Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pacific Rim (movie review)

A change of marquee at The Bagdad and I'm back for more "mindless entertainment" as it's called.

Lets watch some monsters rip up some cities.  Spectacular.

And it is spectacular.  Loud professionally-mixed sound has everything to do with it, plus there's that audience complicity we bleep over called "suspended disbelief".  How come when we go to book stores there aren't whole shelves on "suspended disbelief" -- isn't that an amazing concept and doesn't it ultimately cover so much outside of just movies?

A less nice term for it is "being in denial" but that's so unfriendly.  Doesn't it just mean having a good imagination and willfully coloring one's own life with what "special effects" one might bring to the picture?  If movie-makers do it why can't we?

Why do they call it escapism?  Yet at the same time "curling up with a novel" is a healthy thing?  No consistency there then.  If you wanna believe you're doing something "wrong", you will always have evidence, built in to the very fabric of the universe.  But "right" is there also.

Reading (fiction or non-fiction) actually keeps you in practice as a reader.  If you stop reading, the habit erodes, as it has for many non-reading TV-aholics.

Anyway, it's really rainy and stormy here after a pretty summer and people were packing the theater big time.  Indoor entertainment this weekend, not hiking, not exploring the great outdoors.

I don't like missing beginnings, especially holes opening into other dimensions, but I wanted my beer 'n pizza (this was dinner -- though I'd snack more too), so I head tripped about how they weren't firing on all cylinders (some cashier positions were open -- and some filled as I got closer) when I should have gotten there earlier.

Which reminds me, I need to give my mom her meds that I picked up on the way... hold on.  OK done, she has them.

Code Guardian on steroids.  With the Chinese Restaurant from eXistenZ, just a little.  These ugly bugs have parasites that are just as ugly.  It's ugly all the way down... but for sale and prized in Hong Kong (conjure the laugh track).

This movie knows to get a little goofy sometimes (I've not even mentioned the science types).  It's not as seriously scary as World War Z (also with its science type, just the type to slip up), which is more horrific by far.  The UN was at it again (like in WWZ) appearing to make the big decisions ("build walls!"), with the US fitting in, not playing the standalone "superpower" so much.

The fighter pilot hero seems American idol like, but most around him in command seemed Australian, see below.

This is just epic science fiction and fun with special effects.  Alexia had already told me it was so silly it was satisfying, just the mind-chicken one might need after a gnarly day at some office.

Let's just watch the world ending and see some bold heroics to save it, why not?  Lots of allusions to Godzilla.

I'm largely skeptical of Jaegers by the way.  I suppose they're more believable than Transformers and believability ain't even the point.  Just I don't think that super heavy metal with hoses the pneumatics is ever going to achieve that level of gracefulness quite, certainly not at that scale -- even the level of grace depicted, which is still pretty lame.  Sound is what makes it believable.

All that clanking.  Definitely heavy metal, yep yep.

I think it was Saving Private Ryan where the movie-makers suddenly paid more attention to bullet and gunfire noises, not using Hollywood stock effects.  Breakthroughs occur on that level.  I'm not saying this film had such breakthroughs, or that it didn't, just it gets me thinking about movie-making wizardry again.  So much goes into these productions.  I'd gladly watch The Making of Pacific Rim on special features.

Another plot element that gets me is you don't get to practice "drifting" (mind melding) with your battlefield partner, you just dive into it, already aboard a giant robot.  And when did you get training with that?  Learning to drive is hard enough but here you get converge your memories with someone else's and pilot a skyscraper all in one go?

Seems like you'd want to gradually build up to such onerous real time duty with the drifting and start more casually?

But that'd turn a science action film into a romance or other voyeuristic nonsense (as she and he got to know each other better, other than by fighting that is).  Nope, not what you came to see.  It's a monster movie for gosh sakes, not about adults doing lots of kissing (but then you're supposed to get how you might wanna, if you're only fourteen).

Probably the deepest aspect of this movie is its title, and the blend of East and West it concocts as a backdrop (not forgetting "down under").  This clearly can't be the present, as we don't have Jaegers yet and the UN doesn't cohere all that well (no external threat is really that big I guess, no "other dimension").

Speaking of the UN there are some big talks on nuclear disarmament going on even now yet it's hard to dig up stories.  The US isn't wanting to be "told what to do" and has not yet embraced the view that it can afford to lose the business, though Countdown to Zero -- the campaign (aka Critical Will) -- continues to make inroads, including with top intelligentsia.

Code Guardian too seems set in the past, and has these giant retro robots, as the popular mind back then might have imagined them (projecting its own technology).  It's this "retro futurism" that informs the ambiance of this film, Aliens no question an influence (open homage is paid).

It's not the job of science fiction to always believably situate itself, in either time or in space, as an other tomorrow.  Here's another way the ability to "suspend disbelief" comes in handy.  Then disbelief can come flooding in again, as your lonely planet whirls its silent way along some geodesic.  Nothing unbelievable about that.

Another similarity with Code Guardian (a tiny budget film, entirely computer generated) is precisely this Pacific Rim focus, in some ways furthering the peace it projects, with a nod to lingering sparks of hostility.  Many Asian countries get left out though, as many as are included.  This isn't a documentary on Asian cultures.

I met Derek walking back and we talked about coming changes to the neighborhood.  He was on his way to a sports bar to watch a game.