Pacific Rim

Okay, so I don’t get it. I don’t understand the love Pacific Rim seems to have inspired in people.

cover_gamera_vs_guiron_jpI would think that maybe I slept through whatever made this movie so great for everyone else, but really I think I only missed the beginning– I fell asleep during the previews and woke up while Charlie Hunnam and his brother were getting their asses kicked by Guiron. So I’m not sure where I diverged from the population at large, including the dude next to me who cackled during bits I found mildly amusing or really just fell flat, or even the friends I saw it with, especially Henry who is usually on the same page as me or even less forgiving than I am. As it ended, I turned to him and asked, “Okay, so you saw the whole movie, was it as bad as I think it was?” Apparently it wasn’t? But I’m really at a loss as to what I missed that made it good.

If it wasn’t clear, I share Guillermo del Toro’s love for Japanese monster movies. I grew up on episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, to the point of when given a stuffed turtle for my birthday, he was immediately named Gamera and flew through the air to save the Playmobil children to the tune of “Gamera is really neat/He is full of turtle meat/We all love you, Gamera!” (And a recent birthday got me the tinned DVD trilogy.) I love these movies in both a genuine and hilarious sort of way, but Pacific Rim just fell short of fulfilling either.

The cast is okay; there are stronger and weaker performances, although no one is really stellar or truly unwatchable. Obviously, Charlie Hunnam didn’t hold up his end of the film. I also question why, in a film full of international accents, they had to force him into being American. Also, I haven’t watched it, but doesn’t he fake it all day long on Sons of Anarchy? You’d think he’d be better at it. Anyway, so he’s pretty wooden, but it’s not the worst performance I’ve ever seen.

rickmoranisbobcatgoldthwaitThen you have Owen from Torchwood and Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny playing the resident wackadoo scientists who spend their days butting heads and trying to figure out the mysteries of the kaiju. Burn Gorman is doing a nerdy, socially-awkward version of his general weirdness he’s showing up with in more and more roles, off-set by a Crispin Glover haircut, a Charlie Chaplin suit and an unexplained limp. It’s all sort of just generally unsettling. Charlie Day’s performance was borderline grating until I realized his character is really just a perfect marriage of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters and Bobcat Goldthwait in the Police Academy movies. Once you put him in that perspective, he suddenly became much more enjoyable to watch.

Max Martini and Ben from True Blood are the Australian father/son Jaegar team, despite neither of them being Australian. Martini is pretty decent, but Rob Kazinsky is given irritatingly little to do aside from be cranky and petulant and glare at people. Also they have a bulldog, for no reason other than bulldogs are cute.

Idris Elba is Idris Elba and can really do no wrong. (Except for this: http://youtu.be/S2okS1Nwi0I) But I’m sorry, that “Cancelling the Apocalypse” speech just doesn’t hold up. Henry likened it to Bill Pullman’s “This Is Our Independence Day” speech and it just isn’t as good, no matter which way you slice it.

The highlight of the film, both in performance and character, is Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori. But even she drops the ball in parts (although I won’t be popular for saying so). She is just a little too weepy for my tastes and I wish the “big secret” of her memories of the kaiju attack that killed her family was something more relevant than Idris Elba adopting her. It was already very clear that he was her dad (I had literally whispered to Henry, “What, is he her dad or something?” when he denied her the co-pilot spot and she cried and stomped off to her room), so it wasn’t a reveal in anyway. And I was thinking that Charlie Hunnam was going to discover some secret about the kaiju or the government’s involvement that perhaps Mako wasn’t even aware she knew. However, the biggest problem is that truly Mako should have been the focus of the movie as opposed to Raleigh. As it is, her character is better developed probably in part because of Kikuchi’s superior acting skills and the death of her family is a much more compelling backstory than his years in Alaska. She’s the Luke Skywalker of the story, and he’s more like a cross between the Han Solo and the Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I did think the romance unfolded really well, though. And I’ve read things claiming it’s not a love story or a love story in the normal sense of the term, but I really disagree. And that isn’t to relegate one of them to the romantic interest role. But it seemed VERY clear to me that as soon as the movie ended they were off to have lots and lots of neural-connection kink sex. Just me? Oh well.

