Pacific Rim Review

18 07 2013



Guys: imagine the movie you always wanted to make as a kid with your action figures. Ladies: imagine the movie you’ll have to watch with your boyfriend to make up for all those Twilight forced viewings. Pacific Rim is one of those movies that scan only come from boyhood fantasies- and director Guillermo del Toro has admitted as much in interviews. Basically, the kaiju (Godzilla’s extended family) start attacking periodically from a rift in the Pacific Ocean, so humanity constructs Jaegers (Transformers on steroids) to take them out, because reasons. Look, I’m not going to pretend this is Shakespeare.


Stacker Pentecost Pacific Rim

       Best in movie. And to think I hated his character in The Office.


To nobody’s surprise, Pacific Rim doesn’t have the most original story. The plot really doesn’t have any twists to spoil- this is a straight-up giant-robots-vs.-giant-monsters action fest, and the film never plays it any other way (although seeing its take on culture’s reactions to real monsters was interesting). Some movies are just made for spectacle, not substance. And that’s a good thing. The special effects are great; the 3D  actually helps, and to be honest an overly complicated plot or deep message would just get in the way of the film’s purpose (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence). I remember getting happy chills in the crazy opening shot of an outrageously massive creature looming over the San Francisco bridge.


Kaiju Jaegers Battle

Pictured: The reason to watch this movie.


What is hard to swallow, however, are some of the overused character tropes and the shoehorned romance subplot. Take a look at the picture below. Do I even have to tell you they’re going to become some type of couple? That maybe they have to get over their differences first and “prove their worth?” If this spoiled the surprise for you, you just failed Common Movie Themes 101. Withdrawal forms are available in the back of the classroom. To be honest, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi weren’t annoying as, say, other action movie main characters, nor were they bad actors. They just didn’t have much to work with. Basically, when the characters’ little subplots were happening, all I could think about were when the epic monster-robot fights in the ocean and cities would come back. Some side trails were just a little too long (random scientists, I’m looking at you guys).  Idris Elba‘s character Pentecost would be the one exception for me personally- I enjoyed every scene he appeared in (not to mention he delivered every quotable line in the film).


Pacific Rim Cast

Just be glad it’s not Shia Lebeouf and Megan Fox


To conclude, Guillermo del Toro has out-Michael-Bay’d Michael Bay. This is more extravagant, impressive, and dare I say grown up than Transformers (not that that’s hard to do). What do I mean by that? Well, there are no Shia Lebeouf’s, Megan Fox’s, racist robots, peeing robots, robot privates, awkward moments, and did I mention Shia Lebeouf isn’t in this film? Okay, maybe I just don’t like Shia Lebeouf (or any other actor in those travesties). In short, this movie knows what it wants to be and sticks to it. Get the guys together, see it in 3D, and high-five repeatedly- the kid in you will be grateful.


In Summary.

 Good thing this joke isn’t dated.


The Lone Ranger Review

4 07 2013

wallpaper lone ranger depp

Hi-ho, Johnny Depp, it’s Pirates of the Old West! Captain Jack Sparrow returns, this time pretending to be a Native American (which would probably be offensive if it was anyone else besides Depp). But seriously, this is more Pirates than The Lone Ranger as far as pacing, characters, historical accuracy, explosive sets, and background stories (absolutely everything has a background story, even a fake leg) are concerned.  In other words, it’s a Bruckheimer/Verbinski film. But does this movie strike gold or fire blanks? (Sorry).

There was a lot of build-up for this movie. There was an absurd amount of build-up for this movie. Look back at the last few months of my reviews- literally every single one of those movies had a Lone Ranger trailer before the showing, and there’s quite a bit of variety in these movie genres. I was already sick of some moments a month before seeing the actual film, which is unfortunate. Even more unfortunate is how spoiler-ish the trailers are, revealing key moments and plot points from every single chapter of the film, from opening to finale. So yeah, thanks for those stolen surprises, Disney.

Johnny Depp's original costume.

