Metallica: Through The Never (2013) BluRay Review

met1METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER – 2013

DIR: Nimrod Antal

STARRING: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, Robert Trujillo, Dane DeHaan

Blu – Ray

Out Now

 

No one can ever accuse Metallica of resting on their laurels. Their output over the last twenty plus years may have been erratic, but they have always pushed their own boundaries and defied expectation. So the announcement that they were making a feature film didn’t surprise me as much as it might have. With Through the Never they attempt to give the traditional concert film a new spin by adding a narrative to proceedings and framing the show as part of a wider story arc. It’s a brilliant idea in theory and offers scope for something truly exciting. At its best Metallica’s music is heavy, and thoroughly cinematic, so partnered with the right story this could truly have been something epic. However, in practice it is a bit of a mixed bag, not quite materialising as the cinematic fusion the band had probably hoped for.

Through the Never is the story of Trip; a young fan boy roadie who finds himself sent on an errand to collect something that the band need. He takes a strange pill and sets off on his journey. He soon finds himself at the centre of a riot and becomes embroiled in a surreal dystopian nightmare. In order to get back to the show he must face his fears and fight his way back through the violence. All the time this is happening Metallica perform a set of epic proportions; some of the events on stage mirroring Trips journey through the city.

It’s a great set up for something exciting and the early moments show some promise. As Metallica take to the stage it is immediately apparent that this isn’t a traditional concert film. Having a feature film maker’s eye and a feature film budget mean that the camera is allowed to go places it can’t normally go, so the concert footage is absolutely superb. Metallica have spared no expense on the stage show either which goes beyond spectacular.

met2 It moves smoothly into the story to start with as the camera swoops up through the crowd finding Trip shouting passionately along to ‘Creeping Death’. But once he leaves the arena the movie’s shortcomings become apparent. The problem is quite a simple one: Trip’s story isn’t particularly interesting and adds very little to proceedings. During the making of documentary one of the producers is adamant that this is not a concert film. She insists it is a narrative film with concert elements. She’s wrong; very wrong. Through the Never’s fundamental flaw is that it is a concert film with narrative elements meaning that the ‘story’ distracts from what is a truly amazing Metallica show.

But that isn’t to say it is a total failure. Whilst the story itself isn’t particularly engaging there are some nice visual flourishes. At around the half-way point the music and the movie start to sync up quite nicely and there are some cool moments as Trip sinks deeper and deeper into trouble. Metallica fans will love the way it matches up the now famous ‘Enter Sandman’ stage collapse with Trip’s actions outside the venue. Dane DeHaan (from the great Chronicle) deserves some credit as well. He manages to give Trip more personality than the script does and, in what is essentially a silent role, gives it an emotional centre that stops it from being totally pointless. Ultimately, the intentions here are noble, and there is a lot for fans to enjoy. There are sly nods to Metallica’s history peppered throughout and it is clear that director Nimrod Antal (Predators) knows and loves Metallica. As a story it wants to play as a tribute to the lengths fans will go to be a part of the Metallica experience, and Metallica clearly want it to be a bit of a love letter to their fans. But it isn’t quite brave enough to go the whole distance and is a little afraid of its own ambition.

The disc itself is a must buy for fans. You get the Blu-Ray and the 3D Blu-Ray in one for a decent price. Not being much of a fan of 3D I have only watched the 2D version but can honestly say I don’t think 3D would change the experience at all. The image quality is absolutely top drawer, and is one of the nicest looking Blu-Rays I have ever seen. As for special features, there are interviews and festival panel videos as well as trailers and ‘Master of Puppets’ uninterrupted as a live music video. But by far the best reason to buy this is a making of documentary that, in true Metallica style, doesn’t pull any punches.

met3Anyone who has seen the ‘Some Kind of Monster’ documentary will be aware of how candid Metallica can be, and this making of goes beyond the usual overblown sales pitch. Metallica allow every part of the process a look in, and it is particularly interesting to see producers argue over the budget. Financially Metallica have made a loss on this as it died a quick death at the box office, and it is fascinating to see how everything unfolded in the films pre-production, especially when the band are constantly pushing for bigger and crazier things. What is a shame is that there is no option to watch the concert without the film elements, especially as the shows were longer than the film would allow.

In the end Metallica fans are going to want this. It’s a good package and is a genuine curiosity for those that love the band. Whether or not you feel Metallica are being overly self- indulgent, or that they are just trying to push the envelope a little more this is something a bit different for the committed fan.

FILM 7/10

EXTRAS 8/10

Jason X (2002) Review

Jason-X-Movie-Poster

Jason X (2002) Review:

Original Release date: (International,  April 26 2002)

Directed by: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Peter Mensah

Available now on DVD from New Line Cinema

Jason X shouldn’t exist.  It’s the kind of super sequel that you could imagine a group of Hollywood screen writers all sat around planning, deciding what to do with an aging franchise. There’s the obligatory reboot, perhaps a prequel, and then eventually one bored writer would pipe up with an idea like “Hey, let’s set  it in space!” , before laughing and going back to the drawing board. Fortunately for horror fans however this last part never happened.

