Seeing Metallica’s Through The Never is both a gratifying and frustrating experience.
Don’t bother watching if you’re looking for an easily understood Hollywood film or documentary about the band; Through The Never is neither. It tells its story through incredible visual effects and songs rather than traditional dialogue. Does it succeed? For this reviewer, yes. The movie is quite poetic.
Not that you’d get that impression at first.
We’re introduced to the protagonist, Trip, a young blond Metallica fan with piercing blue eyes. He is given the cryptic task of retrieving a bag from somewhere for the band. As Trip begins his quest, Metallica’s concert begins with the band’s live-show favourite Creeping Death.
Trip leaves the concert, only to find himself in a post-apocalyptic USA where angry mobs of disfigured people and riot police are at war with each other. In the first 10 minutes observers will feel like headless chickens as they are ripped away from the band’s concert and thrown into a frenzy of unexplained violence in this fictional film.
Essentially this is a concert film but the Trip plot line runs through it. As such, Through the Never somehow captures the feeling of being at a Metallica concert without actually being there.
This is where the film gets frustrating.
If you have ever been to a Metallica concert you would know the extraordinary feeling of being in an audience of unity among the thousands of tattooed shirtless or sweaty fans who chant every word to every song. You can feel the respect and adoration they have for the band and each other.
Director Nimród Antal has managed to replicate the feeling on screen with incredible camera angles spiralling up and down through the vast set and focusing on the instruments when appropriate to give fantastic views. It really does feel like you’re there – so much so, it’s awkward when you raise your fist and almost yell some of the lyrics when you’re in a row full of seated, docile people.
In the end, this film is what Metallica has always been about. The film’s plot and Metallica’s songs tell a story about isolation. Both are about the frustration at being powerless and anger that leads to the discovery of strength. The theme of the movie, that strength lies within yourself and others around you, is echoed in the music. Metallica is about the community of people who have all probably gone through some hardship at some point in their lives. The music brings people together and gives them courage. That’s what the film is about.
Should I bother?
Yes. Metallica fans will appreciate the wide variety of songs: including old songs like Battery, new songs like Cyanide, mainstream hits like Enter Sandman and cult favourites like Orion or For Whom the Bell Tolls. For those who have never seen or listened to Metallica, this would be a good introduction – as well as an interesting film in its own right. – Sion Weatherhead
Photo: screenshot from Youtube promo for the movie.