Metallica Through the Never (2013)

Twisting, Turning, Through the Never.

Metallica Through the Never (2013)The story of wanting to see today’s movie was simple.  I wanted to see it because it was Metallica.  Metallica is my favorite band, and I’m probably going to want to see anything they’re involved with.  But I wanted to see this movie while it was still in theaters, and I probably wouldn’t have felt it necessary to get to the theaters to see a simple concert movie.  I have some of those on DVD already.  This movie seemed different.  But was it?  We’ll find out as I review Metallica Through the Never, written and directed by Nimród Antal, co-written and starring James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, and Lars Ulrich, and starring Dane DeHaan.

Metallica – singer and rhythm guitar James Hetfield, lead guitar Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo, and drummer Lars Ulrich – are putting on a concert.  A stagehand named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is tasked with taking a can of fuel to a truck that was transporting something for the band and ran out of gas.  He sets out on his journey as the concert gets underway.  As Metallica plays, Trip finds that the world outside the concert hall has fallen into chaos.  Trip gets caught in the middle of riots and murders, all over a duffel bag with unknown contents.  And even worse than the riots and murders, he’s missing the Metallica concert!

I suppose I could say that I was a little disappointed by this movie, but I don’t regret buying it at all.  This movie originally interested me because it looked like it was half concert movie and half narrative, as if it was a concert movie interwoven with an interesting narrative story that coincided with the songs they were playing.  That is kind of what the movie turned out to be, but it was really more like series of really similar music videos.  There just wasn’t much of a story.  The kid shows up, he gets sent out on a quest, the apocalypse happens, he gets the bag, he returns.  I don’t know how much more I was expecting out of the story of the movie, but I guess I would concede that it’s really not required for this movie.  Though I thought it was an interesting concept, I imagine my interaction with the movie would have been no different.  It’s still a Metallica concert movie, so I probably still would have bought it.  And if they did have more story, I might have been embittered anyway.  I found myself a little annoyed in the beginning of the movie that they kept interrupting a great Metallica concert with the stupid kid from Chronicle.  So I guess what I’m saying is that the story of this movie couldn’t possibly win with me.  There wasn’t enough of it but it would go away.  And what little story they had was a little weird.  First of all, I didn’t think there was any reason to go supernatural with the whole thing.  The movie ends with a showdown between Trip and the rider that has stalked him for most of the movie, but instead of defeating him in a fight, he smashes the ground with a hammer, destroying most of the city around and making the rider shatter like glass as he charges.  And then there’s that weird little creepy toy Trip took around with him.  I don’t know what that was there for.  And then there was the duffel bag.  When they didn’t show us its contents immediately, I knew that there were three options that were equally as likely: either it would be some deus ex machina thing that would fix all the apocalypse problems somehow, it would never be revealed Pulp Fiction-style, or it would be James Hetfield’s teddy bear.  They kind of did two of these.  They never showed us what was in the bag, but the supernatural saved the day through Trip anyway.  Even so, there are few movies that can force a physical reaction on me, let alone making me air guitar and fist pump devil horns in the air.  I’m just pretty sure it didn’t have much to do with the narrative story.

The other stuff in this movie is a Metallica concert.  It’s a concert that I feel like I’ve mostly seen before because I’ve seen them live and I’ve watched their Cunning Stunts DVD.  It’s roughly the same setup as that concert was, except this time the crumbling of the stuff on stage is caused by a dude named Trip hitting a parking structure with a hammer 2 miles away.  What makes this particular concert stand out is that it is spectacularly filmed.  They added a bunch of new set pieces to the concert and filmed it in high definition, 3D, and in IMAX.  “One” starts with a cool laser effect to accompany the bullet sounds that start the song, they have a giant “stone” statue that crumbles along with “And Justice For All,” crosses rise up from the stage for “Master of Puppets,” coffins lower from the ceiling with images of people struggling projected on them, and “Ride the Lightning” is accompanied by giant Tesla coils firing lightning bolts into an electric chair.  It was awesome!  As was the music, but I expected that.  Not only do I own every Metallica album, but I’ve heard and seen them live several times and I know that their CD’s don’t do them justice.  The only disappointment with the concert side of the movie was the fact that there were no titties to be found!  How did that happen?  Female Metallica fans love to show their tits at concerts!  They’re not always boobs that you’d want to see, but they’ll make you look at them for sure.

It’s a little difficult to talk about the acting in this movie because there was only one actor in the main cast.  The band only had a few moments where they had to act a little, but even most of that wasn’t much more than they do in one of their concert performances where the stage is supposed to crumble and the band has to act concerned.  They also each had a little introduction into the movie that I found amusing.  James rides in looking badass in some old car that spits fire, Kirk lets the hero of the movie into the concert (even though he had a pass) because he’s the nice guy in the band, Robert doesn’t really say anything or interact with the hero but he was making the ceiling crumb with the power of his metal ass bass playing in a room lined with speakers, and Lars comes across as a jerk as the guy that needlessly give the stink eye to the hero.  All of these introductions perfectly line up with my ideas about the band.  Dane DeHaan did a good job for someone who didn’t speak.  He’s got a good look in this movie.  I might start wearing blood red hoodies under leather jackets.  For the chicks!  Though I totally understood his character’s fashion choices, that was probably the extent that I understood his choices.  I understand his love of Metallica, but I don’t understand the extent of his love.  If Metallica needed me to get something (legal) for them, I would totally be on board.  If I went outside and everyone was trying to kill me and all the cars were on fire, then fuck Metallica.  The car with the duffel bag would probably be on fire anyway!  And I understand how frightening fire can be, but I don’t understand how his reaction to being cornered by a group of enemies is to cover himself with gasoline, light himself on fire, and run into the group swinging wildly.  This … actually … happened!  Does that make you stronger?  Like from the adrenaline of you being in excruciating pain?  Was it supposed to frighten them so much that they would run away?  I admit that I would be pretty scared of somebody that lit themselves on fire, but I’d probably just keep backing away until you succumbed to the EXCRUCIATING PAIN?!  How about you kick the can of gasoline at the bad guys and light THEM on fire?!

