Metallica: Through the Never

Covering more than three decades of Metallica history, “Metallica: Through the Never” delivers a spectacular spectacle, likely to please fans as a near-definitive document of the legendary cult band.

World-premiering at the Toronto Film Fest, the film is released theatrically by Picturehouse Entertainment on October 4, after limited showings in major cities on September 27.

It is useful to contrast this docu with “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” of 2004, a rare rock documentary, which focused on inner tensions that almost led to the group’s dissolution.

“Metallica Through the Never” does not deal with interpersonal relationships, instead focusing on the unique music and the performances, showcasing hit tunes spanning over three decades

What gets in the way of enjoying this 3D (Imax) extravaganza is the weak (often silly) text, interspersed randomly and arbitrarily between the numbers.

Numerous cameras have been placed to capture the dynamic energies of the band during their 2012 touring concert. The footage is assembled from shows (designed by John Mark Fisher) given over five nights in 2012 in Vancouver and Edmonton.

Artistically ambitious, the docu weaves elements from Metallica lore of yesteryear, resulting in a richly decorated spectacle, marked by lasers and flames that seem to rise from below the stage.

There is some truly astounding concert footage, shot on an elaborate stage that incorporates elements from the band’s previous blockbuster tours. Watching the stage alone—its size, video equipment, props–is worthy of your seeing the film.

The four legendary musicians render effortless performances, appearing to be unfazed by the showmanship. We get the impression of vet pros who have done it many time before and thus know how to entertain—and manipulate their audiences reactions. Among the highlights are “Hit the Lights,” from their 1983 debut album “Kill ‘Em All.”

The Hungarian director Nimrod Antal (who made the great art film “Kontroll” and then the mediocre American thrillers “Vacancy” and “Predators”) is savvy and shrewd: He knows that the target public consists of music aficionados, who don’t care so much about narrative logic or in-depth characterization.

The young actor Dane DeHaan plays a tour gofer, sent to a mysterious mission to a deserted city. After a car crash, he watches some anarchic hoodlums attacking the police, and then turn on each other. We could not care less that no reason or motivation for the action are given.

The snippets of the story are just fillers of time in between the music numbers, inserted in order to give the work the semblance of a feature docu, rather than a chronicle of a legendary musical and historically significant band.