Pacific Rim

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”)
Written by: Travis Beacham (“Clash of the Titans”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)

You’re here to know if watching giant robots duke it out with colossal monsters using state-of-the-art special effects, leveling city blocks in the process, is as incredibly cool as you hoped it would be, right? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. On that front, “Pacific Rim” delivers and delivers big. From the opening scenes featuring a Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast,” think Godzilla on steroids) taking out the Golden Gate Bridge to a mid-movie showdown wherein a particularly nasty Kaiju takes a beating from an oil tanker-wielding Jaeger (German for “hunter,” otherwise known as the huge robots humanity built to kick Kaiju butt), director Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget monster movie is pure fun when the massive fists are flying.

“Pacific Rim” opens in the not-too-distant future. The Kaiju attack on the Golden Gate Bridge was just the beginning. More and more monsters rose from the deep, traveling to our world through a trans-dimensional portal known as The Breach. After conventional weapons took far too long to defeat the beasts, humanity shook off all previous conflicts and joined forces to build the Jaegers. Controlled by two pilots mind-melded together in a process called The Drift, the Jaegers successfully beat back the Kaiju…until the Kaiju came back with a vengeance and the Jaegers were declared ineffective and set to be decommissioned in favor of a massive seawall. Under the command of Marshal Pentecost (Idris Elba), the last remaining Jaegers will mount a final offensive against the Kaiju with the fate of the human race hanging in the balance.

While del Toro turns in top-notch action, the story threading it all together tends to feel routine and pieced-together from a bunch of stuff you’ve seen before. Echos of “Avatar” resonate through these scenes, from dead brothers to joining minds to piloting giant, well, avatars, it all seems too familiar. A sense of strangeness seeping through the seams keeps things interesting, though. Characters are named things like Stacker Pentecost, Hercules Hansen, and Hannibal Chau, and the Jaegers sport nonsensical code names like Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka. Del Toro tosses in little details to build this world that might keep you from glancing at your watch too much when there aren’t any skyscraper-crushing battles onscreen. But when the titans start clashing, “Pacific Rim” is everything a kid who grew up with a steady diet of Godzilla and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would ever want in a film.

Clash of the Titans

April 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
Directed by: Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk”)
Written by: Travis Beacham (“Dog Days of Summer”), Phil Hay (“Aeon Flux”), Matt Manfredi (“Aeon Flux”)

“Clash of the Titans” is the type of movie where overblown ideas are enough to get a studio to pull the trigger on a production. Disregard a descent script; gigantic scorpions should be just enough to keep the box office bustling for a while.

While adding big-budget special effects to 1981’s kitschy Ray Harryhausen-inspired cult classic might be passable for teenage boys waiting on the next “Transformers” installment, anyone actually interested in the mythological context of our heroes and villains will be hard-pressed to uncover an actual dramatic narrative to go along with the raging CGI and lax 3-D images. If studios were looking for someone to be interchangeable with Michael Bay, they may have found him in director Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Transporter 2”). Leterrier – along with his trio of screenwriters – offers some escapism, but fails to deliver much more than the stock epic standard.

In “Clash,” Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) plays Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) who wages war against Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his Underworld minions. Hades has killed Perseus’s mortal family and is conjuring up some trouble for his brother Zeus on Mount Olympus. He has also threatened to unleash a massive sea monster known as the Kraken on the people of Argos if they do not kill the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos).

Chaos reigns for the most part in “Clash” as Leterrier sidesteps any real characterization when introducing us to the men (and one woman) on Perseus’s crew. Gemma Arterton plays the lone female warrior Io, who is also Perseus’s spiritual guide. The rest of the cast has about as much personality as a colossal Greek column. Even Worthington, when he’s not flanked by computer-generated creatures, couldn’t be labeled much more interesting than any of the oiled-up heroes in “Troy” or those in the original “Clash” for that matter.

If watching Perseus chop the head off the slithery Medusa, ride a Black Stallion version of the Pegasus, or duke it out with the Kraken is enough, have at it (save some cash and watch it in 2-D though. The updated 3-D version is a mere marketing ploy and does nothing for the action sequences). If, however, you’re looking for even the slightest bit of cohesive storytelling, “Clash” is a mediocre entry into the fantasy genre. Medusa might turn men into stone with one glance, but Leterrier and company are just as guilty of turning it into a movie as dumb as a bag full of rocks.