Who says a movie has to make sense to be entertaining? "Metallica Through the Never" is a concert documentary/apocalypse thriller/Imax 3-D extravaganza, a combination fantasy film, stage spectacle and crushing sonic aggression.
The idea, I guess, was to make a concept album in film form. It plays as if the projectionist
mismatched reels of essentially unrelated movies, but I'm OK with that. If half an hour of bizarro side-narrative fever dream is the price of admission for a gorgeously lensed, best-seat-in-the-house hour of chugging rock brutality, I'll pay gladly.
The film opens at Vancouver's Rogers Arena as crew members set up for the band's stage spectacle. The tone is light. In the parking lot, we meet the archetypal Metallica fanatic, a beer-bellied lummox. A junior roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) skateboards into the hockey palace, bumps into the band members in a series of jokey on-the-fly encounters, then receives a mysterious assignment. He must find a stranded van, retrieve an all-important satchel and return it backstage at top speed. En route, he takes a pill and encounters "Mad Max"-style eruptions of surreal violence and urban breakdown.
While Trip battles a Bane-like hulking executioner and zombie armies of the night, the concert roars to life. The energetic arena performance and literal riots outside have some tenuous thematic connections. The band's death-centric lyrics and arsenal of Grand Guignol stage effects resonate with the terrors afflicting poor, trapped Trip.
Most ticket buyers will line up for the music, anyway, and that is a monument of gnarly beauty. The band pulls out every thrash metal riff, giant stage prop, laser effect and pyrotechnic gimmick in its 30-year bag of tricks. Director Nimród Antal ("Predators") is equally resourceful, employing 24 cameras, multiple dollies, cranes and Steadicams to shoot each song in its own visual style.
The result is a portrait of a band at the top of its form.
PLOT Concert documentary -- and much more -- about the venerable heavy-metal band
RATING R (some violent content and language)
CAST Metallica, Dane DeHaan
BOTTOM LINE Earsplitting enjoyment