[Screen It]


(2013) (Metallica, Dane DeHaan) (R)

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Concert Film/Drama: As the band Metallica performs a concert, one of their gofers encounters near apocalyptic dangers as he travels across the city to find and return a duffel bag to the band.
As the heavy metal rock band Metallica -- comprised of lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and base player Robert Trujillo -- takes the stage for a concert, one of their gofers, Trip (DANE DeHAAN), is sent off in a beat-up van to find and return a duffel bag to the band.

After experiencing some odd occurrences, Trip ends up on foot after a car t-bones and flips his van. From that point on, he must contend with rioting and a gas mask wearing figure on horseback who seems determined to kill him, all while Trip tries to get the bag and the band continues playing in their concert venue.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Much to the chagrin, I'm sure, of my parents, I started listening to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath somewhere around second or third grade and while those bands were in their heyday of the early 1970s. I had an older cousin who would stop by with his family on their way to North Carolina's Outer Banks and for reasons not particularly clear, he'd bring his records with him and drop them off for me to hear.

Perhaps that was the thing to do at the time. Whatever the case and for whatever reason, my parents allowed me to listen to "Paranoid," "War Pigs," "Iron Man," "Hush," and, of course, "Smoke on the Water" to the point that I'm sure my stay at home mom became all too familiar with the lyrics and driving beat. Of course, some of what heavy metal rock eventually evolved into years later made my introductory songs sound like pop music in comparison. Even so, I still have some appreciation for the genre and occasionally find some songs to like among what's otherwise just a lot of similar sounding noise.

Case in point is the "thrash metal" band Metallica. While the vast majority of their songs blend together in a loud cacophony of blaring guitars and James Hetfield's growly scream vocals, I really like their most recognized hit, "Enter Sandman." In fact, there's a version I've heard on Pandora that has what sounds like an orchestral accompaniment (or at least a prerecorded variation of the same) that provides some creepy, scary movie music to the mix, all of which adds to the songs' lyrics and theme.

Thus, when I heard there was a new concert film, "Metallica: Through the Never," featuring the band as well as an added plot featuring a fictitious character experiencing weird and maybe even supernatural occurrences, I figured they might be going for more of the same and perhaps could pull off a cool cross-genre combo offering. Alas, what the band and writer/director Nimród Antal ("Predators," "Armored") have delivered might have sounded cool or interesting on paper, but ultimately fails as a piece of cinematic spectacle.

All of which is too bad since I really liked the 2004 documentary "Some Kind of Monster" that featured a backstage view of the band going through various woes while trying to put out a new album. The amazing thing about that film was that you didn't need to be a fan or even be aware of Metallica and their music to be mesmerized by and enjoy the offering that I likened to nearly coming off like "This is Spinal Tap 2."

Rather than delving into the psyche of the band and its members, Antal simply shows them performing at a sold out concert, in all the visual glory and ear-splitting might that an IMAX 3D film can provide. Not only will your ears ring afterwards, but you'll feel like you've been on stage with the four fellas, what with the extreme close-ups and clarity of the footage. If you're a fan of the band, you'll be in heavy metal hog heaven. For yours truly, that part of the film (which comprises the vast majority of the 90-some minute runtime) was okay, but doesn't even come close to what U2 offered in "U2 3D" a few years back that nearly came off as a religious experience for many a viewer.

For reasons not entirely clear and certainly not remotely successful, all involved thought it would be a good idea to throw a meager fictitious plot into the proceedings. Those brief interludes feature Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle," HBO's "In Treatment") as the band's gofer who's sent off into the city to find and return a specific bag to them. We don't know why and it's never revealed what's in it (the last shot of the film shows the bag as if the reveal is going to occur, but it doesn't).

Along the way, and after popping some unknown pill, he encounters odd things as the city seemingly falls into the panic and throes of some sort of apocalyptic occurrence. Protestors or rebels arrive, clash with police, and a gas mask wearing figure atop a partially armored horse decides he wants to terrorize, chase and presumably kill the young man. Some of what occurs during such moments occasionally seem to indirectly affect the band onstage, but beyond that there's no literal connection, although I'm assuming there is some sort of thematic connection.

Granted, had I been able to understand the blaring lyrics (or had already been familiar with them), such ties might have made sense. I couldn't, my ears hurt and I quickly became increasingly bored with the entire offering. If you're big into Metallica, you could very well likely eat this up. For the casual viewer who might have gotten a kick out of watching them in "Some Kind of Monster," this comes off more like "Some Kind of Nothing." I guess I'd recommend "Metallica: Through the Never" for the fans, but for everyone else it rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed September 18, 2013 / Posted September 27, 2013

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