Perhaps my biggest problem with the movie though was the action sequences. Similar to Man of Steel, I felt they went on too long and were too pacificrimuninteresting. Particularly the one in the middle goes on for so long and I knew we weren’t anywhere near the end of the movie, even though it felt like it should be. This could be a by-product of seeing it in IMAX and 3D as well (since unfortunately IMAX 2D isn’t an option), but in most of the battle sequences I found there to be too much debris kick-up/splash from the water. Half of the time 90% of what you were seeing was just splash. I just got kind of bored with it. And it’s nitpicky, but I thought a lot of the kaiju were too similar to each other. They could’ve branched out a little on the designs.

Honestly, I didn’t hate the movie, and I enjoyed myself okay, but it wasn’t good and I’m never going to want to watch it again. And I’m not hard to please as far as campy monster movies go, but I thought this really just missed the mark. That said,


2/5 Sleeping Pants

Stories We Tell

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This post is a couple of weeks overdue, but Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell is a movie that really stuck with me, so I fell like I can still write this post belatedly.

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A little background, if you don’t know, my all-time favorite movie is Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, starring a very young Sarah Polley. And as a kid I was hooked on Road to Avonlea, so I was a big fan long before she grew up and made her own movies. That said, I didn’t see Away From Her cause it looked depressing as fuck, and I’m sorry, but if you’ve dealt with Alzheimer’s or dementia at all in real life, you don’t need to ever watch a movie about it. Anyway, all that aside, I didn’t know anything about Stories We Tell before going into it. I actually didn’t even know it existed; my friend Henry picked it so we went.

And I totally missed the whole beginning of the movie. I think I perhaps tried to fit in a pre-movie previews nap without success. So I woke up to some confusion as to what was going on, which was thankfully quickly alleviated. When I awoke, Polley was interviewing her dad and I went, “Ohhhh, this is a documentary!” And not just a documentary, but one about her own family and her mother in particular. And over the course of the movie, Polley interviews her father, her four much older siblings and friends of the family and her mother’s, and what unfolds is a discovery about the truth of this time her mom left the family in Toronto and went to Montreal (to act in a play called Toronto, of all things) and the affair that lead to Sarah herself.

Big Spoilers, cause the huge twist of the movie is you spend the whole time between interviews watching what you’re meant to believe is home movie footage of the Polley family and Mama Polley’s time in Montreal. But as the movie resolves itself and Sarah’s reasons for making it are discussed, it’s revealed that none of it was actual footage at all, and it was actors portraying her mother, family and friends all along. And even though you spend the storieswetell2whole film wondering how they could have possibly had all of this footage and footage for every event discussed practically, you still believed it because the actress playing her mother looked so much like Sarah Polley herself and the little girl playing her too, especially already knowing what she looked like when she was young.

What really struck me about this movie was her in depth search into her own history and piecing together the truth from the different versions of the story each person would tell. It’s something I’ve done in my own life to a MUCH lesser extent, but in terms of my parents’ marriage, divorce and subsequent huge falling out and how it ties into my father’s remarriage. I don’t think I would ever want as much truth as Polley has delved into, but it’s a different situation entirely. Still I find it really interesting.

All that said, I totally fell asleep at the end of the movie too. And yet, I really didn’t feel like I missed much at all. And I was alive for the post-credits scene, which was ace.

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2/5 Sleeping Pants

Iron Man 3

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I really enjoyed Iron Man 3, but people I saw it with were making noise that it was better than the first one and I don’t know about that. I definitely would need to see it again in order to decide, especially since I missed all the backstory in the beginning.

I tried pretty hard to stay awake, but I missed a good chunk of the beginning. I really don’t remember much until Happy getting in the fight with the dudes at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. So after the movie we’re standing around talking about it, and I had to say, “Well, I really liked it, but, um, what was Guy Pierce’s motivation?”

That said, I enjoyed that it was a little more serious. I liked the PTSD from what happened in the Avengers, which sort of kept it nicely in the universe while still being very separate. Also I feel like that WOULD’ve been traumatic, but it’s not something you necessarily think about, especially in a superhero movie. A friend of mine was complaining about the overwhelming amount of Pepper in this movie and why does there have to be so much love interest all the time? But I thought that from day one with the posters, it was very clear that this was Pepper’s movie, and she really took a backseat in Iron Man 2, so that’s ok. I’m a little torn about her turn with superpowers, because even though the feminist in me wants a lady in these movies to fight for themselves, Pepper is sort of the wrong one to be a physical representation of that, and it’s not like these powers were something she wanted/was going to keep. Also it was just stupid when Tony has all these Iron Man prototypes flying around the place, that the ONE time he doesn’t use them is to save Pepper. Ugh. Also, Tony, I love you, but when is Pepper leaving you for Happy already?

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2/5 Sleeping Pants