I Loved The Pacific Rim!

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Ever once in a great while I get the feeling that movie producers green lit a project just for me, and Pacific Rim is one of those movies.  For those of you that do not know Pacific Rim is the giant robot versus giant monster movie came out this weekend.  It is written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).

A giant rift in space has opened up and monsters called Kaiju are coming through, and to destroy the Kaiju the world has created Jaegers, giant robots to destroy the threat.  The Jaegers take so much brain power to control that it needs two pilots to join their minds using ‘the rift’ that lets you see all the other pilots memories.  Usually family are used due to them already understanding each other.  The movie follows one such pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), and his rookie co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) as they try to beat the crap out of the Kaiju that want to destroy our world.

This film features a lot of action movie tropes, the washed up pilot that needs to pull it together, the young dangerous rookie that could be something special, the jerky top pilot that worries the other guys are going to get him killed, and many more.  Usually that would be a downside for me, but del Toro uses them with such glee that it is more of an homage then lazy writing.  Because he actually does tell a decent story through it all with some good characterization, but he knows we were all in that theater for one thing, and that is some awesome monster battles, and this movie does not disappoint.

The monsters in this movie are massive, and while they all look similar in style, each one is different and has its own look, and just like the story the Kaiju are like a greatest hits of giant monsters, you will find all of your favorite city destroyers in there.  The robots are treated with equal love.  Each one seems like it was picked out of my favorite Japanese cartoon and delivered on screen, and when they clash, real movie magic happens.  This is a movie that needs to be seen in theaters.

The way he shot the movie was brilliant.  The scenes with humans are all nicely framed, but when he shoots the monsters or robots you get the feeling that he is craning the camera up, but he still can’t get tham all in one shot.  They are just too big.  It was the first time in a long time I wanted a bigger screen to try and fit these beast in, and yes I know that is not how movies work, but tell that to your brain as you watch the movie, or don’t, your brain is having a great vacation and it is best not to bother him.

The actors know their jobs.  This movie is not about them, but del Toro gives them fun lines, and good scenes to work in.  Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman add the comedy as Hannibal Chau, Dr. Newton Geizler, and  Dr. Hermann Gottlieb respectively.  They are great and do not waste their screen time.  Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost is as commanding as always, and I would following him to battle giant monsters any day.  Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Hunnam do a good job leading this picture.

This movie is straight up fun, and it was designed to be.  It is refreshing not have some gritty down to earth story that the new Batman movies told all blockbusters that they need to be now.  No, this movie is an expression of joy, and it was Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to my thirteen year old self, and guess what del Toro, he loves you too!

I Like 3D In Movies, But It Still Needs To Go!

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I like 3D in movies.  One of my favorite movies from last year Dredd 3D was obviously in 3D, and it was fantastic, but it is time for the technology to move on.  It used to be fun and only on certain movies, but they recently tried to convince us that we needed to see The Great Gatsby in 3D.  It was a story about the 20’s for crying out loud.

Movies like Dredd and Avatar were meant to be seen in 3D because the directors thought about that process, and made them with 3D in mind, but most movies are not that way.  They take a 2D movie and post-process it to add the effect, and for the most part you can’t even tell except that the movie is fuzzy if you try and take your glasses off.  The only reason they do this is to jack the ticket price up, and since movies already cost north of $12 a ticket it is a little ridiculous.

If they only used 3D every now and then it would great and I would still be happy with the technology, but it has gone too far, and it is time for studios to do the right thing and reduce the amount of 3D movies they release.  It is too expensive and they are destroying their customer’s good will.

Shmee Survives World War Z!

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World War Z is a big budget zombie movie produced and stared in by Brad Pitt.  Before its release it was known for its exploding costs and script rewrites, and then the ending tested so poorly that they had to totally scrap it and film a new one at the last minute, but it seemed to turn out okay provided that you didn’t want a movie that resembled the book.

