Nimrod Antal embraces Metallica’s chaos

"I have a drum brothers"

Two days ago I was wondering what Nimrod Antal was up to lately. I checked up IMDB and saw his forthcoming film was… a Metallica fiction?! Then my good pal Dave asked If I cared to join him for a press screening. Hell yeah! 

I’m a diehard Leonard Cohen fellow. A Springsteen addict. A Townes Van Zandt believer. And not a very big fan of Metallica‘s music, or any heavy metal band for that matter. But gosh I love rock’n’roll. And I dig some of the shots Nimrod Antal put in his prior Psycho hommage, Vacancy. There was a sense of the night there, like he managed to embrace it on film, and I wondered if it was an accident or a strength. After experiencing Metallica: Through The Never last night, I can say it’s definitely a feat.

This concert film was co-written and produced by the band themselves, probably to redeem their image from the dirty laundry shown in the previous Some kind of monster doc. So it’s basically an over the top production for the worldwide & longtime fans.

The concert takes place in a stadium, across a gigantic stage, and is entirely shot in 3D. Intermingled with the anger fueled songs, is the fictionnal journey of one roadie, Trip. And that’s where the film switches to fantasy. Sent on an errand outside the stadium to retrieve a specific item for the band, Trip finds himself in a desolated midtown. All hell breaks loose when a riot opposes gang members and the police force. Amidst the chaos emerges a sadistic figure of pure evil, who addresses Trip and sends his minions after him. Portrayed by the Chronicle main lead Dane DeHaan, Trip showcases some of the same videogame powers, to infamous results.

There's a riot going on.

Although Predators recouped its budget, it was not a groundbreaking success on both commercial and artistic levels. So it looked like Nimrod Antal was available and submitted himself as the director for this project. Altogether with the band, they staged a unique venue for three nights in a row. The final cut benefits from multiple angles, carefully edited from 60 hours worth of rushes, sporting a”you’re on stage with them” fashion. It feels like you’re running around them on stage, and for the most part, the editing was great, giving a great sense of presence and immersion. I have never experienced that closenessness before, at least regarding music in a film.

The balance between the concert bits and Trip’s journey is mostly clunky though. There’s not much dialog to chew our fiction needs, and the audience must sit through entire songs to know if the guy is gonna piss himself or what. Regarding the purpose of Trip’s journey, it falls flat, something the film echoes itself with a final nod to the audience. “Hey, we did’nt want to remake Casablanca folks, we just wanted to put on an awesome sound & visual show”.

James looks very cross.

The overall imagery, borrowing from some of the 90’s heavy metal lore, is conveyed in a beautiful, captivating and effortlessly flair. Drenched in dark blue tones and some other layers of gray, black, glass and orange tints, this dark tale of the night exhales a very sensory vibe. It makes up for a great sound and visual experience,  the result providing a mood that is quite powerful.

In the end, Through the never, in spite of its own shortcomings, very well may set a new bar for concert films. If you’re not a heavy metal fan, you may find it tiresome. But if you’re addicted to Metallica, or highly interested in rock films, or even intrigued by Antal‘s qualities as a director, this is recommended viewing.

Nothing Else Matters
TheNightShift / 20.09.2013

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