Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fun-Filled To The Rim

One of the most visually stunning movies since Avatar, Guelermo Del Torro's Pacific Rim is fast, fun and furiously entertaining empty-headed fun.

ON CONTINUITY

ARTH VADER (AV): While I would credit the origin of the Giant Robot genre as being a mostly Manga (or Japanese Sci-Fi) creation, our fascination with larger than life robots dates back to the 1950s (Gort anyone?). If we can envision human beings piloting massive interstellar spaceships, then why not giant robots? This is the premise and the promise of Pacific Rim–and as a kid who couldn't get enough Gaiking, Danguard Ace, Voltron and even the Shogun Warriors back in the 1970's, this movie was highly anticipated by yours truly. Pontificator, you a 'big robots' kind of guy?

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): You know I am Vader! Pacific Rim is an original story, although there have been comparisons to Godzilla and Transformers, neither of those films encompassed the entirety of what drives this film. Yes, there are monsters that come from the sea, but they have nothing in common with Godzilla. Yes, there are giant robots, but they are vehicles piloted by humans, not sentient aliens that transform. Anyone not seeing this film, because of passed films they think are similar, is doing themselves a disservice.

CASTING, DIRECTING AND ACTING


AV: The only name here in this film that matter is director Guilermo del Toro and his fan boy vision of bringing the world of Pacific Rim to life. Sporting a class of largely unknowns and C-list actors, the surprising inclusion of Idris Elba, Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day and Ron "Hellboy" Perlman make this movie's cast stronger than it would likely have been. While low marks for casting, the direction of this movie is a bit better. Anchored by del Toro's visionary monster and robot designs, this movie is a fan boy's dream-come-true.

TP: This film was cast well enough and flowed from the smooth direction. When everything is jumping out of the screen, big as life itself, it’s hard to not get swept up in the flow of the film. Add to this the talent of Charlie Hunnam as a Jaeger pilot still dealing with the loss of his brother, as he is called back to duty when the world is on the brink of annihilation, and you have some great character development to go along with all the “big.” Idris Elba was excellent. He kept the film grounded in the human will and determination to live in the face of destruction, and was able to convey this while immersing himself in the role of command, demanding respect and obedience. Rinko Kikuchi was a surprise for me and her role as the novice pilot mentally and emotionally damaged by her childhood encounter with the Kaiju complimented the tone of the film.

SPECIAL EFFECTS

AV: I was squirming in my chair at how fantastic-looking this movie was, Ponty! There has been a lot of flak over this movie from critics but I think it is safe to say that this movie is visually captivating on levels I have not seen since Avatar or District 9. Pont-Man, the visual effects are some of the best Hollywood has to offer and the look and set design is seriously a leap forward. While I was NOT a fan of the 'neo-trimmer' look of the monster 'Kaiju' (from the Japanese for 'monsters'), the dark foreboding look of the film was spectacularly handled. Just look at these stills and screen captures. Breathtaking... 

TP: Outstanding! Once again, I watched this film in Imax 3D Vader, and couldn’t be more happier that I did. If I could sum this film up in one word, that word would be BIG. The Kaiju jumped off the screen and had me digging into my seat to get away from them, and although it was a relief to see a Jaeger come to the rescue...it was equally daunting in size, putting everything in perspective as to the incredibly huge stakes involved. The CGI detail was simply incredible regardless if it was the Kaiju, Jaegers, or just the copious amounts of wanton destruction. Even though there was no new ground broken, it was the application of all the technology that made all the difference. Yes, we saw “giant robots” (not really) in the Transformers films, but I never thought I‘d see them done... better!

TAKING A DEEPER LOOK


AV: This movie's price tag came busting through the dimensional portal at more than $170 million. (Insert deep breath here) No doubt about it, this was a costly gamble.

