Pacific Rim

Pacific RimWe went to see Pacific Rim today, and while it was fun, it was not the no-holds-barred awesomefest I was hoping for.

For starters, I have a long-time adoration for both Godzilla and for robots, so there were two giant marks in PR’s favor right off the bat. I’m also a fan of big-to-the-point-of-silly action movies when they’re done well. Guillermo del Toro has a pretty good track record. Twitter was also all abuzz about how kickass PR is, so with all of this put together I went in with high expectations, which were sadly not met.

On the plus side, the Kaiju were pretty cool. And the Jaegers were also decently cool, though I wish they had been more stylized. It’s a Guillermo del Toro movie, come on! He’s like the king of neato stylized worlds and creations. On to my major nitpicks.

One: I am definitely experiencing Destruction Fatigue. This was just the most recent in a very long line of movies in which vast cities are destroyed, giant fragments of metal and concrete are hurled around like confetti, and the action happening is so frantic and close-up that you can hardly even tell what is happening. A thing is smashing another thing and now they are smashing into other, bigger things while they hurtle around smashing each other! Now I can definitely appreciate the power of a gigantic explosion, and the devastation of a city destroyed. Many movies have used this type of action and destruction to great success. But when it happens over and over in pretty much the same way and without any particular thing to latch on to, it loses its effectiveness. I was really pleased to see that a non-sequel giant summer movie can still get made, but this one didn’t speak well for itself.

Two: PR is an action movie and as such one doesn’t necessarily expect that the writing will be strong, but it was seriously weak here, both in dialogue and in storytelling. Even a talented actor like Idris Elba couldn’t save some of the formulaic lines. There was a lot of repeating the same thing over and over, to make sure that the idiots in the audience understood, I guess? (We got it.) And in the storytelling, there were just a really lot of scenes when a lack of consistency or illogical scenario took me out of the moment. Such as: the Jaeger is picking up shipping containers and then dragging a huge ship around as a weapon and then moments later the pilots are like, “Oh yeah, we should use the GIANT FUCKING SWORD THAT SEEMS TO BE PRETTY MUCH 100% EFFECTIVE.” Ya think?) Also: I’m not a science expert, but aren’t Kaiju supposed to be reptilian or amphibian or something along those lines? Something that isn’t a mammal, anyway, so why would they have umbilical cords? I know, I know, they’re aliens and they can do whatever they want. Also: I get that it’s a dire situation, but doesn’t it seem like blowing up a nuclear bomb in the center of the earth is going to have some major drawbacks down the line? I’m not saying that they had a lot of choices, but it seems like a plan with a pretty big downside. Also: the whole concept of two people being able to operate a Yaeger effectively is really far-fetched to me. Many of us humans can barely coordinate one body with one mind, let alone two minds that are supposed to be able to balance and do complicated physical fighting simultaneously. (I know, I know, willing suspension of disbelief.) Also: at the beginning of the movie, the premise is that the two pilots connecting to run the Jaeger have to be super-compatible in order to make it work well. Like brothers or father and son or some other really close male-male combination. Yet at the end, it’s like, who’ve we got? Throw them in! Also: if you’re a society trying to fight these Kaiju, why would you create Jaegers that are just matched (or outmatched) by the Kaiju – why would you not create something bigger, stronger, and more easily able to defeat the enemy?

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Three: This was Yet Another movie that spectacularly failed the Bechdel Test. I mean, seriously, people. One female character. ONE.

Four: This is probably a combination of items two and three, but I just couldn’t find any characters to connect with. None of them were fully fleshed out enough to feel like I could empathize with them. Even the nerds!

Five: Pacific Rim did not seem capable of finding humor in itself. I’ve likely been spoiled by smart movies like those made by Edgar Wright, but I believe that you can do genre well and at the same time have fun. There were a shit-ton of Big Summer Action Flick cliches in this movie but without the knowing wink that would indicate that the filmmakers were aware of them. I expect more from Guillermo del Toro than I do from Michael Bay, is what I’m saying.

All of that said, it was fun at times, and I’m glad we saw it in the theater (at a matinee, so it was the cheap show, thank goodness) since I don’t think it will translate that well to a small screen. And Ron Perlman is pretty much always awesome, so there’s that.


The Star Wars Craft Book

Star Wars Craft BookIt’s hard to overstate how awesome this book is. Who wouldn’t want to make kickass crafts that are inspired by Star Wars? Admiral Sackbar may be my favorite, although it’s damn hard to compete with the Wookiee bird house, and while we’re at it, why on earth do I not have an AT-AT herb garden yet?! Clearly the force has not been strong with me (I find my lack of craft disturbing! How many more Star Wars puns can I possibly squeeze into such a short post?) My post at CPL has more!


