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Movie makes Metallica bigger, badder and 3D-er

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013

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When bassist Robert Trujillo joined Metallica back in 2003, he remembers that "there was talk about doing something like this."

A decade later, "Metallica: Through the Never" is a reality.

The iconic heavy metal group's 3D film, opening Friday, Sept. 27 in IMAX and October 4 in general theaters, stars Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle," "Lawless," HBO's "In Treatment") as a crew member named Trip who's sent out on a special mission to for Metallica while the group plays a concert. Directed by Nimrod Antal ("Predators," "Armored"), "Metallica: Through the Never" blends vivid performance footage (filmed during August 2012 in Vancouver) with Trip's travels and violent travails -- which includes a riot and an encounter with at least one horseman of the Apocalypse -- for a project frontman James Hetfield acknowledges is "pretty complex. It's like three movies in one. There's a lot of different dynamics happening with this movie. It's pretty scary."

And, adds guitarist Kirk Hammett, it's hardly approached like a conventional film or music documentary

"There's not gonna be, like, footage of us backstage or interviews or anything," Hammett explains. "It's going to be strictly live footage and a storyline that weaves in and out of the film, and that's something we're all really excited about. It's really, really an intense sort of thing because it's storytelling, but there's no real dialogue."

Antal says that working with Metallica was "kind of a no-brainer." A fan of the band since he was young, the director was all ears when he was approached to do the film and welcomed the challenge when he was subsequently presented with the band's "incredibly strange concept."

"It felt like a completely original, different thing," the Los Angeles-born Antal, 39, recalls. "I'd never seen or heard of anything like it, so I was immediately intrigued." The director says his script was inspired by Paulo Coelho's 1988 novel "The Alchemist" as well as the Occupy movement that was raging across the U.S. while he was working on it. He also worked closely with the band before the concerts and says Metallica was willing to "manipulate" its set list to accommodate the script's needs.

"They've been super supportive," Antal says. "To work with the band is a big deal, but as artist they are completely aware of the artistic process, and they were very giving in that regard."

Hetfield, however, says the group was somewhat surprised by the expense involved in producing the project. "Every time we go and see it we tweak it here and there -- it's like putting a song together, only it's a little more expensive," he says with a laugh. Hetfield also says "Through the Never" has also impeded progress on Metallica's next album, the follow-up to 2008's "Death Magnetic."

"Yeah, this movie is keeping us pretty busy at this point, and it's taking a lot of our time and effort -- and touring," he explains. "We're trying to pay for this movie, so we're having to go make some money and we're going out and playing some more obscure places, and that's keeping us from getting in there and finishing a record. Hopefully we can break even with this and make it something that's historical and unique and become kind of a cult classic."

That's Trujillo's goal as well "I'm one of those guys back in the day that used to go see 'Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii' at 12 midnight at the local theater, the local movie house," he notes. "Or 'The Song Remains the Same,' y'know, 'Rust Never Sleeps,' Neil Young and Crazy Horse. So for us to do something similar, I think it's very exciting."

Metallica previewed parts of "Through The Never" at this year's Cannes Film Festival in France and at its Orion Music + More Festival during June on Belle Isle -- where the group played a surprise set under the name DeHaan as a nod to the movie's star. The group also attended this year's Comic-Con in San Diego for a panel discussion and performance to drum up support for the film and then premiered "Through the Never" at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

A soundtrack companion album came out this week, and the four Metallica members will be showing up at various theaters around the country to greet fans. And while the group is champing at the bit to finally get it out for fans to see, it's also is also braced for a polarized reaction to it.

"I think if I have learned anything it is to sort of stop the whole expecting thing," says drummer Lars Ulrich. "Trying to show control where things take you and how people perceive it, it's just a...lost cause.I understand that people are taken aback by the idea. I understand that people get taken aback by some of the things we do. I understand that people get taken aback by the result of some of the things that we do.

"But I just wish they would understand that they always start in the most innocent of places. I mean, what do they expect from us -- the same record every two years? I think we made it known a long time ago that that was not us, y'know?"

"Metallica: Through the Never" premiers in IMAX on Friday, Sept. 27, at the AMC Star Great Lakes in Auburn Hills, the AMC Livonia 20, the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights and the AMC Star Fairlane 21 in Dearborn. For showtimes and other details, visit www.throughthenevermovie.com. The film opens in regular theaters on Oct. 4.

Web Site: www.throughthenevermovie.com

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