The 10 Most Spinal Tap Moments From Metallica: Through the Never
Over the weekend, Metallica: Through the Never opened in theaters nationwide. As a longtime fan of the planet's favorite heavy-metal band, I wasn't going to miss it. Not only because I love Metallica's music (the good stuff, anyway), but because I'm also a fan of hilariously overblown visual spectacle.
Spinal Tap, or Metallica?
Which is pretty much exactly what Through the Never was touted to be: a 3D IMAX spectacular taking us on a laser-studded journey through all the biggest hits. The flick isn't Metallica's first foray into Hollywood; in fact, it's something of a corrective. In 2004, their uncomfortably intimate reality-show drama Some Kind of Monster found the band essentially remaking This is Spinal Tap without the (intentional) laughs. Showcasing Metallica at its lowest point, that movie managed to effectively tear down the band's invincible rock-star image and cast them as all-too-human, all-too-lame middle-aged men with issues. It sucked.
The task of Through the Never is to restore the myth, and the movie pulls out all the stops to get us there. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, it goes a bit overboard at (most) times. Maybe the specter of Spinal Tap is simply too perfectly applicable to this band to be escaped. In any case, it was all I could think about during the screening I attended.
Because Lord knows you're too cool to buy a ticket, here are the Top 10 Spinal Tap moments from the film for you to laugh at:
10. The Needless Side Mission
In the funniest and most crucial bad decision associated with the making of Through the Never, director Nimród Antal decided that what a Metallica concert film really needed was a pointless narrative involving a functionally nameless roadies descending into a post-apocalyptic hell in order to retrieve some unnecessary McGuffin. Actor Dane DeHaan's character certainly proves his dedication to the band, braving a police riot, self-immolation and even a gas-masked, hammer-wielding doom rider in order to do his masters' bidding. Pity the poor fool, since he's missing the biggest and most elaborate Metallica concert of all time to complete his task.
And so are we, every time the action switches to DeHaan's mission. We've seen enough post-apocalyptic suicide missions in cinemas of late. That is decidedly not what we want to see in a Metallica concert film. Even Spinal Tap knew that its stars were in the band. More lasers, instead, please.
9. Gigantic, Malfunctioning Props
Metallica is one of the biggest bands in the world. In some places, maybe the biggest. To emphasize the group's titanic, globe-spanning largeness, Through the Never finds them trotting out massive, electronic stage props that put Spinal Tap's giant, horned skull to shame. Lord knows I wasn't the only one waiting for a Stonehenge triptych to descend from the rafters.
LED tombstones. An exploding Justice statue. An enormous Tesla-coiled electric chair and more flaming cyclones than a National Park wildfire. All these and more serve as the spectacular set dressing for what the filmmakers claim is the largest indoor stage ever constructed. The fact that these props are made to seem constantly in danger of crushing our metallic heroes might've felt more like a commentary on the business of international rock tours if the band wasn't portrayed consistently as invincible demigods, carving their names into history with lightning.
Did the filmmakers have Spinal Tap in mind when they staged equipment malfunctions? If they didn't, they really fucking should have.
8. The Ridiculous Fake "Accident"
No one knows better than Metallica how dangerous onstage pyrotechnics can be. Front man James Hetfield was burned nearly to a crisp in '92 when he stepped into one of the band's flashpots in Montreal. That's why it was impossible not to laugh out loud when the filmmakers orchestrated a transparently fake "accident" onstage that culminated in falling equipment, stretchers and a roadie engulfed in flames.
It's not the first time Metallica has attempted to entertain with silly Hollywood stunts framed onstage as "accidents." But it wasn't any less corny in 3D. There's simply no disguising the fact that Metallica shows are a well-oiled machine with virtually no spontaneity. Any hints to the contrary can only be played for laughs.
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