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Article by Teddy Durgin

"Pacific Rim": Monsters Vs. Robots Vs. Advil

"Pacific Rim" isn't so much a movie as it is the big-screen equivalent of attending a heavy-metal concert, sitting through a monster-truck pull and riding a half-dozen roller coasters in a row. And I mean all together in the span of two hours! I can't say I enjoyed "Pacific Rim," folks. Yes, the spectacle is there. No one is going to go to this for great dialogue or a compelling plot or well-drawn characters. They're going for the great, big robots versus monsters throwdowns. Those scenes are there. Director Guillermo del Toro delivers a couple of truly fantastic fights. His creature design is impressive. The hardware on display will make James Cameron run to the theater men's room weeping and needing to be held. Here indeed is a CGI-effects fest that feels like actual beasts and machines with real weight and size dimensions duking it out. You feel each punch. You shutter and wince at every stomp, crash and fall. On a purely technical level, I am recommending this. With del Toro, though, I was expecting something a little more distinctive than a really souped-up "Godzilla" or "Transformers" movie. Yes, this is MILES removed from the old creature features in which men in monster suits smashed obviously fake model versions of Tokyo. But I honestly don't see "Pacific Rim" as being any better or worse than any of Michael Bay's "Transformers" movies. In fact, I still think Bay delivers spectacle overall better because SO many of his best sequences in those films take place in broad daylight. By contrast, all of the major sequences in this film take place at night in heavy rainstorms. Was it to hide the limitations of the effects? How can that be when the "Jurassic Park" movies delivered completely believable CGI dinosaurs walking around in the sun back in the 1990s and, yes, the "Transformers" gave us fantastically detailed fighting robots also enjoying a few rays while smashing cities. I was also surprised at how badly acted much of this film is. I would estimate that at least 60 percent of the dialogue is screamed during the course of this flick. And I don't mean just the scenes where the actors have to yell their lines over the monster roars, the buildings falling (Lord, am I tired of watching computer-generated buildings falling!), the rain and the howling winds. There are numerous scenes where the cast members just stand around hollering at each other like crazy people. Charlie Day, in particular, is just outright bad in this movie as a geeky scientist who is so shrill in his histrionics that they might as well have cast Gilbert Gottfried. Idris Elba's General, meanwhile, adopts a silly cadence in which he'll start out most sentences talking perfectly normal. Then, for dramatic importance, he'll SCREAM HIS LAST FIVE WORDS!!! On the plus side, the two leads - Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi - are solid throughout. Kikuchi, in particular, impresses as a young woman who lost her whole family in a monster attack years earlier who has trained her whole life to pilot a giant robot and get revenge. Hey, we've all been there, right? Regardless, she's like a character out of a Tarantino video-store-clerk daydream, and I liked her immensely. Hunnam, meanwhile, skillfully avoids being this year's Taylor Kitsch. So, a mixed bag. I'll admit, I might have blockbuster fatigue at this point. It used to be Hollywood did a better job spacing out its special-effects extravaganzas over the course of each summer. Instead, I feel deluged. I miss the feeling of coming out of these types of flicks exhilarated and eager to take the ride again. I came out of "Pacific Rim" feeling pummeled and the only thing I was eager to do the next morning was pop a couple more Advil.

"Pacific Rim" is rated PG-13 for intensed sci-fi action and violence throughout and brief language.

 

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