The concert part of the film is obvious. It's Metallica, one of the biggest (and globally recognised) names in heavy music. I still haven't seen them live, but seeing them do their thing on the cinema screen in 3D was just incredible. I can only imagine what this would've been like on an IMAX screen.
The narrative part of the film is centred on Trip, a junior roadie. He is played by Dane DeHaan, one of the three young leads (the one who went the full Magneto) from 2012's found-footage science-fiction movie "Chronicle" (see #6 on this list). With extremely little dialogue in this film, he plays his part (such as it is) rather well, I thought.
This is all in the first five minutes. Then the concert gets underway, with the band's traditional entrance music - Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold".
If it was only a concert film, in 3D, I'd be tempted to give this 9, if not 10, stars. Yes, I'm biased. I have a few Metallica concert DVDs and Blu-rays on my shelves. In addition to the great songs, there's great camera work, and stage effects. As a filmed performance of live music, it is incredible. Experiencing Metallica through surround cinema speakers was fantastic.
The narrative is where I felt let down - I was left wanting so much more. One song into the show, Trip is sent on a mission to retrieve something from a broken-down truck. Something the band needs. We never find out what it is. This worked in Pulp Fiction. Less so in Ronin. Not at all here, although I have read some interesting theories online already. The trouble is, the city is in some sort of turmoil. The streets are absolutely deserted, on an "Omega Man", "28 Days Later" level - is everyone in the city at the concert? Turn a corner, and suddenly we have angry mobs, molotov cocktails, and police in full riot gear.
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Stay during the credits for the band performing the instrumental "Orion". Using various split-screen effects (and multi-camera angles), both band and credits share the screen during this closing track.
There are some moments where the music is matched nicely with the visuals outside the arena. The riot police beat their shields in time with an instrumental section of "Wherever I May Roam", which is followed by a full-on riot intercut with the band playing "Cyanide".
But there wasn't enough of this music-to-plot linking for my taste. There were times where the narrative distracted me, and I wanted the cameras to just get back to the concert. Then there were other times where I got a teaser of action, and wanted more, but was treated instead to extended concert footage as I was left wondering what was happening outside in the "riot world". In its ambitious attempt to be both a concert film and a narrative, it fell a little short.
While I appreciate what I think Metallica and Antal were going for here, I was still a little disappointed. (That being said, it's far less disappointing than their previous "arty" foray, the "Lulu" project with Lou Reed.)
Is it worth seeing during its limited release? If you like music (and Metallica in particular), probably. It's an awesome concert experience - you'll see (and hear) a great band at the top of their game.
As a purely narrative movie intercut with songs, it's barely a 6... but the music really does rescue it, and I'm going to give it 7 out of 10.