Johnny Depp’s original costume.

One actual surprise is how well the Lone Ranger John Reid (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Johnny Depp) worked together. In anyone else’s hands, the characters could have come across as unlikeable and clueless (Reid) and loopy (Tonto). Also, William Fichtner as villain Butch Cavendish makes a legitimately creepy villain, but honestly he feels like he was written for a different movie.

lone ranger villain poster

The villain who steals your heart.

The reason I say that is most of the movie consists of Johnny Depp being weird, over-the-top action sequences, buddy humor between the leads, and Johnny Depp being funny. And then we have a scene (MILD SPOILERS) where all the good guys get gunned down by the villain, who then cuts the heart out of a screaming good guy, and then eats it, shown through reflections in the brother’s eye. Whoa, kiddos, why aren’t you laughing anymore? Talk about a mood swing. Another scene has Native Americans, in a new creative twist, getting gunned down dramatically by corrupt American Army soldiers. As they fall, we keep cutting back to Johnny Depp comically doing something comic- in other words, this movie has wildly inconsistent tones. Maybe the recurring line “nature is out of balance” was referring to the screenwriters.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Red, who in summary is one of the film’s throwaway characters. This would be fine, except they used Helena Bonham for the throwaway role- she gets barely any screen time here (unfortunately). The other underdeveloped character award goes to the Calvary officer (Barry Pepper), who basically is there because the editor forgot to cut out all his parts.

The Female Johnny Depp

The female Johnny Depp

Ultimately, the only standout, memorable part for most people will be the final train sequence, due in large part to Zimmerman’s thunderous rendition of the “William Tell Overture.” Here, we get all the slick action hijinks promised (and spoiled) in the trailers. Between dueling train tracks and Reid riding his horse Silver on top of and inside the train cars, things finally get fun- but then the sequence ends. Cue a random ending scene using the random Old Tonto framing gimmick, and you realize how much better this movie could have been.

World War Z Review

1 07 2013

What is this movie about again?

It’s interesting to see how mainstream zombie flicks have become. In the past, a zombie movie was a place for a struggling new actor or actress to finally gain screen time, even if it meant dying horribly at the hands of some undead postal worker. Yet here we are, with The Walking Dead standing tall in television, and World War Z boasting A-lister Brad Pitt. But can he breathe life (ho! ho!) into it, or does it stumble along, preying on the audience’s wallet?

The answer depends on what kind of viewer you are. First off we have The Gore N’ Guts Aficionado. If you failed to see the PG-13 rating, and you’re one of those people who roars and high-fives your cheering friends every time a zombie gets thrown into a wood chipper in slow motion, this may seem a little restrained to you. Don’t get me wrong- stuff happens that could make lesser-hearted people (like myself) cringe, but it’s one of those films that assumes the audience can fill in the blanks much better than gross-out CGI/makeup effects can. In my opinion, that’s the harder scare to deliver- and there are a few scares to be had in World War Z.

World war z brad pitt new york

Why not to go shopping on Black Friday.

The second person who apparently feels bummed while sitting in this theater is our friend The Book Purist. Not only has he already read the book, but would like the movie to be exactly the same. However, just because something is “inspired” by a best-seller doesn’t mean you can expect to write a successful book report off the movie- heck, just look at movies “inspired by real events.” I haven’t read World War Z, but I gather it follows several individuals across the world, instead of one individual’s story traveling across the world. While that works well in the novel or say, a television series, sometimes too many characters/individual stories muddies up the movie recipe (hello, Cloud Atlas). In my view, keeping a tight focus on Brad Pitt’s journey was more effective.

star trek zombie picard meme


Basically, if you’re still left in the room, you’ll probably enjoy World War Z– it’s an interesting look at what would happen during a global pandemic (in this case zombies), and how the separate countries find their own ways to solve it (or try to solve it). Pitt’s great (and I’m not always his biggest fan), the CGI is there, but it’s effective, and there’s a bit more thought and love that went into this than your standard brain-eater flick.