Movies

Mako Mori, the Hero of Pacific Rim

Why I think Mako Mori is the hero of Pacific Rim.

Guillermo del Toro Talks Pacific Rim Sequel

I’ve been sitting on a Pacific Rim review because I want to organize my thoughts. And if I make it into the Geek & Sundry vlog channel, I want to do a review for that. But the short version is simple.

I. FUCKING. LOVED. EVERY. FUCKING. FRAME.

It’s such a great experience to see a culmination of so many things that I love come together in such a tight package.  Guillermo clearly knows his source material.  Pacific Rim is a love letter to kaiju and tokusatsu and I’m so happy that the studio just gave him a pile of money and let him run with it.

In this short interview with MTV, Guillermo talks about some of the ideas he has for a sequel.  The most compelling to me is a Kaiju/Jaeger hybrid, although really, after a nuclear explosion, I think most of Gypsy’s bits would have been vaporized.  But fuck it, we’re talking about a universe with kaiju invaders so I’m totally on board with a hybrid.  It actually makes sense to me.  The aliens would see Gypsy’s detonation as a declaration of war and would retaliate as quickly and viciously as they could.  They’ve already drifted with two human scientists so co-opting jaeger tech into the next round of kaiju makes a lot of sense.  Plus, they’ve created a bridge to our world before in the dinosaur era so it probably won’t take too long for them to create another bridge.  I just hope the nations of the world realize this and keep the jaeger program up to date.

Goddamn!  I’m so excited!!!  I hope the sequel gets greenlit soon!  I MUST HAVE MORE SWORD!

The Lone Failure

Why?

Adrienne K saw The Lone Ranger so the rest of us don’t have to and her scathing take down of the film post on Native Appropriations pretty much confirms all of my fears about this stinking pile of mess.

I’m not sure who this fucking thing was for.  There’s no nostalgia for this character for anyone under the age of 90.  Tonto was always going to be a problem.  In the radio show, he was the total embodiment of the Noble Savage caricature.  He’s not exactly a character I’d hold up as representative of my people were I Native American.  Casting Johnny Derp in the role is a final slap in the face to Native Americans.

Oh, but he’s one twentiethteenth Native– shut the fuck up!  No one thinks of him as Native anything.  If he truly stood up for Native representation, he would have backed down and told Disney to cast someone who doesn’t need a flow chart to prove they have some Native blood somewhere in their long lost ancestry.  The only good Depp has done in portraying this character is that it’s stirred up the conversation about Native representation in Hollywood.

In truth, judging from Adrienne’s review, it doesn’t seem like it would have mattered who was cast in the role.  Even if Tonto was portrayed by a Native actor, the movie would still fail to connect with audiences.  I’m kind of glad a Native actor wasn’t attached to this playing an insane caricature of his people.  We can point to it as a failure of substance rather than a failure of trying something new by casting a Native lead.  This was never going to be a movie that accurately portrayed Native anything.

From: Native Appropriations

Gatchaman Revival

It looks like Tori Matsuzaka’s time as Shinken Red has prepared him to defend the Earth as the leader of Space Ninja Team Gatchaman.  Man, this looks amazing!  The suits are a very sleek and stylized update of the anime version.  And the helmets give you a nice look at their beautiful faces as they kick the shit out of Galactor.

We’ll just ignore for now the moe pervy-chan anime update of Gatchaman and pretend that the live action is the only remake out there.

SMAUG!!!!!!!

Soooooooo I don’t remember Legolas being The Hobbit.  I’m guessing that his appearance is part of the whole Silmarillion stuff that I never read.  It’s weird because he looks a bit older.  Also, something about the colors in the thing seem really saturated and bright. It could be something to do with the conversion from 60fps to 24fps or some shit.  I don’t know, the shit looks weird.

But who cares! THERE’S A BIG FUCKING SHERLOCK SINGH DRAGON STALKING WATSON BAGGINS!!!!!!!!  And I’m fucking there!!  I can’t wait to see this in the theater, although I will be avoiding high frame rate like the plague.

Obliviously Boring Ever After

ObliviouslyEverAfter

Do you remember how absolutely bored you were while watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Well, I got two more movies to add to that list.

