Occasionally, The Red Dragon likes to relax with a little Metallica after a hard days work executing the local rubes that sporadically pester him with various, ahem, draconian laws. So I decided to fork out the extra cash for this on the IMAX screen – was it worthwhile? Well, I was surprised that there is a vague sort of narrative to this courtesy of actor Dane Dehaan whom we see, in between live concert footage of the band, going on a mission to get extra fuel for the gig (cue a thundering rendition of the song) and popping a mysterious pill on the way. In terms of that story, what follows is a sort of tripped out fantasy as he battles all sorts of assorted criminals in dream like sequences – very much reminiscent of the sort of screwball antics in Zack Snyder’s ‘Sucker Punch’ (11).
Overall these segments just feel a bit silly, and don’t really serve much of a purpose – running with a story in the background could have worked, but a real story, maybe with some sort of message behind it that the band feel very strongly about, internet piracy perhaps …(Metallica were the driving force behind shutting down file sharing colossus Napster). What this film excels at actually has nothing to do with the content of the movie – rather it is the inherent wonderful stage theatrics that the audience are treated to, as the band run through many of their most famous hits (although I don’t think they played any of their newer numbers – from the likes of albums ‘St. Anger’ 03 and ‘Death Magnetic’ 08).
Certainly on IMAX screens this is LOUD, which kind of goes without saying, but I wonder how the acoustics, in terms of decibels, of a large concert hall compare to those of the much smaller cinema screen auditorium. Getting your ear drums smashed to bits at a live Metallica gig at least has some cachet to it – having the same thing occur in a cinema isn’t quite so cool.
Overall as a fan of the music I did enjoy this, but there’s nothing to really raise it above a mere decent experience, and unless you are a devotee I don’t think the extra cost for the IMAX experience is going to be especially justified – plus it seemed to finish quite early, and since they’re combining multiple gigs for the film (and there’s the story element absorbing some time) they could easily have extended it another twenty minutes or so. The film was released to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of early band member and base guitar legend Cliff Lee Burton, who met a tragic (and very rock and roll) death when their tour bus skidded on a Swedish road, ejecting Burton from his bunk and through the window only to have the bus then land on top of him. Reportedly a makeshift crane was assembled, but it collapsed before they were able to pull him out from under the bus. Pretty awful – legend also has it that he won a game of cards with the ace of spades to decide his bunk for that evening, and, as everyone knows, the ace of spades represents death …