From its initial premise all the way through until the credits roll Jason X feels like a joke that got out of hand, like a few filmmakers seeing how far they could take the punch line before a producer somewhere stopped them. What makes Jason X such a hugely fun and special film is that those filmmakers were never stopped; they were allowed to produce what can only be described as a film that is simultaneously one of the best, and worst slasher movies of the last decade. It’s a film that showcases just how enjoyable and utterly ridiculous the slasher genre can let itself become.

Jason X shouldn’t exist, but we’re lucky it does.

Opening in the ‘near future’ of 2008, everyone’s favourite hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees ( a welcome return for legend Kane Hodder) has found himself captured by the American Military who are performing experiments on the giant to reveal the secret behind his apparent immortality. After almost escaping from the brilliantly named ‘Crystal Lake Research Facility’ Jason is placed into a cryogenic sleep by plucky scientist Rowan Lafontaine (Doig) who finds herself frozen along with him.  Cut to the year 2455 and Jason and Lafontaine are discovered by an archaeology team exploring the now polluted and destroyed earth.

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To cover much more of the narrative would spoil a large part of the fun of Jason X, not only because there isn’t much more plot on offer but because watching the tale of Nano machines, robots and dismemberment unfold is ridiculously good fun.  Half of what makes Jason X so enjoyable is watching in twisted pleasure at just how ridiculous the film makers are willing to make the entire experience. Luckily however the lunacy is delivered with enough skill and clear love for the source material that Jason X is heightened to the status of ‘cult classic’ and not ‘shameless cash-in’. It’s not going to win any awards, it’s not particularly well written or even well-acted but Jason X is earnest enough to get away with being a “bad movie” because it’s such a fun experience.

There were a few times during my 90 minute love affair with Jason X that I felt a massive Joss Whedon (of Buffy the vampire Slayer and more recently Avengers Assemble fame)  vibe. There’s a kind of lighthearted approach to the film that makes it all the more enjoyable, like the filmmakers are in on the joke too so it’s okay to laugh without feeling too bad.
The plot manages to nod at Sci Fi favourites such as ‘The Matrix’  and ‘Aliens’  while delivering a number of brilliantly brutal kill scenes, the staple of any great slasher . In fact the now infamous ‘frozen head’ kill in Jason X is one of my personal favourites in all of horror cinema.  The whole film is packed with enough blood and guts to satisfy all but the most sadistic of gore hounds, and the Sci Fi setting is a breath of fresh air in a genre packed with deserted schools and murky swamps.

I can’t stress enough just how much of a treat Jason X is. It may be a cheesy treat that is pretty bad for your health, but that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable, and it owes a lot of its guilty pleasure factor to its Sci Fi setting.
While it may get a lot right, there are some elements of Jason X that seem out of place in a cinematic release.  Although the film had a proper studio budget the whole thing has this kind of low visual quality which makes Jason X look more like a particularly gory episode of Farscape than a full blown movie.  This isn’t a major issue, and indeed a lot of the cinematography and special effects are perfectly serviceable for most of the movie , it just a shame that some parts of Jason X look more like a porno than a slasher flick.  It’s simply a film stock quality issue however and in a way it just adds to the films’ campy, B movie charm.

Along with the questionable cinematography Jason X suffers from some pretty awful performances, outside of the core cast most of the actors seem like their either phoning it in or are so inexperienced they shouldn’t be in front of a camera. Of course this isn’t a huge issue when most of these people are going to be brutally assaulted by a now ‘hi-tech’ Jason Voorhees but for the few scenes where these people are trying to portray real emotions or deliver dialogue, it’s all very cringe worthy.

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It’s hard to be too tough on Jason X. I love the film for what it is, a silly and completely brainless slasher flick that’s doing its best to cater to fans of the franchise. The negative elements of the film like the bad acting, laughable set design and low fi visuals are what I want out of a film like Jason X.  They all combine together to make a film that feels like a true B movie slasher, the kind that was pioneered by the Friday the 13th franchise.  It was for that reason that I felt right at home with the shameless entertainment that is Jason X .What’s amazing about the film is that even though it was filmed in a new millennium it stands side by side with the other Friday the 13th movies, if this is a good thing or not depends purely on your tastes as a horror fan.

We’ve seen the character in his ‘gritty remake’ and it just felt soulless.  Jason X gives Voorhees his big, bloody and bombastic send-off (the ending of the film is truly a sight to behold) that will please diehard fans and series newcomers alike, I loved Jason X when I first watched it and  ten years on it’s still able to put a smile on my face.

8/10