Metallica is one of those bands that I’ve only recently had a true appreciation for. Sure, they were around as I was growing up – taking the form of ill-fitting faded T-shirts on the backs of local n’er-do-wells and seeing the clips for tracks such as “One” and “Enter Sandman” pop up on Rage time and again. I was only really turned on to their sound by Load (the most hated Metallica album by “true fans” until St Anger struck). The catchier rock vibe was something I could sink my teeth into and I’ve followed with half interest along with each release ever since. It was somewhere in my late teens that I got the chance to see an old VHS live release of theirs called Cunning Stunts which was a bit of a new and old Metallica mixed bag where partway through the show a series of technical “faults” occurred, rendering their lights and supporting gear useless in a spectacularly theatrical way. The rest of the show was played out garage style on a smaller stage set closer to the crowd where they played stuff from before they began making a considerable dent in the scene (Kill ‘Em All).
Enough with the memories, Metallica now exist in a realm that few bands have made it to – they can pretty much do whatever they want, like make a movie. This isn’t the first time they’ve graced the big screen (the boldly revealing Some Kind Of Monster documentary being their first) but it’s the first time they’ve been able to play with written narrative and the almighty 3D format.
Through The Never tells the story of Trip (Dane DeHaan), a Metallica fan who’s been given the opportunity to help out at his favourite band’s concert. He’s essentially an errand boy – the go-to guy for all things (trivial and otherwise). The film opens with him arriving at the concert and entering through the back door where we meet our heroes (the band) in passing and establish his role there. The concert begins and Trip, not being needed for anything for the moment, gets the chance to hang out and enjoy the show. Soon enough, he is called upon to retrieve a macguffin which sets him off on an adventure of his own which we get to see as the band play on.As Trip progresses on his quest, things get weirder in a horror-tropey kind of way and it comes to a point where what he’s doing affects what’s happening on stage.
Not seeing this in 3D made me feel like I was missing the immersive experience that the band promised this would be (in media plugs), but if you’re a fan of the music and the band, it should be enough to get you through. They play a number of tracks from throughout their studio album career (with exceptions to Load and St. Anger) and it’s a well-shot, spectacle-filled live show that sounds great too. I wasn’t particularly sold on the Trip narrative but I’m wondering if 15-year-old me might have like it.