Friday, October 4, 2013


THROUGH THE NEVER is the first theatrical concert film by the famed heavy metal group Metallica. But it wasn’t quite enough for the storied rockers to just film a show; it had to tell a story, it had to be in glorious 3D, and it needed to be more of an experience than a movie. So how did they do?
A young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent out to recover an important item for the band Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo) as they play a show in a sold out arena. While on his mission, Trip encounters a bizarre set of happenings, which includes lightning, a puppet, and a masked hammer-wielding horseman.

Much like the song the film is named after, THROUGH THE NEVER is a twisting and turning look at a Metallica concert intercut with Trip’s adventures out in a surreal, gone-to-hell city. As the action (seamlessly)  cuts from inside the arena to the street, the storyline never forgets that this is a concert film first and foremost. The music never stops playing when we visit the street, and director Nimrod Antal uses the performance as a soundtrack to the adventures. Antal draws some clever parallels to the concert and the deadly adventure, and the two blend together perfectly. Fans of the band’s music over the past 30 years will probably get more out of it than any newcomers, but a fan of the cinema could easily get caught up in the atmosphere.
Nimrod Antal makes excellent use of the 3D format, and he has a lot of help courtesy of Metallica’s unique and visually stunning stage set-up. The band performs on a 360-degree stage surrounded by the crowd, and Antal’s cameras swoop and pan around and don’t miss an inch of the arena. The camera also drops us right onto center-stage right next to the band members, and the 3D reveals an incredible sense of depth and realism. The floor of the stage is essentially a giant LED screen, and there some down-angle shots in here that simply have to be seen to be believed. Back out on the street, Antal pulls off some remarkable imagery and keeps the pacing brisk with about a zillion surprises around every corner. THROUGH THE NEVER never suffers from any typical 3D issues; there is no dimness and every frame is presented in a glorious clarity.

Again, it’s all about the music and the band has never sounded better in a captured format. Every crunch of a note and rumble of the bowel-loosening low-end bass is crystal clear and literally rattles the seats. The sound is 100% immersive, and daresay the band actually sounds better in the digital format than out in the open air.  
Dane DeHaan does a great job, even though he only has one or two words to speak in the entire film. The action out on the street is dialogue-free, and DeHaan has to do all acting with facial expression and body language, and he nails every move.

The finale is exhilarating and the mystery around the object Trip was sent out to recover takes us right through the credits; in which the band is shown intimately jamming on an instrumental in an emptied arena. By the time the hum of amps fade, you do feel that you have been heavily assaulted both sonically and visually, making THROUGH THE NEVER an experience to remember beyond a simple movie. This film may have been built for long-time, or even casual Metallica fans, but anyone can appreciate a perfect marriage of sights and sound.


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