TIFF 2013 Review: Metallica Through the Never

Metallica Through the Never Dane DeHaan

Metallica Through the Never fucking rocks! What else did you expect? It’s a kick ass Metallica concert at the very least, and the interweaving story is both unobtrusive and ambiguously significant. Not that I’m a die-hard Metallica fan. I know the hits and I can recognize the Metallica sound when I hear a song. A middle school friend of mine became a headbanger so I knew them tangentially. I know Metallica most from Beavis and Butt-Head’s obsession with them. The Guitar Hero and Rock Band games familiarized me with the intricacies of their better known songs, so as a casual Metallica fan, I thought it was an awesome show.

Metallica plays a concert and director Nimrod Antal presents it in Imax and/or Atmos sound (I believe it’s “or”; I understand Imax and Atmos are incompatible). Their roadie (Dane DeHaan) gets sent to retrieve something important from a stalled truck in the city. That’s literally all it is. Something important, and of course that’s not all that happens outside the stadium. It’s really just an excuse to get him on the road.

The story is almost a silent film, a visual adventure that’s clear from the action, though surreal enough that it could really be anything. There is sound, mainly sound effects but very little dialogue. I ultimately wasn’t that into the story but I love that it could be minimal or it could be anything. Either watch the concert and tune out the story, or follow the story and the music is just background. The sound effects harmonize with the music and the music drives the story, thematically and in its pace.

Metallica Through the Never Lars Ulrich

INTERVIEW: Nimrod Antal and producer Charlotte Huggins describe their unusual approach to Metallica Through the Never.

In the concert I really appreciate what magnetic performers Metallica are. They seem to focus on the music, rather than on stage antics, but they have some innovative staging around them. The pyrotechnics on stage are really innovative, not just fireworks. Maybe Metallica fans are used to this, but I was impressed. The sound is just energetic, it doesn’t need any help.

The Imax frame is 2.35:1 so it’s disappointing that it’s not fully open. My depth perception may be a little off by day 5, and I literally had 90 minutes of sleep the day I saw Metallica, but I didn’t notice any depth at all. There was one part where an audience member’s hand blocked the band and that disconcerted me for a second, making me feel like I was at a live show and had to look around the folks in front.

I actually forgot I was watching a movie at some points and wanted to applaud in between songs. Granted, that was the 90 minutes of sleep and day five of the festival taking its toll, but still an accomplishment that it triggered my instincts for live performances. 


Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.