On the cusp of the thirty-year anniversary of their debut album, Kill ‘Em All, Metallica was doing something they’d probably never even dreamed about, back when they were touring in a van. The foursome was promoting a 3-D motion picture event with jaw-dropping Hollywood effects, with the story centered around lyrics from their greatest hits.
On the fourth floor of the Hilton Bayfront San Diego, at the end of a seemingly endless hallway straddling the back of the building, far away from peering eyes, stood a line of reporters waiting patiently for their chance to get two minutes with the biggest rock band in the world. Metallica was in town, and everyone knew it.
But looking for posters or signs indicating the legendary metal band’s presence would have been futile. Metallica was in stealth mode. Yes, the band was talking to the press about their upcoming feature film Metallica: Through The Never, but word was spreading fast that the foursome were also playing a secret concert at a small, local venue. Probing for details about the concert produced the same answer for every reporter; “Sorry, I don’t have any details.”
When it came time to dig into the story behind the movie, drummer Lars Ulrich told Radio.com, “You know what, I’ve spent three years working on this movie and I don’t have any idea what it means.” Ulrich laughed, understanding that the answer left to much to be desired so he launched into a description of the film saying that the storyline is largely “ambiguous,” much like singer James Hetfield’s lyrics.
The film’s main character, Trip, played by Dane DeHaan (who also landed the roll of Harry Osborne in next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2), is a “runner” who is sent into the terrifying post-apocalyptic city on an errand to fetch a mystery package for the band during one of their performances. While on the hunt for the band’s package, DeHaan runs into far more than he bargained for. What happens to him affects the arena show and in turn, the events that take place in the arena affect the city. As Ulrich tells it, the movie is “his story; you’re following it through his escapades while cutting back to the Metallica show that unfolds in real time.”
“The story is about Trip and his tenacity, his wanting to fulfill this errand. There’s this bag, with something in it, that he holds onto for dear life.” When asked what’s in the bag, Ulrich joked, “Dahaan may be the only person on the planet that knows what’s in the bag and he may take that to his grave.” Ulrich explains that the film is a narrative, told in part by Metallica’s lyrics and in part by Trip’s actions.
Talking about the script, “[Director] Nimród [Antal] went away for three months and created the character of Trip and created this whole story,” recalled Ulrich. “We then sat and read the script and it was beautiful and crazy and full of energy in an abstract kind of way.”
Ulrich seemed particularly proud of the film’s theatrical rollout, detailing that “it will do something no other movie has done.”
When asked why Comic Con was chosen as the venue to launch the film’s promotion, Ulrich smiled and said, “In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s sort of the premiere place… This is kinda the cool place to do this in America. What I’ve taken away from this is that people here are real fans. It’s not like a bunch of 60-year old music critics smoking cigarettes without filters; it’s people that actually care about what you’re doing.”
— Jay Tilles, Radio.com.