My review of “Metallica Through the Never” at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

The highly-anticipated gala World Premiere of Metallica Through the Never took place at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 9, 2013. The IMAX 3D screening was held at the Scotiabank Theatre. It was featured as a one-time only Special Event.

This unique presentation of a Metallica concert interspersed with a scripted narrative is a delightful hybrid that plays more like a 90 minute concept video than a live concert performance.

Writer/director Nimród Antal burst onto the scene in 2003 with Kontroll, a multi award-winning feature out of Hungary. He was enlisted by the members of Metallica to direct this spectacular production, scripted by Antal along with band members Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, and Robert Trujillo. Producer Charlotte Huggins has orchestrated some of the most acclaimed 3D projects in cinema, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and its sequel. Her presence ensured a state-of-the-art experience.  

The concert portion of the picture features a live performance by the band, replete with the Metallica hits you know as well as newer material. Over 30 years of experience has contributed to a new stage production, created for this project, that’s among the best in the rock world. Incorporating crowd-pleasing elements of past Metallica tours, the stage is surrounded by lasers, flames, and massive hydraulic set pieces that rise and fall. Giant statues are assembled and then crumble as the band plays on. The thrilling live show itself contains its own narrative, making this movie a multi-layered spectacular that’s a feast for the eyes and ears.

The mind-boggling cinematography was led by Gyula Pados, who shot Kontroll for Antal. Filmed in the round, there was no way to hide the cameras placed strategically amidst the audience and the filmmakers made no attempt to do so. Most of the production is seen from the band’s point of view. The shots amount to an orgy of jibs, flying cranes, and Skycams, a marvelous site in itself, with steadicam operators scurrying around the stage to capture the musicians’ most intricate movements. Up to 24 cameras were in use at any given time. Five separate shows were combined to create what appears to be one concert performance. It’s clear from their positions and reverse angles that the images were pieced together from more than one show, yet the live vocals are seamlessly integrated into the action as if captured live in one take. It's a phenomenal achievement.                  

Holding the jaw-dropping concert footage together, while incorporating the scripted scenes, was a technical marvel. Credit goes to veteran Oscar-winning editor Joe Hutshing, who took home statuettes for Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and JFK (1991). A favorite of Oliver Stone and Cameron Crowe, he cut some of the most honored films of the past 20 years, including Talk Radio, The Doors, Indecent Proposal, Jerry Maguire, Meet Joe Black, Being John Malkovich, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Something’s Gotta Give, The Skeleton Key, W., It’s Complicated, We Bought a Zoo, and Savages.       

As the star of the narrative portion of the movie, Dane DeHaan (The Place Beyond the Pines, Kill Your Darlings) plays Trip, a young roadie on a mission through the city to fetch a mysterious item. With virtually no dialogue, it was essential for DeHaan’s expressive eyes and face to say more than words ever could. He was an ideal choice. These segments take place in a post-apocalyptic world filled with fire and brimstone, rioters and police, and mythical creatures. The stunts and awe-inspiring visual effects at the heart of these sequences are worth the price of admission alone, even for those unfamiliar with the band’s music. One of the challenges of Metallica Through the Never is in discovering the connections between Trip’s story and the lyrics of the songs as each merges into the next plot piece. It’s a clever device and one which grows more effective and satisfying as the experience rolls on.  

All that said, in general, rock films are recommended more to those familiar with the artists and their music. While it may have broad appeal, there are certainly those for whom such a movie would not hold much interest. But as the most played artist on rock radio and fourth largest selling artist in the United States for over a decade, including the top selling album of the past 20 years, it’s more than likely you’ve heard these songs. It goes without saying that for fans of Metallica it's a must-see.


NOTE: I selected Metallica Through the Never for my Toronto International Film Festival Top Picks. Picturehouse is distributing the film theatrically in the US. Canadian distribution is being handled by Entertainment One. Metallica Through the Never was released on September 27 and will expand into additional markets this coming weekend, including over 300 IMAX 3D locations. 

Metallica Through the Never - Official Theatrical Trailer [HD]

IMAX 3D 9/27/13 Theatres Everywhere 10/4/13 Advance Tickets Available Now at & Visit…
  • Video Release: July 21, 2013
  • Length: 1.95 min
  • Views: 2317490


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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