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So it’s been kinda slow recently, at least movie wise, and a bit busy elsewhere. I skipped everything that came out on the 19th (not a horror fan, didn’t see Red, behind on all the animated films, and I’ll rent RIPD eventually), and instead took my cousin to see Pacific Rim, of which I’ll add some additional thoughts below.

For now though, I believe it’ll be a lot of art house stuff and the few remaining big summer films to see (The Wolverine is forth coming, for example). I’ll try and start getting caught up on other movies too from earlier this year. Also, I’m slowly getting through season two of Deep Space 9, which is becoming a chore because it’s terrible but it’s Star Trek so I have to do it (and because I want to write about it anyway). I’m roughly two-thirds through now, so expect that Looking Back feature at some point in August.

Anyway, enough about random stuff. Here’s Arnie quoting one liners.

Why the heck did I miss this when it came out? Ugh I’m the worst.

It’s a good, fun film. Yeah, it’s B-movie all over, but holy crap it’s good. I haven’t seem Kim Ji-woon previous films, though I should check them out (he did The Good, the Bad, and the Weird if I remember correctly), since his American debut is good.

In short, Arnie plays Ray Owens, an old sheriff, in Somerton, Arizona, when a few unfriendlies arrive in town. They’re there to help a major cartel boss, Cortez, cross the border to Mexico to escape US authorities. Arnie finds out, and sets up the town, along with a few deputies, to block that crossing until the FBI arrive.

It’s as straightforward as it gets, and it’s great fun along the way. The writing is good, with Arnie getting the bulk of the amusing one liners, though Knoxville, who I thought would be annoying, is pretty hilarious in it, playing a gun collector with some sweet weapons in his disposal. There are a couple other characters in it, but they’re all decent, and they all stand apart as their own.

There’s a lot of action pieces scattered throughout the film, from Cortez escape from the FBI through the Arizona desert, to the stand off in Somerton and the final beat down on the canyon crossing. The sequence in Somerton is the highlight of the film, as Arnie and the deputies face off against Cortez getaway crew. It’s done well, with the action being kept strictly on the town’s Main Street and a few businesses that are along that street. It’s probably one of the better sequences this year.

So all in all, a good, fun movie with some great Arnie moments. I’m sad I missed it when it came out, but I’m glad I got to see it now. It’s out on VOD and DVD now, so definitely check it out.

I saw Pacific Rim a second time, taking my 12-year-old cousin with me.  He loved the film, and the first thing he asked about was about the kaiju and if they were men in suits.  Pretty perceptive in noting the design of the kaiju.

We saw it in 2D this time (opening night was IMAX 3D so we could get those awesome posters), and the main difference was the color, being a bit more brighter.  Oh, and the sound quality wasn’t as loud (this is IMAX we’re taking about; the volume just hitting you in the face hard).  My thoughts on the film didn’t change much: the story is still simple and relies a little too much on the Mako Mori drift scenes.  That Hong Kong sequence is still fantastic though, and probably the best action sequence this year in any film.

What it probably succeeds in well too was that it’s a perfect film for a 12-year-old, or any child with an imagination.  Raleigh Beckett said it perfectly early on, when they’re in the Jaeger, they can fight anything, including a hurricane.  It’s being able to not feel small, and being able to take on something larger and stronger than you with something large and strong for yourself.  But it’s also taking this film and finding a spark, something that’ll allow a child or teen to say “I can make this” and then learn how to make this kind of thing.  Hell, I find the 12-year-old in me wanting to learn how to make movies, and to make them enjoyable, but also to have something to say too, something about humanity.

This is probably why I loved Pacific Rim as much as I did.  If there weren’t so many things to see right now, I’d check it out a third time.  There’s always DVD though, and I’ll come back again and again when it does show up.


Jaeger VS Kaiju battle begins now!

It finally took over half of the summer, but we finally reached the big blockbuster that’s just as good as Iron Man 3, and probably better at times too.  Pacific Rim is massive, and it’s great and it’s fun.

The story is simple: kaiju have invaded Earth, and in response, humanity has built large machines called Jaegers, piloted by two people who are mind-melded together through a synchronization process called the Drift.  Humanity wins a lot of battles early on, but as the war wears on, the kaiju are getting bigger, and they’re adapting to the Jaegers.  The war has entered its twelfth year, with the Pacific rim countries building a giant wall to keep out the kaiju.  The Jaegers are no longer appealing, and the remaining four are moved to Hong Kong.

The characters are all pretty good, with enough background details and distinctive personalities to distinguish themselves from other characters.  Raleigh Becket is the retired pilot of Gipsy Danger, called back into service one last time.  Stacker Pentecost leads the Jaeger program and devises a plan to end the war.  Mako Mori is Pentecost’s assistant and a rookie when it comes to piloting.  Dr Newton Geizler and Dr Hermann Gottleib work with the program to study how the kaiju operate.  Hannibal Chau is a black market dealer of kaiju organs and body parts.  And Herc and Chuck Henson are the father-son team of Eureka Striker, the Australian Jaeger.  Each of them have arcs that resolve in one way or another.  Everyone playing them is great, especially Charlie Day, who, as Geizler, is not as obnoxious as you’d expect him to be.  Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi, is probably the strongest realized female character this summer, though it doesn’t get to be that way until a little late in the film because of how certain reveals were handled.  The story does focus on her a lot though, especially during her first Drift synchronization.  It’s here that certain things are learned, which again, could have been explained a bit sooner.

The action, of course, is the big draw, and it doesn’t disappoint.  There are really only three major Jaeger/kaiju sequences (Gipsy Danger vs Knifehead, the Hong Kong attack, and the final battle), but they’re all staged wonderfully.  The Hong Kong sequence is definitely the best in the whole film (and probably one of the best action sequences filmed this year[1]) and perfectly captures both how the Jaegers and kaiju move and fight, but also how any major action sequence should be done.  There is no lost sense of place or scale with the fighting, especially when it moves into Hong Kong itself and Gipsy Danger first takes on the kaiju Leatherback, and then Otachi.  There is a lot of destruction, but people do escape in shelters when an attack occurs (there are a couple times that I recall that there is talk of, or people actually going to, underground shelters to escape the attacks).  Compare that to other films this summer and the careless disregard for human life; it’s almost refreshing to see that some characters do give a damn.

I loved this film.  It isn’t dark and cynical and it doesn’t actively hate its audience.  It’s simple and straightforward, and not a convoluted mess of a film.  It knows the story it wants to tell and it does it well, and it has important things to say too.  But most importantly, it’s fun, and along with Iron Man 3, probably the best blockbuster film to show up this summer, and the most fun you’ll have too.  And I think that has been missing a lot this summer, the grand sense of fun that everyone should enjoy.

This is a movie that I will gladly see two or three times in theaters.  It’s that damn good.

[1] Iron Man 3 actually has two or three really good sequences that are also some of the year’s best.  All hail Shane Black.

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