Pacific Rim Is Awesome

Pacific-Rim-Poster Before jumping into my review of Pacific Rim, I want to talk about two things running through my mind as I was heading into the theater Saturday evening. First off, I’d been reading a lot that week about how this movie was going to tank. That’s one of the downsides to having a gig in the entertainment industry, you’re constantly inundated with the business-y side of Hollywood, the kind of stuff most people don’t really care about. The problem, though, is that sometimes the projections about how well a movie is going to do leading up to its release wind up poisoning the well a bit for the people who do pay attention to these things. “It’s not going to do well? I’m not gonna go.” I don’t have a solution for those aside, but the news bummed me out. Did it have something to do with Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2 doing better over the weekend at the box office? Maybe. Then again, those more family friendly movies were going to be big no matter what.

The other thing rolling through my head was, “THIS is going to be what I always wanted from a Godzilla movie.” As a kid, I loved the bits and pieces of giant moster flicks I’d catch on TV, but when I finally turned 16 and started getting tapes by the backpack-full from Family Video I discovered something rather unsettling: a lot of those movies (like Gamer vs. Viras) are super boring. All you really want is guys in rubber suits fighting over a cardboard city with toy tanks shooting at them, but what you get is a little bit of that with a lot of scientists talking about how to stop the monster. Yawn.

I figured that a director like Guillermo del Toro would be able to figure out a way to balance the giant action with the smaller character moments and that’s what Pacific Rim delivered as far as I’m concerned. The story takes place on an Earth in which an inter-dimensional portal has opened up in the ocean. Said portal spits out giant monsters — dubbed kaiju — that humanity has to fight. The human race took on the first one with conventional weapons, but eventually built gigantic robots called jaegers to handle the menace. The jaegers are so big, though, that you’ve got to meld two minds to run them. Two pilots — usually relatives — literally link minds to drive these things and fight the baddies. Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket is a one-time jaeger pilot who winds up working for his old boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and new co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) to try and put a stop to this nearly decade-long menace once and for all. There’s a whole heckuva lot more going on, of course, but I don’t want to get too spoilery (yet).

Guys, I loved this movie. It delivered exactly what I wanted and even a little more. The robots versus monsters scenes were fantastic with everything from spinning blades and swords to battleships coming into play. But there’s also a real sense of menace to the film. They got pretty good at taking on the kaiju for a while as Becket tells us in the opening monologue, but then things got crazier with bigger, more dangerous monsters attacking. A pair of scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are doing their best to figure out what’s going on, but in the meantime you get the sense that the world is hanging in the balance. Some politicians have decided to bury their heads in the sand and try a fairly foolish means of defense (which might seem a little insane, but I bought it enough), but luckily for earth there are some very brave men and women from all over the globe working together to put a stop to it.

As a kid I always wanted to cut out all the boring stuff with people and just watch the fights, but in this one, I thought there was a good deal of humanity interspersed throughout. Sure, a lot of it’s the kind of stuff you’d expect. A leader who considers his image more important than his well-being, a cocky fighter unsure of why the hasbeen and rookie have been brought in, a person who hates the kaiju for destroying their family (that flashback scene kicked me in the gut, I’m such a wuss when it comes to kids in films these days). But when those characters are played well — and I thought they were for the most part — a bit of new life is breathed in. Plus, even if you don’t dig the, you wait a little bit and a robot rips a monster’s tongue out, so it’s cool.

pacific rim gipsy danger poster

There were a few elements of the film that didn’t sit particularly well with me. Minor SPOILERS follow. I enjoyed Hunnam’s performance, but the way he spoke was kind of distracting. The actor is from England, but he sports one of those accents that doesn’t sound like it truly belongs on either side of the pond. I had a similar complaint regarding Freddie Highmore’s performance in the first episode of Bates Motel. I’m not sure if this is just how he talks or how he was directed to speak, but it was distracting. I also wondered why the manner of defense against the kaiju was so segregated. You’ve basically got the jaegers and a giant wall, but the two are almost completely unrelated. Wouldn’t it make sense to have cannons that can do the same thing that Gipsy Danger’s fists can? They’ve been fighting these monsters for 6 or 7 years and no one thought of building up the borders in a different way?

