had about five that came up to San Francisco and Nimrod Antal (Predators, Vacancy) was the right guy. He had that crazy look. Basically, we’re all pretty nuts in the band and I always say that Metallica is built on a series of challenges. I remember when I first joined the band we played San Quentin State Penitentiary for St. Anger and then we played three gigs in one day on the hottest day in France. It was so hot, I mean, we almost died. It’s always the challenge so Through The Never is an extension of that.”
The “narrative” in question focuses on Dane Dehaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Chronicle) who plays a gopher/fan of Metallica tasked with traveling out into the city in search of a broke down truck carrying a bag containing something that’s near and dear to the band. If this was simply a concert film it’d be phenomenal but the addition of the story elements focusing on Dehaan’s mute protagonist navigating through what becomes a Mad Max-like wasteland is needlessly distracting for the viewer and downright creepy at points leaving more questions than answers in the end (Was any of it real? What was in the bag?).