Back in December 2012, we were treated to some pretty exciting trailers for Oblivion and After Earth.  Both films looked like they could be a lot of fun.  Post apocalyptic Earth is always fun to explore.  The possibilities for us ruining our home are endless which make the genre fertile ground for planting seeds of excellent high concept science fiction.  I was really looking forward to both films.

Just like books and their fancy covers, you can’t judge a film by its trailer.  The trailers gave us futures full of mystery, danger, suspense.  The movies delivered absolute boredom.  So if you’re suffering from insomnia, pop one of these in your Blu Ray player and prepare for some excellent snooze time.

Not gonna bother with full on reviews of these dull ass movies, but there will be spoilers.

Obliviblaaaaahhhhhh

oblivionMehhhh

The sad thing about Oblivion is that there’s a good ass movie somewhere in there.  There’s a lot of really cool world building.  The slick clean look of the tech, the glass house in the clouds with the glass bottom pool, the giant water conversion sucker machines contrasted with the dilapidated artifacts of human civilization makes for some excellent visuals.  There’s a tremendous sense of isolation which slowly draws you in to the first half of the film.  Emphasis on slooooooooooooooow.

Unfortunately, the more time we spend with Tom Cruise’s character who I completely have forgotten and can’t bother to look up, the less interested we are in him.  By the time we’re introduced to the survivors lead by Morgan Freeman, we’re ready for an actual story.

Morgan Freeman is completely wasted.  We hardly get to spend time with the most interesting aspect of this film, the whole resistance movement.  How have they been living?  How have they survived? How have they rebuilt after the destruction of our world? Why were they left behind?  How does surface life contrast with life in the space colony in orbit or on Titan?  Were they left behind because they were social outcasts?  Why didn’t the movie start here?!

Sadly, the film insists on following Tom and sends him out again on a mission to discover the truth.  I suppose if we gave a shit about Tom, his search for self discovery would be interesting.  But besides his flashbacks to Earth 300 years ago, there isn’t a whole lot to him for us to relate to.  So when it’s revealed that he’s a clone and that there are a bunch of him running around, I kind of shrugged my shoulders.  Meh.

From there it becomes an action film with Tom and the resistance fighting against the drones with lots of shooting and ‘splosions and I couldn’t have cared less.

I wanted it to decide what kind of movie it wanted to be.  Do you want to be a tale of survival showing us the indomitable will of humanity?  Do you want to be a cautionary tale warning us to take care of our mother Earth?  Do you want to be a journey of self discovery?  It throws all three themes together and does none of them any justice.  Not to say you can’t do that, but in this case if Oblivion focused on only one of those themes, I think there was an excellent movie to be made.

After Meh

afterEarthBlahhhhhh

The twist to After Earth is that it’s deadly boring.  Will Smith is purposefully reserved to give his son the spotlight.  Sadly, Jaden’s character isn’t interesting enough to carry this movie.

This movie is about a father and son relationship in the guise of a post apocalyptic survival film.  It hinges on you giving a shit about Jaden and him living up to the expectations and reputation of his legendary father.  It’s almost too meta.

The movie wants to rush you into the survival part of the story so we get a very glossed over look at Jaden’s life.  We get a scene where he’s training, a scene where he’s rejected from the Ranger corp, a scene where his dad is mean face to him, and then we’re on a space plane headed for destiny.  It’s not nearly enough for us to build any rapport with Jaden so we’re almost completely detached from what follows.  And for a survival flick to work, you really need to be sucked into the situation with the character.  If we don’t care about him, we don’t care about the rabid apes chasing him through the trees.

Will Smith is completely pointless in this film.  He is supposed to be the man without fear, the first person to “ghost” which means he can pass near fear pheromone sniffing aliens without being seen.  The way he plays “fearless” is “emotionless” so we have a Will Smith who dead pans absolutely every line of dialog.  You can almost see him fall asleep as he’s talking.

This movie worked when it was called The Pursuit of Happiness.  We got an incredibly uplifting story with a deep father and son relationship.  Love practically oozed off the screen and into our hearts.  In After Earth, we get a father who emotionally detached from his family and a son who learns the ultimate technique of burying his emotions.  Congratulations.  Your message is that we need to bury our feelings in order to survive the apocalypse.  And I thought I was a cynical asshole.

Bored to Tears

I think Oblivion had more potential than After Earth.  But neither are enjoyable.  I suppose if you watched them streaming or on DVD, you’d have the added advantage of the fast-forward button.  You could probably watch both of them in a half hour and not really miss anything.

