Monsters and Machines

After a brief work forced break, Movie Season is back in swing. I went to go see Monsters University yesterday. I’m not even going to bother reviewing it. I was so disappointed, that I’m giving it an incomplete. You can do better Disney/Pixar, I have seen your potential and this does not meet it. No one can hit a home run every at bat, but I expect at least a fly out from you. (A Bug’s Life would be an example.) This was a walk.

Moving on, today I saw Pacific Rim.

Look How Epic!

Look How Epic!

I am going to spend the rest of the summer asking people if they’ve seen Pacific Rim and if they haven’t telling them to go see it immediately. I was sure that it was going to be a stupid action movie about giant robots that fight giant sea monsters.

I was surprised.

Not because it wasn’t that. This is absolutely a stupid action movie about giant robots that fight giant seas monsters. But here’s the thing, it’s a very very good stupid action movie about giant robots that fight giant sea monsters.

It had a decently original story, compelling characters who you want to win, killer action and special effects, great comic relief and Charlie Hunnam’s abs.

It has all the makings of a classic.

Let’s start with the premise. The idea is that a space time rift opened deep in the Pacific Ocean, through that rift came giant monsters, quickly named Kaiju, the Japanese word for “strange beast.” In order to fight the Kaiju, which mindlessly destroyed San Francisco, Manila and a city in Japan I can’t remember that name of, mankind got their shit together and built giant robots manned by two people, called Jaegers.

We are told all of this in a brief flashback and voice over sequence by Charlie Hunnam’s character Raliegh Becket. Now, I watch Son’s of Anarchy so I know that when Charlie Hunnam does a voice over, we’re about to be lunged into a world of violent confusion. Of course, unlike Jax Teller, Raliegh is just kind of a regular Joe who it turns out is really good at piloting Jaegers with his brother Yancy. The brothers are the best of friends and go kill monsters and then Yancy dies.

In his grief, Raliegh leaves the Jaeger program, just as it’s being shut down to divert funding to a giant wall that’s being built around the Pacific Rim. Raliegh works building the wall. Five years later he’s recruited back in to the scrappy resistance of left over Jaegers and pilots by Marshall Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba. (Great names in this movie) He heads to Hong Kong reluctantly, he wants to help save the world, but he also kind of wants to be left alone. Hunnam plays laid back California Dude so well that it’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s actually a Brit.

Once in Hong Kong, enter those characters I was talking about. Raliegh and Pentecost would be interesting enough on their own, but once we get to the base we meet Mako Mori, a young Japanese survivor of a Kaiju attack, who was raised by Pentecost and wants to become a Jaeger pilot. Mako is played wonderfully by Rinko Kikuchi and the chemistry between her and Hunnam is staggeringly great. The scene where they spar with one another to test their compatibility is one of the sexiest scenes I’ve seen in a while. We also meet an Australian Father-Son Duo, Herc and Chuck Hansen. Chuck is a militant ass hole who decides to spend as much time as possible antagonizing Raliegh.

Now if there’s one thing I’ve learned in five seasons of SOA it’s that if you want to get your skull bashed in, you can insult Charlie Hunnam’s brothers or his woman. Chuck does both. So they do reach a point where they beat the snot out of each other.

On the other end, doing what I’ve decided to call “The Goldblum Work” are Dr. Newton Geiszler and Dr. Herman Gottlieb played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman respectively, are trying to figure out a way to stop the Kaiju’s from getting through the rift. Gottlieb has a practically perfect formula for predicting the frequency of the attacks, but they can’t explain why they keep getting closer and closer.

When the Jaegers are piloted, the pair in them sort of merge in a mind meld called a drift. Newt decides to drift with a Kaiju to figure out more about them. He does so, and the plot reveals itself.

Ron Perlman plays a black market dealer of Kaiju body parts named Hannibal Chau (A name he chose from his favorite historical figure and his second favorite Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn) who Newt tracks down to find him a second Kaiju brain. This is fun for me, especially when Pentecost tells him absolutely not to trust Chau. (I wanted to scream “Clay is a lying liar who lies!” at the screen, but it was a pretty intense moment that I didn’t want to ruin.) Sadly, Perlman and Hunnam never cross paths, and we certainly don’t get to see them glower at one another and make vague threats. Missed  opportunity.

I really wanted this movie to be good for Charlie Day’s sake. The man is absurdly talented, as anyone who has ever watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia can tell you. But I expected him to be great.

I didn’t expect Hunnam to be much good at all. Mostly because for the past couple of seasons on SOA he’s done little but growl and chew scenery. He blew me away. Perhaps it was low expectations, but he played the mostly light and optimistic Raliegh very well. And without his scruffy beard, biker club ink and long hair, he looked about ten years younger. Also his voice didn’t drop into a whisper to cover his accent at all. Which is huge. He, Ed Westwick and Robert Pattinson are masters of this technique.

Basically, this was probably the best of the movies I’ve seen all summer. I’m bummed it didn’t do as well in the box office as expected, but I’m hoping it’ll be a sleeper hit and come out strong. So, now we rank.

1. Pacific Rim

2. The Great Gatsby

3. Man of Steel

4. Iron Man 3

5. Star Trek Into Darkness

6. Monsters University (I won’t even review it, it was still better than After Earth)

7. After Earth

Trailers:

I have two movies worth of trailers to cover and a good amount of new stuff:

There is going to be a movie where Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson voice turkeys who go back in time to change the Thanksgiving menu coming out in November. It will be called Free Birds. I will not be paying money to see this movie. I would love to see a straight up time travel comedy starring these two actors.

The Frozen teaser was everything I hoped it would be and more. Sure, we didn’t see new Princess Anna, but we did meet her magical friends, a talking snowman and a reindeer who seem to befriend one another. If it’s anything like Tangled, will love every minute of this movie.

The new trailer for The Wolverine actually made me want to see it for once, instead of just dragging my butt there out of obligation. If Logan is really having nightmares about Jean (who was in Phoenix form when he killed her, don’t forget) this could bode very well for the X-Men franchise and of course for Days of Future Past.

I need to read Ender’s Game. I’m going to the beach next week. I’ll probably take it with me. I’m just so psyched that Harrison Ford has decided to be in movies again. And I love Octavia Spencer.

New Elysium trailer that reveals more plot details. So psyched for that one.

I could watch the Thor: The Dark World trailer on loop. It’s so good. The movie may wind up being a big stinking turd, but it’s a perfect trailer.

It doesn’t matter how many movies they stick the Gravity trailer before. I will not go see that movie.

I got choked up during the brilliantly edited The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary reissue trailer. Also, when did Warner Brothers acquire it from MGM? Is MGM even a thing anymore? It seems unlikely that they’d let The Wizard of Oz go if they were.

That’s all for now! Thinking of lightening up a little next week and checking out Despicable Me 2 or The Heat. Stay tuned!

 

 

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