Metallica Through the Never was not without its problems.  I was drawn in because I thought it was a cool idea to have a concert interwoven with a narrative story, but that story was somewhat lackluster.  Of course, the other thing that drew me in was Metallica, and they were Metallica.  I sometimes use Metallica as another word for awesome.  The concert footage is fantastic, and the music is Metallica.  This is a movie that Metallica fans need to watch, and probably already have.  I’m not really sure what people that don’t like Metallica would think.  It’s a very nicely filmed concert, but I don’t think there’s enough here to entertain people who aren’t also digging the music.  Metallica Through the Never gets “Master of Puppets” out of “Sad But True.”

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Predators (2010)

After 5:00?  Damn.  Time to Go Rape Me Some Fine Bitches.

Because of Predator 2, I was extremely cautious about today’s movie.  We’ve seen many times in the past that sequels tend to decrease in quality, but I feel that cinema has also shown movies can occasionally reclaim a bit of their former glory when they’ve been removed for a few more years and no longer feel that they need to shove out a sequel while the original is still hot.  The sequels that try to capitalize on the original are usually rushed and terrible, but the other ones at least have a fighting chance.  We’ll find out what happened when they rolled the dice with Predators, written by Michael Finch, directed by Nimród Antal, and starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele.

A group of seemingly random people wake up to find themselves plummeting through the air towards an unfamiliar jungle.  MOST of their parachutes open.  When they finally come together, they introduce themselves as Royce (Adrien Brody), an ex-special ops soldier turned mercenary, Isabelle (Alice Braga), an IDF sniper, Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Yakuza enforcer, Stans (Walton Goggins), a death row inmate, Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Spetsnaz soldier, Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Revolutionary United Front officer, Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, and Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor.  Together, they find out that they’re actually on an alien planet, where they were all chosen to sharpen the skills of a group of Predators.  Also, there’s a crazy guy named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) that lives in the jungle after having survived an earlier season.

Predators is not without its problems, but I still felt like it was able to claim a decent enough chunk of the fun you can find in the first movie.  And, to its credit, it’s far superior to Predator 2.  The story is nothing super spectacular, but it never really has been in this series.  They’re all basically “Guy(s) fights a Predator(s)”.  That’s basically what you’re getting here too.  But it really doesn’t have a lot of stupid stuff going on in it.  That’s good for the enjoyment of a movie, but disappointing when my favorite thing to do is mock the movies.  It didn’t really give me that much ammunition, at least for this paragraph.  It didn’t try very hard in the story, the dialogue was mostly pretty basic, and they only attempt to surprise the audience a few times, and a few of them actually work.  It’s an action movie, pure and simple, and the action is pretty satisfying.  It’s mostly some good gunplay and some bits of the Predators being awesome, but that’s all I really want to see.  I did appreciate that it totally hits the ground running on the action, with the very first scene being Royce plummeting through the air.  And it keeps that fun going pretty much all the way through.

The characters of the movie gave me the most ammunition for jokes, though the performances themselves gave me no complaints.  The reason I found the characters so amusing is because so many of them were just stereotypes.  Take, for example, Nikolai.  He was a Russian!  WHAT?!  How long did they have to brainstorm to come up with that name?!  Speaking of which, Hanzo!  His character was also a stereotype.  In fact, it was more than one smashed together.  He was a Yakuza, but also exhibited signs of being both a ninja and a samurai, just like every Asian person.  For the first bulk of the movie, I was actually shocked that they didn’t give him a friggin’ katana to fight with … and then they did.  Danny Trejo was also a pretty stereotypical Mexican.  I mean in real life.  His character was too, though.  The African dude with the unpronounceable name (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) seemed to basically be Joseph Kony, but much less of a monster.  Walton Goggins was a fairly basic white trash character as well.  Topher Grace’s character was the only one that had any kind of surprise to him.  Adrien Brody and Alice Braga didn’t really fit any particular stereotype for their race, but settled pretty nicely into the stereotypes of action movie characters.  Brody was a pretty typical gruff, raspy, mysterious action dude, and Braga was the tough chick, and more damsel in distress near the end of the movie.  And Laurence Fishburne was almost annoyingly over the top as his crazy character.

Predators has a pretty basic story and never really tries to be more than an action movie, but that’s not really a bad thing.  It knew what it was trying to do and it did it, and the movie was pretty fun and pretty fantastic to look at.  The characters were one-dimensional and usually stereotypical, but they were well performed.  Final verdict: the comparison between Predator and Predators is nowhere near the same as Alien and Aliens, and I’d say the original Predator is probably a little better, but Predators is pretty close, and way better than Predator 2.  Also, definitely worth a watch.  And, now that we’ve talked Aliens and Predators, I think we need to see what happens when they throw down against each other.  We’ll find out how that works out over the next two days, but for now, Predators gets “They’re bigger than us, stronger, but also heavier” out of “Looking good there, boss.”

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