Okay, so while the vapid, almost senseless plot along with the vapid, near empty-headed dialogue does NOT help this film, Pacific Rim goes a bit deeper than pretty visual effects. As I see it, del Toro's vision of a world unified under the threat of global extinction and subjugation, the movie suggests we can all unite under one banner and have the sum be better than its parts. While the story is a bit dopey–with it's implications of a trans-dimensional alien invasion–this movie is made for someone who is ready for a good-looking, fun romp through a fantastic-looking escapist world. Pacific Rim is NOT going to win any Oscars and I am fine with that. As a life-long fan of these films, I was a little boy who couldn't get enough–and isn't that why we go to the movies anyway, Pontificator? 

TP: It is indeed Dark One. I don’t have any real criticisms with regards to acting, effects or anything of that nature. My only critical thoughts are on some of the actual actions taken in the film. It didn’t make sense to me that anyone would waste a single moment punching on a Kaiju... when you have a plasma cannon, missiles and a huge freaking sword! Granted, the pilots are mentally linked to each other and the Jaeger, so whatever their fighting style is, manifests in the Jaegers actions. This was very cool, especially when it came to  Crimson Typhoon as the three brothers piloting it were incredibly acrobatic. Giant robots are cool...giant robots flipping...? Awesome! That said, I would be using my most lethal and effective attacks very quickly to minimize the possibility of taking damage, or being killed. 

I assume all the punching was done for film purposes, but the film itself paints a very clear and solemn picture of the end of the world and once I was drawn into the zone of no hope, I was looking for it in any form I could find it. Plasma cannons and giant swords slicing Kaiju’s in half gave me hope!  I think the government bureaucracy deciding to build giant walls instead of Jaegers was spot on with how out of touch and foolish politicians can be. 

Again, none of the films being compared to this movie (Godzilla, Transformers Trilogy) even came close to conveying the imminent destruction of all life on the planet...and the desperation of all of humanity to stop that from happening. Such strong emotions made the difference.

ON SEQUELS

AV: With as much polarizing fanfare as this movie has gotten, it is a fun, indulgent tryst through a fantastic world that could use more fleshing out and to be totally selfish, show me some more Jaeger (giant robot) tech to make my eyeballs pop out of their sockets. There a probably tons of people who will lose their collective minds at even the mention of a sequel, but P-Man, I say bring it on. How say you?

TP: I didn’t see any indication that there will be more to this story Vader, and honestly, it was done well enough that there doesn’t need to be. This film stands alone and I think to try and stretch or expand the story will just hurt the overall integrity of the presentation of this idea.

RATE IT! 
ARTH VADER rates Pacific Rim: The lines are drawn, you either love this movie or you despise it. There are no shoulder shrugs for this movie. If you want in-depth dialogue, scientific plausibility and an in-depth character development, this may not be the film for you. 

However, if you are looking for visually intense, fun-riddled and graphics laced with giant robots punching the snot out of big ugly, extra-dimensional monsters, then I strongly recommend Pacific Rim. For me this movie crushed eight (8) busted blocks under a 120-ton, nuclear-powered metal boot that took me back to a time when wonder and imagination mattered more than just about anything else. Ponty? 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Pacific Rim: With great special effects, great actors, a riveting end-of-the-world story, this film was truly a fun summer film in the tradition of great summer blockbusters. Giant robots are cool, and the way this idea was presented made them even cooler. Defending the Earth from giant monsters, this movie fires missiles and arms a plasma cannon to make sure it destroys eight (8) busted blocks.

Pacific Rim: 8/10 Busted Blocks

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2 comments:

  1. As I told Kate when I saw it last Saturday, this movie takes me back to Saturday matinee's where you'd watch a great monster flick like Godzilla followed by a Voltron marathon. Except of course that it mashed the two together. We had no expectations on it (I didn't know Perlman or Del Toro were involved until the credits) and came out liking it!

    Great job as usual you two! Hopefully you stayed through the credits for the easter egg. ;)

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  2. I think Ill watch this one now.

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