Here’s hoping that Pacific Rim can save us from the boring apocalypse.

Star Trek: Into Fan Service

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If the box office numbers are any indication, you’ve already seen Star Trek Into Darkness.  Probably a few times.  I’ll probably see it again.

I think it’s a great summer movie.  I love the new cast.  I think their interpretations of the characters are great.  I love that Spock and Uhura are a couple.  In general, I was pretty pleased with the 2009 reboot and very happy to spend more time with this cast.  And this is coming from a fairly die hard Trek fan.

I had been looking forward to seeing something new from the franchise and I felt, coming off of the 2009 high, that JJ Abrams was the man to do it.  Sadly, Into Darkness turned into a weird mashup of “Space Seed” and Wrath of Khan that doesn’t quite push the franchise forward.

KHAAAAAAAANNNNNNN

For once, I’m not going to get into the whitewashing of Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan is supposed to be Sikh.  Ricardo Montalbán was Latino.  Sooooo not quite right in the first place.  But my problem with Khan goes deeper than ethnicity.

For what it’s worth, I think Cumberbatch did a fine job as the villain.  His voice is so freaking scary   I think it would have been more cool if he was a super soldier developed by a secret branch of Starfleet gone rogue.  You could have still gone with the fear of war with the Klingons thread and I think it could have been a very strong story.  But by tying him to Trek history and desperately trying to placate Trek fans of old, the movie completely sabotages itself.

The exact moment when this film jumps into fanservice is when Leonard Nemoy appears on the screen.  Quinto Spock asks Spock Prime about Khan.  Spock Prime says, “Shit son, I can’t tell you stuff about my past. That shit will fuck up this already fucked up paradox.  But on the D/L?  Khan is an evil mother fucker.”  Yes. Thank you for that.  Vulcans must have become collectively dumber since the destruction of their home world in this new timeline because fucking seventeen year old Chekhov could have figured out that Khan is an evil prick!

Oh, but Spock Prime told Quinto Spock how to defeat Khan.  Bull, to the fucking, shit.  Nothing Quinto Spock does after this stupid vid chat with himself indicates any extra insight into Khan or how Kirk Kobayashi Maru’d his way out of Wrath.  It was all fan service, plain and simple.  And the only reason I can think of is that the scene is there to give us Trek faithful a fanboner.

Nope.

I nearly walked out.

My fists shook for the final act of the film as we saw Kirk and Spock switch their Wrath roles as Kirk goes into the dilithium chamber to realign the fucking thing with a karate kick to turn the engines back on.  The we get a reenactment of the famous scene with Spock in the chamber and Kirk on the outside and all the feels except this time Kirk is in the chamber and FOR FUCK’S SAKE I’VE SEEN WRATH, I’VE SEEN NEMESIS, I WANT SOME NEW SHIT!

Oh, and get this shit!  Instead of waiting a whole new movie to bring him back or just leave him dead, they bring him back to live with Khan’s blood.  So basically, New Trek has ended death.  And with no death, gone is any sense of drama. Spock dies in a lava fire?  Khan blood.  Sulu dies in a shuttle accident?  Khan blood.  Scotty drowns in a Jeffrey’s tube?  Khan blood.  Uhura gets stabbed with a Batleth?  Khan blood.  Tribble dead? Khan blood.  And instead of executing him, they put Khan on ice so now they have a Khan blood factory to tap anytime a Red Shirt bites it.  Red Shirt dies? KHAN MOTHER FUCKING BLOOD!  Fuck, Red Shirts should just be renamed Khan Shirts.

Still Gonna See It Again

It sometimes helps to go see a movie like this with someone who isn’t a huge fan of the old shit.  Audrey’s introduction to Trek was the 2009 reboot and she loved it.  She really enjoyed Into Darkness and though she noticed some of the geeky things I complained about, she had a good time with it.

And I have to say, even with my geek rage, I had a lot of fun seeing it on the big screen.  The good outweighs the bad.  And I actually want to see more from this cast and this universe.  I suspect that a third film will probably introduce a war with Klingons which could be a good way to break from previous Trek history depending on the outcome.  Although, I wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t go that way.  I really just want to see how far New Trek can push the franchise, break away from its roots, and really establish some new shit.  Fanservice is nice and all, but I think New Trek has a lot of potential yet to be explored.

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