Through The Never (DVD)
Released: 2012, Blackened Recordings
In the history of Metal-rules.com we have only ever very rarely reviewed the theatrical release of a film. There are a number of reasons for this. Movies are released at different times in different areas by different distributors so a movie that may be playing in the writers city, may not have a wide-theatrical release. Secondly, some of these specialty Metal movies with limited appeal usually only run for a week or two or even for just one screening. Sometimes it is hard to write a review for a movie on the fly with one viewing session. Lastly, the writers has to be a pretty dedicated fan, and really be on top of the scene to see the movie and write a review and get it up before the movie disappeared. For these reasons usually we wait until the DVD comes out. Everyone has it (or can get it) the writer can watch it a couple of times, deadlines aren’t as strict and then there is always the bonus footage.
However, THROUGH THE NEVER is too special of an event to let slip by so I decided to go for it and write a review. I’m sure one of our fine staff will write a review of the DVD when it comes out. The primary footage for the concert/action film movie was shot in Vancouver in 2012 and the film was released on Sept 27th, the 27th anniversary of Cliff Burton’s death. There is a nice synchronicity of those numbers, don’t you think? To the best of my knowledge this is the first movie about a Metal band shot in HD, 3D, IMAX, so the mighty machine that is Metallica has another first. The film was directed by a young shot director Nimrod Antal who has done a few action/horror pics such as Vacancy, Armoured and the recent 2010 Predator reboot. I believe the move was funded by Metallica and cost a mere 18 million. The 'star' is a relatively unknown kid, Dane DeHaan, who did some TV work on Law And Order and the popular HBO Vampire themed series, True Blood.
I’m not the world’s biggest Metallica fan and I had not really planned on seeing this in the theater, again like many people, preferring to get the DVD later. However, the opportunity to see THROUGH THE NEVER fell in my lap, I had a free afternoon while visiting Vancouver, BC, where the film was shot and where I used to live for years. It was nice to be back there. The setting was pretty much perfect to enjoy the film. The theater was empty except for me and two other people. Good for me to watch, maybe bad for the box-office but a Tuesday matinee is not usually prime-time for movies anyway. My anticipation was quite high as I had not seen an Imax film in 20 years and I rarely go to movies (maybe one a year) so 3D is still a cool novelty for me. So I’m set up, dead center, glasses on and ready to rock. What I got was complete and total sonic and visual immersion into an incredible concert/action film. I was completely blown away on all levels.
I can’t even begin to describe it. The film was shot so that you are onstage with the band in the round. The only way to duplicate this would be to be on stage with the band in real life and even that might not have the same sweeping panoramic effect of the multi-camera, multi-angle shots. There have been a few critics who have said the plot is thin, but who cares? Plot is for chick films. It is a concert film with a storyline inter-spliced about a runner on a mission to get something for the band. As the main character moves through the streets of downtown Vancouver (of which I was very familiar and recognized many spots) he encounters increasingly bizarre and hostile resistance from rioters rampaging through the streets. This is very likely a nod to the long and rich history of rioting in Vancouver. From the riots of 1883 (anti-Chinese), 1971 (drugs), 1994 and 2011 (hockey) to commemorating the 10th anniversary of riots at the very same stadium of the Guns ‘n’ Roses tour of 1992, Vancouver is one rocking rioting town. So much for all those peaceful hippies in Vangroovy!
The film becomes increasingly, violent and frightening. Soon as the concert rages on the main character descends into a surreal, dark-horror fantasy realm that is visually stunning. It was not at all what I expected, especially the horror fantasy realm with animated spirit guides, out of body experiences and an apocalyptic horseman, all set amidst the burning rubble, dead bodies and overturned cars in downtown. Dedicated Metallica fans that follow lyrics, may recognize how certain plot scenes are cleverly intertwined with lyrical themes. In terms of songs, the set-list is extremely good, mostly old stuff and the stage show is pretty incredible, the set-design is very impressive with everything from smoking Master Of Puppets crosses to the crumbing Lady Justice to the set ‘breakdown’ back to Garage Days.
Metallica achieved something absolutely extraordinary with this film. I loved it. There is no way the DVD version do it justice, perhaps only a home theater with 3D glasses might do it justice. I’m glad I saw it. It is another triumph for Metallica. I'm glad it broke even and made a few extra million above and beyond production cost. If you get the chance to see it on the big-screen, go for it. You won’t be sorry.