For­get story, just rock out

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

WHO says a movie has to make sense to be en­ter­tain­ing? Me­tal­lica Through the Never is part con­cert doc­u­men­tary, part apoc­a­lypse thriller, part IMAX 3-D ex­trav­a­ganza and a ver­i­ta­ble tur­ducken of fan­tasy film, stage spec­ta­cle and crush­ing sonic ag­gres­sion. The idea, 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, best­seat-in-the-house hour of chug­ging rock bru­tal­ity, I’ll pay gladly.

The film opens at Van­cou­ver’s mon­u­men­tal Rogers Arena as crew mem­bers set up for the band’s mas­sive stage spec­ta­cle. The tone is light. In the park­ing lot, we meet the ar­che­typal Me­tal­lica fa­natic.

A ju­nior roadie named Trip (sleepy-eyed 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 al­limpor­tant 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 with Creep­ing Death. 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 ter­rors af­flict­ing poor, trapped Trip. Fuel kicks off his night-time jour­ney. His good luck charm (not a very ef­fec­tive one) is a jointed pup­pet, which is surely re­lated to the band’s an­them Mas­ter of Pup­pets.

Don’t ask how, or why there are mon­strosi­ties prowl­ing Van­cou­ver at mid­night.

My in­ter­pre­ta­tion is that ev­ery­thing that hap­pens to the gofer af­ter swal­low­ing his pill is hal­lu­ci­na­tion. I hope so, be­cause the nar­ra­tive seg­ments don’t make a lick of sense.

Most ticket buy­ers will line up for the mu­sic any­way, and that is a mon­u­ment of gnarly beauty.

Lead singer/gui­tarist James Het­field, drum­mer Lars Ul­rich, gui­tar vir­tu­oso Kirk Ham­mett and bass­mas­ter Robert Tru­jillo pull out ev­ery thrash metal riff, gi­ant stage prop, laser ef­fect and py­rotech­nic gim­mick in their 30-year bag of tricks.

Di­rec­tor Nim­rod 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 blaz­ing through a 14-song great­est hits set.

Me­tal­lica fa­mously sur­vived the kind of in­ter­nal dis­sen­sion that de­stroyed Guns ’N’ Roses, and they’re all the stronger for it to­day, with undimmed en­ergy and love for what they do.

Through the Never puts the proof right be­fore your eyes and ears.


Me­tal­lica Through the Never opens to­day.

James Het­field of Me­tal­lica

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