Last week I went to an arts cinema to see a film (The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology) made by the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek who makes the connection between the dream-like fantasies created by Hollywood films and the construction of ideologies. This week, on the other side of town, I went to see a film made by the Hungarian director Nimrod Antal. This film was at the IMAX cinema and it was Metallica: Through the Never in 3D. This second film takes on a lofty theme too, making a connection between heavy rock and the destruction of ‘forces of anarchy’. It also goes some way to support Zizek’s hypothesis as it was a great example of myth making.
In terms of the presentation of the film itself, the idea of a huge James Hetfield looming down on you in 3D may or may not appeal, but a major selling point of the film is that it offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with the whole band whilst they perform on stage.
Metallica: Through the Never gets you closer to the band during a live show than could ever be offered by simply being at a performance. Hearing the show in an IMAX cinema is where this film is worth its ticket price as the experience combines the visceral appeal of the live show with the crystal clear clarity of super-expensive speakers. Sadly though, the 3D seemed ‘off’ at times and quick pans across the stage were dizzying and acted to push the audience out of the fantasy of the film, as did the lack of cohesion at times in the focus within the 3D. Getting ‘on the stage’ and being ‘with’ the band members was however an exhilarating experience and offered something unique. Not so successful was the occasional point of view from the audience where our view was interrupted by the waving arms of the crowd in front. This offered nothing new and, yet again, took us out of the fantasy of the 3D experience.
This is a gig film with several USPs – not only is it getting us on stage in 3D and providing hi-fidelity surround sound, but it also includes a semi-narrative film within the gig-movie format. This stars Dane De Haan (who was in the exceptionally well worth a watch superhero film with a difference, Chronicle). The narrative was intercut with the performance footage and was simple and well constructed. It was deliberately surreal, avoided logical explanations for the events shown and added not much other than an uneasy feeling that Metallica are a pretty right-wing, reactionary bunch. De Haan is extremely charismatic on screen and Metallica make an awesome noise. Putting the two together though didn’t seem to add much to either. A Metallica gig movie on an IMAX screen really would have been spectacle enough. Great music but perhaps Through the Never went one or two gimmicks too far.