Metallica are of course no strangers to the silver screen, but unlike the band’s previous cinematic outing Some Kind of Monster, Through The Never dispenses with the documentary style and goes for a narrative based musical story that bands like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles have done.
The basic premise of the story is that Metallica are performing an arena gig and we are told the story of our silent protagonist; a young roadie by the name of Trip who is charged with the task of recovering an item precious to the band that was left in a broken down truck in the middle of town and has to do so by the end of the gig.
However, Trip’s mission does not go smoothly and he gets himself into loads of weird situations. I won’t bother explaining what these situations are as I wouldn’t be able to do them Justice (zing!)
The opener has a few subtle gags such as the stereotypical overweight greasy haired Metallica fan showing up to an empty car park the day before the gig and a brilliant one involving Rob Trujillo’s thundering bass practice. For a concert film, there’s a load more gags dotted throughout the film and it fits nicely.
The band was absolutely fantastic. Dominating a sold-out arena and performing on a huge stage which had a floor made of screens showing various clips that fit their songs, they still have a knack for putting on jaw dropping visual feasts to accompany their bone crushing riffs and thumping basslines.
An excellent and well-known example of this is of course the obligatory war sequence when One is played, but this is by far the most impressive onstage performance I’ve seen of it, not to mention the excellent footage of Trip intercut with it. Trust me, you’ll love it. If that’s not enough, there’s an excellent homage to the Cunning Stunts concert DVD, which works rather nicely!
While the film segment is obviously scripted, the performance from the band however is not, or at least does not feel like it and this provides fantastic juxtaposition throughout the entire running time. From Kirk’s wailing (and somewhat ailing) solos to James Hetfield throwing what I like to call a Hetstrop where a mic cut out, which caused him to just tip it over in disgust during Ride The Lightning, all this intercut with a young roadie simply trying to get hold of something for the band.
The concert footage intercut with Trip’s mission blends together nicely. It has the feel and pacing of a short film (which is not a bad thing!) despite the running time clocking in at an hour and a half. I’ve seen Metallica live about 4 times and Through The Never perfectly captures the atmosphere of seeing them live. I saw it in 3D and it does work rather nicely, but like every other 3D movie except Dredd you won’t notice the difference.
The band’s post-gig performance of Orion in an empty stadium during the end credits is something of beauty. The band all stand close to one another as though they are rehearsing in a garage like in their early days and it’s definitely a nice closure to the narrative and the concert.
If you’ve thought about getting into Metallica, then this is a great start as they play many gems from all eras of their extensive career. However this does not take away the fact that it’s a movie for Metallica fans; if you don’t like this band then this film is not for you.
Speaking of Lars Ulrich, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview him at a press event in London. You can read it here.