Eli and Holmes

It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to keep up with the movies coming out in the theater, so this weekend we made it a point to see one Saturday (K lucked out and got out of work a little early, woot) and another Sunday. Canton Cinema was hopping! Clearly we weren’t the only ones with that plan.

The Book of EliAnyway, Saturday we saw The Book of Eli. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a guy who is compelled to walk West in a post-apocalyptic world in which gangs of thugs rule and many people have resorted to cannibalism to stay alive (*shudder*). The guy, played by Denzel Washington, is Eli. He has in his possession a book, namely the King James version of the Bible, which is most likely the last copy in existence. The book is really important to Eli and coincidentally he happens to walk into a town run by self-appointed SOB-in-charge Carnegie (played by Gary Oldman) who is desperately searching for, you guessed it, a copy of the Bible. Of course this means that Eli gets pulled into the lives of the people in the town and, since he’s now off his path (the walking West quest), things inevitably go to shit.

The movie has some striking scenes and there are some impressive action sequences. Washington and Oldman both play their parts well, despite the fairly stock nature of their characters. Given that the Bible is the focus of so much of the film I expected there to be plenty of preaching, but it was actually pretty minimal – enough that I was able to mostly ignore it. I’d recommend seeing it in the theater because it’s pretty on the big screen, but I wouldn’t see it twice.

Sherlock Holmes

Sunday we finally saw Sherlock Holmes. From the previews I expected it to be all action but there was enough deduction to keep my interest. Robert Downey Jr. is a good fit for this incarnation of Holmes. He’s cocky and a smartypants, and in this case Holmes is also in peak physical condition, so RDJ got to show off his abs of iron. The story wasn’t the most compelling Holmes mystery I’ve seen but it was serviceable, and they wrote it to lead neatly into future installments. There were a number of fairly cheesy lines alluding to the potential future misuse of this or that technology, but what else can you expect from a big-budge studio deal like this?

Though both of these movies were satisfying views, I have to say that the best thing about seeing them was the fact that we managed to make it through two entire movies in the theater and NOT have any of our seat neighbors whip out their cell phones or talk loudly through the film. It is sad that this is a major exception to the norm, but I’ll take it where I can get it.


Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin A friend of ours gave us the heads-up today that there was an advance screening of Ninja Assassin at the Emagine Novi tonight, so we printed up some tickets and headed over. I hadn’t really heard anything about this movie but I was quite pleasantly surprised.

The movie starts off quietly with a scene that could come out of any martial arts flick, but very suddenly the violence cuts in and it’s ON. There’s no shortage of blood and guts and the style of editing is edgy, jumpy, and as frenetic as the ninjas themselves. Sometimes the action moves so quickly you can’t even tell what’s happening, and then it slows down dramatically so you can savor the ridiculous, gratuitous, awesome violence money shot.

The primary ninja is portrayed by Korean pop-star and Colbert nemesis Rain. He’s ripped as all get-out and one of his main talents seems to be glaring through wet bangs, but he is pretty convincing as a warped rogue ninja bent on destroying the bastards who raised him to be such a monster.

I’d definitely pay to see this movie and I recommend it for all martial arts fans and those who enjoy over the top action.


I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man We went to a matinee of I Love You, Man today and I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much. I hadn’t read much about it and I didn’t know much other than that Paul Rudd’s in it. I was delighted to find that it was hilarious! The basic premise is pretty run o’ the mill but the execution was terrific. Pop culture references abound – some are practically throw aways but to those who get them, they truly take the flick to a funnier level. Paul Rudd’s performance is brilliant and Jason Seley (who I am not particularly familiar with) was also great. There are also a ton of other familiar faces from TV and movies: Jon Favreau, Andy Samberg, Jamie Pressly, the guy who played the dad in Juno, and others. I laughed out loud throughout and definitely recommend it.


Coraline 3D


Last night we saw Coraline in 3D and I highly recommend it. I haven’t seen many 3D movies but those I have were all regular movies with 3D gimmicks or gags. Coraline is a movie truly designed to be 3D – it was filmed that way – and so it works as a whole; the 3D effects don’t take you out of the experience.

As always, the movie’s storyline has been changed somewhat from the book, but in this case the movie works well as its own entity. In addition to the strength of the movie itself, the work that went into making such a beautiful creation is beyond impressive. The knitting alone is a marvel, and that’s not even touching the stop motion process.

The 3D version is only in theaters for a few weeks, so make sure you get there before it’s gone!