Metallica Through the Never succeeds as an enthralling and visceral concert movie viewing experience, even though it fails to use the film medium to enhance the experience.
Metallica Through the Never combines 3D footage of iconic 1980s American heavy metal band Metallica performing live in concert with a fictional storyline that revolves around a young roadie named Trip (played by Dane DeHaan). As the members of Metallica begin to (figuratively? literally?) bring the house down while playing to legions of roaring fans in a sold-out arena, Trip gets sent on a mission to find one of the band's trucks (which has broken down) and retrieve the mysterious but precious cargo that it was carrying.
Along the way, Trip finds that the insatiable passion of Metallica's music seems to have taken hold of the surrounding city and its citizens, resulting in chaos and madness everywhere - plunging Trip into a twisted and surreal one-night journey that he will never forget.
In Metallica Through the Never, director Nimród Antal and his cinematographer Gyula Pados (collaborators on Kontroll and Predators) capture the electrifying vibe and daredevil spirit of Metallica live through the use of sophisticated 3D cameras and rigs, giving rise to one of the most (if not the most) immersive concert movies ever produced. Fans of the eponymous band should enjoy the chance to have the concert viewing experience, minus the drawbacks that come when you attend a concert in person (uneven acoustics, claustrophobic atmosphere, etc.)... assuming you don't normally enjoy those aspects of the experience, that is.
Everyone else? Metallica Through the Never isn't all that accessible to newcomers, so it's for the best that you familiarize yourself with the recurring artistic themes and general sound of their music before sitting down in the theater; if you already know that you are not a fan, then you shouldn't bother seeing the movie at all (obviously). Antal's film is a celebration of the title band's soul, art and lineage, but not so much a fulfilling journey that takes viewers on an odyssey of discovery into the world of Metallica (and it skips on exploring how the band's popularity has been carried over by younger generations).
Antal and the current members of Metallica (lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, lead vocalist James Hetfield, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich) received credit for writing the film, but the fictional sequences in Metallica Through the Never are flat and only really explore the artistic substance of the band's music in a shallow and juvenile fashion; one that requires little heavy lifting from DeHaan, who would've been up to the challenge (see: Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines). Fortunately, Trip's "story" gets a limited amount of screen time and mostly functions as connective tissue between the dynamic concert numbers (though, some moviegoers will find these scenes to be distractions and little more).
Overall, Metallica Through the Never succeeds as an enthralling and visceral concert movie viewing experience, even though it fails to use the film medium to enhance the experience of watching (and listening to) Metallica on a deeper level of artistic appreciation. Having said that: if you love the band - and cannot see them at an actual live concert (or are not a fan of the live experience) - then you should get your money's worth if you decide to check it out in theaters (also: yes to 3D, if possible in IMAX too).
In case you're still undecided, here is the trailer for Metallica Through the Never:
Metallica Through the Never is now playing in both regular and IMAX/3D theaters. It is 94 minutes long and Rated R for some violent content and language.