Tag Archives: Guillermo del Toro

On second thought: ‘Pacific Rim’

This bad boy makes deep-sea fishing an adventure.

This bad boy makes deep-sea fishing an adventure.

What I thought of Pacific Rim after my initial viewing: I thought it sucked up one side and down the other. The human performances were lacking at best. The fight scenes were slow, clunky and uninteresting. Not a fan.

What I think of Pacific Rim after my second viewing: I’ve softened a bit on the Jaeger-Kaiju fights. I think I was heavily biased due to my distaste for the Transformers franchise, a quartet of flicks that specialize in fight scenes that are mostly just metal clashing at high speed. The hand-to-hand nature of Jaeger-Kaiju combat came across better on second viewing, and the sheer enormity of the robots and creatures made the scale of the fisticuffs that much more impressive.

However, I’m still largely unimpressed by the human performances. Charlie Day works as comedic relief (although I have to admit I kept hoping he’d break out his It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia rat-basher and take it to the Kaiju), as does his fellow scientist Gottlieb, played by Burn Gorman. Ron Perlman is big, bold and brash as Kaiju leftover parts salesman Hannibal Chau, but his screen time is limited. Idris Elba, one of my favorite actors, is under-used but solid given with what little the script offers. The Jaeger pilots are largely cardboard cutouts, and our pilot hero, Raleigh, as played by Charlie Hunman (Sons of Anarchy) is a waste of space. Day, Gorman, Perlman and Elba all elevate their weak roles and lackluster dialogue with their solid performances. Hunman is unable to do the same, lacking subtlety in a very by-the-numbers performance.

Final thought: Not a great movie, but it’s a pretty damn fine collection of big bodies battling.

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Where are my beautiful, brooding, glittery vampires?

The body count starts at 200.

The body count starts at 200.

If Guillermo del Toro was involved in a live-action film that pitted the horses of My Little Pony vs. the fruity friends of Strawberry Shortcake, I would watch it. The Devil’s Backbone, Blade II, Mimic and what I consider to be one of the best flicks of the past decade, Pan’s Labyrinth, are all the reasons I need to tune in.

(AHEAD BE SPOILERS)

But if that resume wasn’t enough, having read the first book of The Strain series would have pushed me all in, as well. I love the idea of treating vampirism as a virus/biological threat, elevating CDC scientists and pest exterminators to hero status, and a true, well-planned, violent takeover of the planet by the forces of darkness. The book moves quickly and clinically, a terrific mix of science and superstition.

It doesn’t look like the show will stick 100% to the books, however. It’s been a few months, so maybe I’ve forgotten (if anybody remembers, please mention it in the comments), but I don’t remember Sean Astin’s character from the first novel. That said, there are always going to be changes from page to screen (see The Walking Dead). If it’s handled well, if you don’t lose too much or fail to keep the spirit of the written enterprise, it shouldn’t hurt the show.

One disappointing moment of bad science: 200 people dead on an airplane from something toxic, whether it’s chemical, biological, whatever. As coroner, you’re in the morgue with all 200 of these bodies. Do you go casually eating in the workplace or use half-assed safety gear? No, you frigging don’t. And that’s what he deserved to be eaten by vampires. Supernatural Darwinism. Or maybe just karma for the stupid and lazy.

But that one irksome lapse is in the minority. If the FX series premiere is any indication, what worked on the page is going to work just as well on screen. The show moves quickly and easily, building suspense and delivering scares. The cast works – Mia Maestro seemed a bit under-used, but it’s the pilot so I preach patience – it’s well written and looks fabulous. The book has great breadth, both in story and characters, and early on it seems that the producers understand how to make that translate to the screen. The full-on vampires are used sparingly in the premiere, and our “Big Bad” vamp we’ve seen but not completely, just enough to tease and raise cause for serious concern as to his motives and what he will do to accomplish them. The slow build is definitely the way to go, and the minds behind The Strain get it.

So I guess I’ll just have to go find my pretty, self-involved, glittery creatures of the night elsewhere. The dude abides …

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