Metallica: Through the Never—a confounding but awesome mix of concert footage and action movie drama—is in theaters now. Just over a month ago, One Direction: This Is Us made its U.S. debut.
Both are in 3D, and both star bands at the top of their respective genre's feeding chain. But surprisingly, the similarities don't end there. Sure, one is about a gritty metal band and the other is about a manufactured boy band, but these for-the-fans films share a few key factors. From indie directors with similar career paths to superheroes to egregious shirtless shots, here are some of the strange similarities and notable differences between This Is Us and Through the Never.
In 2003, Hungarian American filmmaker Nimrod Antal made his directorial debut Kontroll, a darkly comic thriller that was uber-acclaimed on the indie circuit. Since then, his last three efforts—from the horror flick Vacancy to that Predators reboot—have been unceremoniously bashed by critics. Metallica: Through the Never is his first widely celebrated movie in a decade.
In 2004, Morgan Spurlock made his directorial debut with Super Size Me, a comic documentary that was uber-acclaimed on the indie circuit. Since then, his theatrically released documentaries have been widely ignored and less than enthusiastically received by critics. One Direction: This Is Us is his biggest success since that McDonald's-slamming debut.
Coincidence? Obviously. But still, a strange similarity.
Metallica and One Direction decided to make their respective films in 3D. To bring fans closer than ever before to the artists they love? Nah, just because it raises the ticket price by at least three dollars and the movie industry is hungry for your cash. That being said, Metallica's 3D filmmaking is a truly immersive experience: The quality of the 3D concert footage nearly fools your brain into thinking you're in the arena. This is not the case with One Direction: This Is Us. Most of the film is basically 2D, and the concert footage that does take advantage of 3D uses it as a trick: It's less about creating a believable space (like Avatar) and more about stuff flying toward your face.
Believe it or not, Metallica concerts are filled predominantly with white men. And shockingly, One Direction draws a large number of white girls. Yeah, neither film is going to win an NAACP image award, but one of them is slightly more inclusionary. This Is Us shows Directioners all around the world, so by its nature, it's a more diverse affair. That being said, the 1D concert footage is nearly as whitewashed as Metallica's. So unlike similar 3D documentaries from Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, the audience depicted in these films is extremely homogeneous.
At one point during One Direction's film, the camera freeze frames on each band member and costumes of famous Marvel heroes are superimposed onto their bodies. In other words, the boys are heroes! Metallica: Through the Never also taps into our collective fixation on people as heroes. The action movie portion of the film stars Dane DeHaan as a young band roadie who goes on a quest to recover a mystical bag Metallica desperately needs.
He faces off against a generically evil villain, gains confidence throughout the journey and even has his own lucky talisman! So for Metallica, the hero in their movie isn't the musician—it's the fan, i.e., YOU.
Every member of One Direction goes shirtless during This Is Us—usually more than once, or in Harry Styles' case, as often as possible. Metallica's James Hetfield is stricken by the same itchy shirt syndrome during Through the Never. His weathered (but fit!) chest is on full display during much of the concert.
But when these guys do wear shirts, Metallica and 1D both favor rock n' roll tees of other bands. 1D dig the Rolling Stones and the Doors if we're to believe their shirts, while Metallica rep for Slayer and White Zombie (the latter via a sticker on Kirk Hammett's guitar).
Through the Never and This Is Us both feature scenes that remind you how crazy rich these musicians are, although only one movie is super annoying about it. While 1D's flick features a genuinely touching scene where Zayn Malik's mother and sisters explore the new house he purchased for them, Metallica's movie squeezes in a scene where James Hetfield drives a vintage car that shoots flames from its exhaust.
Why this random scene forced into Metallica's otherwise tightly-paced film? Because classic cars kick-ass, bro! And Hetfield wants you to know how cool he is by association with a car that costs more than most people's annual salary. Cool scene for a band that claims they need to tour constantly in order to avoid going broke.