The story follows a former UN investigator Garry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he travels the globe looking for the cure to the zombie plague ravaging the world, so that the UN boat that is looking after his family doesn’t kick them off.

The plot is simple, but since it is a zombie movie that is to be expected.  The zombies in this movie are a mix between 28 Days Later and its PG13 sensibilities, so fast and scary looking but without being gruesome, unlike most of the creatures from their genre.  The special effects are good with the zombies looking the part, and the huge zombie waves attacking human strongholds are well done.

It is interesting that parts of this movie that work the best are not the large epic fights, but the close quarters with zombies hiding in the dark scenes, and while the large set pieces do add scope, they loose a lot of the tension.  There is nothing better than a person with their back against the wall trying to survive against these relentless foes.

I like this movie, and it says a lot about how the public feels about zombies these days that the market can sustain such a large scale project, but at the end the day the reason it works are the old school zombie scares.

The Return of the Man of Steel

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The Man of Steel is one of 2013’s tentpole blockbusters.  It was produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), and directed by Zack Snyder (300).  DC/Warner Bros is pinning all its super hero movie hopes on this movie, and I think that they mostly succeeded.

The movie is about an alien from a dying world, who was sent to Earth to be saved from the end of his planet by his loving parents.  He is taken in and loved by an Earth couple even as he struggles to figure out who he is, and his place in this world.  I am of course talking about Superman (Henry Cavill).  His soul searching has to end when a threat from his home world comes to threaten Earth.

The problem with this plot is that since Superman’s origins are so well known that there are not a lot of surprises to be had in this story.  We know all about Superman even if we have never picked up a comic book in our life, but since they decided to do a total reboot, we got to watch it all over again.

All that being said, I still liked this movie.  Zack Snyder once again proves that he is a special effects genius, because this movie looks great, and the action it produces is top notch, and there is something fun about Superman learning to be Superman, and having him being guided by his two fathers Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner).  They shape his life and lead him to being the man in the blue tights.

I know that some people were upset about the body count at the end of the movie, and it is quite high, but I think that Sups is new to the game and he is doing the best he can.

This was not the greatest movie ever, and I think that since the Batman movies were so good that is going to hurt Man of Steel, but I think it is still a fine movie, and one that sets up the franchise quite well.  I just hope they can write a story we haven’t seen next time.  If you want another take on the movie my buddy Daniel gave it a watch was well.

Star Trek Into Darkness!

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Star Trek Into Darkness is the twelfth Star Trek movie, and the second that features the recast original crew of the Enterprise in their alternate reality.  J.J. Abrams was once again the director of this film, but can it live up to the hype following the last film? Not quite, but it is still pretty darn good.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to brake the Prime Directive of not interfering with primitive cultures to save Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano, and has his command taken away from him, but only to get it back again to go after the terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).  That is about as much of the story as I can tell you without spoiling anything, and trying not spoil things is also why it will be hard for me to explain why this movie wasn’t as good as the last one, but I will do my best.

The main problem I have with this movie is that script makes us believe that a very dumb chain of events happened to kick off the plot of this movie, and you don’t get see how dumb they are until the end of the film, and this seems to be something that writer Damon Lindelof struggles with since he was charged with the same offence with Prometheus.  But he did get the character interaction right.

Despite the lens flares, I think J.J. Abrams does a great job directing this film, and he keeps the pace up so you never get to sit and think about the dumbness of Lindelof’s script until after the movie is over, and everything looks and feels great.

The actors once again prove that they were selected to fill their roles well.  The swagger of Chris Pine as Jim Kirk, the irritating logic of Quinto as Spock, and the bromance they develop is great.  Karl Urban is excellent as the Bones we have all come to know and love, and they way the crew interacts with one another is pitch perfect.  Cumberbatch as the villain does his job, but I wish they the would have used him better.

I liked this movie, and without a doubt Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness are the best back to back Star Trek movies yet, but I wish in the four years it took to bring this movie to theaters that they would have tightened up the story a bit, but as it is it is still well worth watching.