Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pacific Rim - *New Format*

Pacific Rim – 131 min – PG-13

As a kid I loved the Godzilla movies, they were the one thing that I can look back on with fond memories. They would show a monster movie every Saturday at noon I never missed a one. Pacific Rim brings me back to those same moments with its spectacular visuals. This is what Ishirô Honda imagined when he made some actor dress in a rubber monster suit and trample on a model of Tokyo. Our technology has finally caught up with the scope of his imagination. I wonder what he could have done with the story if he had this technology at his disposal. I am giving this a green light because of the stunning beauty of this film and not the depth of its story. Great looking film about as deep as a teaspoon. But I am not going to let the grown up in my head ruin this movies experience.

Let me get a few things out of the way. One bit of gossipy news that caught my eye before this movie released was the feud between Michael Bay and Guillermo del Toro. As it turns out Michael Bay said something at a speech he was giving that was along the lines of these “Rip- off” robot movies not standing up to his real robot movies. He was referring to the Transformers Franchise and as a point of personal privilege, Mr. Bay, your movies peaked at the first one. So far your sequels have fallen far short of the standard you set with the original film. The first one was a balanced blend of action, comedy, drama. It was perfect. BUT just because you had that perfect formula on the first one does not give you the right to lay clam over the “robot” genre.

Guillermo del Toro’s response to Michael Bay’s comment was classic:

“We are far, far, far away from that in a very willing fashion. For good or bad, this is my movie. This is my universe and my creation, and I do not create through comparison.”

In Martial arts we call this a block and now comes the counterstrike… he continued:

“The fights don’t occur in well-lit, supercool, car commercial-looking environments. They occur in the middle of a raging sea storm or in a savage snowstorm. They happen in a universe that is incredibly saturated.”

POINT-Del Toro

As it turned out, Michael Bay says he was not talking about Pacific Rim when he made the comment but as it was the only movie in the hopper, you can see where we could make that mistake. He and Guillermo del Toro spoke on the phone and they have assured one another that they are still friends and offences were unintentional on both parts.

Visually, this film was great to watch, not just from a very cool action and spectacular effects but in the craftsmanship that Guillermo del Toro has with shot composition. He can blend several elements in a shot that make it wonderful to look at. He knows what people are looking for and can deliver the goods but does not make the over the top explosions the central aspect of the film.

The kid in me completely loves this movie but there were issues with the story over all. I am going to talk about some spoilers so you need to stop off here. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

A movie that is based on this much visual stimuli could be weighed down by too much plot. It’s a good thing it did not have any of that extra baggage. If you took every hot-shot pilot movie and blended them in with a Godzilla movie and added just a hint of environmental message you have an exact blueprint for this film.

Even if you can read the plot points way before they show up, it does not take away from the enjoyment. Giant Monsters called Kaiju have attacked and the world has set aside all of its petty squabbles to put all of our resources into building giant robots called Jaegers. The robots are so big that one pilot can’t handle the mental load of running it. It takes two pilots that synchronize mentally, called drifting. Each person pilots one half of the robot and because of the drift they act as one.

During the previews, I was wondering what the deal was with two people in a robot doing synchronized piloting. They did a great job of explaining it. With two people who are mental linked they are inside each other’s heads while drifting so they are actually one person…it made better sense in the movie.

The hot-shot misunderstood ragtag pilots for this movie are Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). They are the unlikely pair who have just enough loss in their lives to make them the perfect match. The down side is Mako is the adoptive daughter of Jaeger base commander, Stacker Pentacost (Idris Elba) He does not want his little girl to get hurt, but changes his mind in the end -- all very rote. It was not a distraction from the very cool scenes where the two pilots were testing each other out in the sparing ring. They play well off one another and look great.

Idris Elba completely dominates the screen and he seems to fit the role of Stacker Pentecost like it was written for him. Stacker is no end of bad-ass. His performance is spot on with this air of calm power. The typical motivational speech at the end of the movie is packed with enough emphasis to rally human kind in the final last ditch effort.

I only had a few minor problem with this movie. One is why did they not bring out the sword in the weapons arsenal right off the bat. Seems like a no-brainer but what do I know? I am not a Jaeger pilot. “ I am going to beat you to death because slicing your head off just doesn’t seem to be fair. It’s over too quickly and I don’t get the enjoyment of bludgeoning you with a tanker ship”.

The second point that I really had an issue with is when Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) discover that the big plan won’t work after they drift with a monster. They have no way of contacting the Jaeger control other than hoofing it and catching a helicopter. You go through all the trouble of brining a crap load of equipment to hook into a Kaiju brain but no one thinks to bring a cell phone? Weak!

My wife and I have this thing where we raise our hands when we watch a movie that has a science problem in its story. We like to point out when something doesn’t ring true. She wanted to point out the bad science fact dribbled out by Dr. Newton Geiszler that the Kaiju have two brains because of their large size just like the dinosaurs did. Now from a story point I can see why you need to tie in the other gigantic monsters that roamed the earth, but they did not have two brains….I pointed out to her that the point is invalid because I am watching gigantic robots fight gigantic monsters. DO NOT CLOUD MY EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR “FACTS”. Actually her point is valid after I have calmed down because they did not have two brains.

POINT - wife

What movie have you enjoyed so much you overlooked the bad science in it?

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