Last night, a special advance screening of Metallica’s much hyped 3D IMAX film Through The Never was held in New York City. Along with us, the theater was packed at least a hundred others and included an intro from That Metal Show’s Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine (who revealed that they’re trying to bring the show back from L.A. to N.Y.). The crowd had seen plenty of sneak peeks of the part concert/part narrative film online. But finally we finally had an answer to whether Metallica could pull off an IMAX movie.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the entire film was Metallica’s performance itself. Metallica has always been praised for its powerful stage show, filled with loads of pyro and jumbo screens, and the band truly upped the ante for the big screen. The gigantic center stage had all of Metallica’s “greatest bits,” everything from Doris the Lady Justice from … And Justice To All to the stage collapsing bit seen in 1997’s Cunning Stunts concert video. Yet as great of a sight as it was to see those bits, it was seeing the band’s natural chemistry onstage that stole the show. Unlike most concert films, you felt as if you were truly witnessing the show from the band’s point of view rather than the audience’s. This gave the viewers the opportunity to witness every mannerism, every strut, every interaction, and even every mistake up close and personal, a sight normally unavailable at most shows.
Unfortunately, though, the narrative aspect of the film didn’t hold up as well. Following a roadie (played by Dane DeHaan) retrieving an important item for Metallica while anarchy erupts outside the venue, the plot just doesn’t come together. While trying to be gritty, some parts simply come off a cheesy or disjointed [spoiler: we never find out what needed to be retrieved, and the purpose of the “death-dealing” horseman simply didn’t make sense]. By the time the hour and a half film comes to end, the plot leaves you confused and asking “wait, shouldn’t there be more?” (not “damn I need more!”). Furthermore, the plot was overall distracting from Metallica’s performance rather than complementary. This meant that rather than getting to simply see Metallica do what they do best, we were forced to see shortened performances in favor of narrative, quite possibly the biggest crime of the movie considering how well the live shots were filmed.
So all in all, Through The Never is an incredibly well-shot concert film that could’ve used either a stronger narrative or simply more concert footage. And considering that the film’s set was missing standards like “Seek And Destroy” (as well as the enormous “Metal Up Your Ass” toilet teased in photos and fan filmed footage), there’s certainly plenty of footage they could’ve used. Still, if you’re a die-hard Metallica fan, you won’t want to miss the opportunity of witnessing their explosive show on a big screen. It doesn’t quite replicate the experience of seeing them live in-person, but gives you an even more intense view of a Metallica concert. Metallica’s Through The Never hits IMAX screens nation-wide on September 27, expanding to non-IMAX screens the following week.