Movie Reviews

'Metallica: Through the Never': Stunning concert film growls and haunts

By Anjali RaguramanMovies - 30 September 2013 12:00 AM | Updated 01 October 2013

'Metallica: Through the Never': Stunning concert film growls and haunts

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

While there have been a slew of concert movies in recent years, nothing quite beats watching ‘Metallica: Through The Never’ on IMAX 3D, especially if you are a fan of the heavy metal band.

It’s in the vein of Pink Floyd’s ‘Live at Pompeii' (1972), but amped up a 100 times in true Metallica style.

Directed by Nimrod Antal ('Predators', 'Kontroll'), the film is 80-per-cent concert, and 20-per-cent a sinister, surreal narrative on a young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan, 'Chronicle'), who is tasked with retrieving an item for the band from a tour truck that has run out of gas.

While Metallica plays a soldout show, the film keeps cutting away to Trip’s journey which has become a living nightmare, complete with street gangs, riot police and a gas mask-wearing horseman of the apocalypse.

Some of the non-concert scenes featuring Trip are truly dark and haunting, thanks to a chilling cityscape that Antal has created. With the disconcertingly weathered features on his young face, and his permanent look of displeasure, DeHaan portrays the perfect metalhead roadie. He is literally a die-hard fan and will do anything to deliver the band’s cargo.

Dane DeHaan as Trip the roadie, who finds himself caught in a nightmare come to life.

Subplot aside, the band members carry the film with their larger-than-life personas. From the moment Ennio Morricone’s ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ starts playing (the band have been using that as their entrance music since their first-ever live shows), you know you’re in for a full-on Metallica show.

LIKE PART OF THE CROWD

The live show element of the film was filmed over multiple concert dates in front of sold-out crowds in August 2012. The beauty of it being in IMAX 3D is that you will feel like you are a part of the crowd.

Here, the immense stage itself deserves a special mention. Lasers, pyrotechnics, smoke machines and trap doors are far too basic for Metallica, who have created a beast with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in.

The special effects, visual effects and props for the stage were all inspired by the band’s album covers, Prominent elements include a crumbling Lady Justice statue from ‘...And Justice For All’ (1988), the electric chair from ‘Ride The Lightning’ (1984), and a sea of crosses that rise from the floor, imitating ‘Master of Puppets’ (1986). 

Behind the scenes: Bringing the 'Ride the Lightning' electric chair to life

The fantastic visuals keep it interesting for the viewer, who is allowed to appreciate every detail of this elaborate monster of a stage, such as "blood" spreading underneath the LED-lit stage.

The immersive experience also means you can see every arm hair and tattoo on lead singer James Hetfield, and close-ups of the band’s tight musicianship, such as lead guitarist Kirk Hammett’s guitar-shredding, Lars Ulrich’s manic double-pedal drumming or Robert Trujillo’s low-slung bass guitar assault.

The band draws on the biggest hits from their three decades' worth of material with classics such as ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’ and ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.

The songs are seamlessly woven into the subplot where there is barely any dialogue, never taking away from the live concert experience. 

While shots of the film crews in frame, with their bulky IMAX cameras on stage, broke the illusion once in a while, the film successfully captures the ferocity, aggression and raw energy of one of Metallica’s live shows, to keep fans occupied until they can watch them in person again. 

Check out pictures of Metallica's recent concert in Singapore after 20 years

'Metallica: Through The Never' is showing exclusively at Shaw Lido and JCube cinemas