But those are fairly minor quibbles. On the whole, I thought the story had a lot of fun, new elements that made sense and also had fun with sci-fi elements. The mental handshake stuff was cool and how can you not love ridiculously gigantic robots being built in even bigger bunkers driven by two people? The basic concepts get thrown at you pretty early in the movie, so if you’re not on board with the movie science, then you might want to skip the whole thing altogether. As it is, I enjoyed seeing a big budget spectacle that wasn’t based on anything but writer Travis Beachum and del Toro’s imaginations. I was far from disappointed by this film and would recommend anyone who though the trailers looked cool to go check it out.

Okay, SUPER SPOILER TIME. This is so SPOILERY that I’m putting it after the jump if you happen to be reading this post on the main page. If not, you’ve been warned.  Continue reading Pacific Rim Is Awesome

Ice Pirates Is Crazy

I know I’ve been only half paying attention to a lot of movies lately. It’s because I like to have something on in the background while I’m looking for jobs online or trying to scrounge of freelance. Also, I may or may not be addicted to my new laptop. Either way, it takes a lot for a movie to really hold my attention and while Ice Pirates (1984) may not have done it for the entire movie, there were some ridiculously funny parts that I’ve been able to find clips of on YouTube so you can share in the enjoyment. As you can probably tell from the poster, the movie is a Star Wars/sci-fi spoof that’s a little more serious than Space Truckers and Star Slammer. They live in a universe where water is at a premium, hence the name “ice pirates.” It also stars Robert Urich, Anjelica Huston, Bruce Vilanch, John Carradine and Ron Perlman.

First off, I present to you “space herpes.”

Outlander Was Surprisingly Good

I say surprisingly because the only thing I ever heard about Outlander (2008) is that it feature Vikings vs. aliens. In fact, when it was released on DVD in the last couple of weeks everyone referred to it as such. So, I added it to the top of my queue as I’m want to do with delayed movies and forgot about it. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

The funny thing about watching movies on the train is that I don’t have any information on the movie, just what’s in front of me. Having put the disc in the player the night before and not reading any of the Netflix disc info I thought I was watching a really impressive movie from no name actors. It wasn’t until I looked the movie up on IMDb that Jesus himself starred. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Jim Caviezel in anything, so he just looked like any other dude to me and I definitely didn’t recognize Ron Perlman with all that Viking gear on (and sans Hellboy trench coat). William Hurt’s in it too, but he just looked like an old guy to me.

I’d like to flesh out the plot a little bit more for you guys too, assuming there aren’t a lot of people who saw it (according to Wiki it was only given a one week release, which is a shame because it’s one of the best original sci-fi movies I’ve seen in a while). It’s kind of a mix between Halo, Planet of the Apes, Predator, Alien, Pathfinder (but not shitty) with a few other references/homages thrown in like The Fugitive. Our main character is actually an alien of the space marine variety. He crashes on Earth during Viking times and helps them fight a rad-looking alien monster thing called the Moorwen.

Speaking of the Moorwen, the filmmakers did a great job creating the beast and really had fun with all the tail-whips and whatnot, but the really interesting aspect of the creature for me was the fact that it utilized bioluminescence to lure it’s prey (and to look like a rave at times). It’s just a cool idea that I haven’t seen before and the effects looked really good. Maybe it’s because I was watching it on a tiny screen, but I hope it would have looked just as good on my big TV.

It might sound kind of a straightforward plot, but there are all kinds of reveals and not the crazy twist kinds, just past-revealing moments that really flesh out the plot. Turns out our hero may not have been such a good dude and the Moorwen might have been victims themselves. There’s also a whole other mess going on between Hurt and Perlman’s people. Plus, the films I rattled off above don’t get copied exactly by any means, it’s just hard to watch any alien movie without thinking of Alien or Predator. Outlander takes all the elements, adds their own twists, mixes in the Viking stuff and blends them together in a nice cocktail, kind of like how Doomsday took all these rad elements and put them together, though I think it’s a bit smoother in Outlander (and with fewer ingredients).

If you’re an action, sci-fi fan or even a horror fan (there’s lots of blood, caves, monsters and corpses), you should definitely check it out.