Posts Tagged ‘ Guillermo del Toro ’

Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific

Okay film with a really stupid plot but some of the most fantastic robot-on-monster visuals you’re likely to see outside of an anime, which, uncoincidentally enough, this movie might as well have been. Though, no, it is impressive that they managed to pull this off as a live action, thin plot and all. If only the story had been as good as the visuals, or made sense even, and not instead felt like something out of a terrible B-movie at times.

The whole Charlie Day side plot is ridiculous; funny, yes, but so dumb, especially when contrasted with some of the more powerful, downright terrifying battle scenes. The one at the **SPOILERS** beginning especially scared the crap out of me. **END SPOILERS** Very impressive. I was almost dreading the battles after a while they were so intense. A first. And the scene with **SPOILERS** the Asian woman’s flashback to her encounter with the monster as a young girl **SPOILERS** was brilliant and scary and extremely effective all at once. Shame most of the rest of the movie couldn’t be as good. Talk about squandered potential, at least where the story and characters were concerned.

Overall, okay, nothing great. Good mindless action, forgettable save the incredible visuals and a few well crafted scenes here and there. And what was with all the accents? Put some subtitles under there if you’re not going to require your characters to be comprehensible. Geez.

Anyway, watch it for yourself: Pacific Rim

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) – 3.5/5

hobbit

Visually stunning but sloppily written and directed mess of a film with hints of brilliance buried underneath long, overly talky scenes, poorly developed characters, a forced plot, and one of the worst technical decisions ever made: the 48 frames per second format, as opposed to the traditional, and far better looking, 24 frames per second format most films are shot and played in. Just an awful, awful format that took me out of the movie more than any film I’ve ever seen. Never again, Peter Jackson, never, ever again. I don’t care if you think it looks smoother and sharper and “it’s the future” and all that nonsense, it’s not better. Not by a long shot. Not when you can clearly see Ian McKellen’s contact lenses whenever he’s in close up, or how clearly made of cardboard and plastic the rock Gollum is standing on is, or how obviously fake and/or on a set every scene not shot outside in wide looks. Never again, Peter. You hear me? Never! You shall not pass!

Horrible, distracting, film ruining frame rate aside, the film has some pretty significant plot problems as well, the most glaring of which is the fact that Bilbo **SPOILERS** doesn’t have a convincing reason for deciding to go on the trip in the first place. He hems and haws about it for a few moments, sure, but it’s firmly established that he has no interest in going, that it’s not in his nature to go, that he’d be extremely uncomfortable outside of the Shire if he were to go, and that he doesn’t even like Gandalf all that much to make it worth going. Most importantly, though, he has no real reason to go. There’s nothing in it for him, and since we’ve already established that he has no interest in adventure, the fact that he suddenly decides to abandon his relatively safe, comfortable life on a whim to join Gandalf and Co. on an extremely dangerous adventure that all but ensures his death doesn’t make any sense. **END SPOILERS** No explanation given, it just happens. One minute he’s of one mind about it, the next he’s of another. It doesn’t make any sense! And this happens several times with him throughout the film. Lazy, lazy writing.

There’s also other stuff. Yeah, the film is too long, and there’s a lot that could and should have been cut, though the beginning wasn’t as bad or as slow as I was expecting. I actually really enjoyed the “dragon” intro; what a great, beautiful way to start a film, and to reintroduce us to this universe. And the crappy frame rate didn’t even bother me all that much initially for some reason, probably because a lot of the beginning is shot indoors and in close-ups. The scenes in the Shire weren’t bad, just long, but charming in their own way, goofy humor and all, especially the **SPOILERS** plate tossing song the dwarfs sing to annoy Bilbo. **END SPOILERS** Ha ha! Then the actual plot kicks in and it’s okay, though, again, it’s hard to judge given the crappy frame rate. The fakeness of it all kept taking me out of the film, no matter how hard I tried to stay in it. There’s no magic in it, no sense of wonder. And the direction too felt off, like Jackson stopped trying as soon as he was done with that cool intro.

Don’t get me wrong: most if it looked great, crappy frame rate aside, with excellent CGI and big epic wide shots that make you wonder how in the hell they put it all together, but a lot of the more individual moments felt like rehashes of stuff he’d already done in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. He seems bored here, like he realized he already did most of the work in the original series and figured he could probably get away with redoing the same stuff again without anyone noticing. Other scenes, though, just plain fall flat, like the **SPOILERS** “sit around and talk about the map” scene in the Shire at the beginning or the horrible, horrible “sit around and talk about the mysterious dagger Gandalf found that has nothing to do with anything else going on” scene with Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, and Hugo Weaving in Rivendell. **END SPOILERS** Talk about dull and pointless, especially that latter scene which was such a terrible waste of four great actors. Why was Sauroman even in this film? To look creepy and deliver exposition? Then why have Blanchett’s character talk over him during most of it? And what was with the whole walking back and forth she was doing? Was it supposed to be mysterious or something? Just have her stay still, damn it. And the dialogue is so lame and cheesy at times. Remember the poetic, often memorable beauty of the dialogue of the original trilogy? Yeah, none of that is here. Just cheese and laziness.

The acting is good to great, though I wasn’t a huge fan of Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo. He’s a little too goofy, a little too obviously comical for the part, like he was in on every joke and wanted to make sure you knew it. The acting equivalent of winking at the camera, in other words. And the music, was there anything even new here? It felt like they just padded this one with the same exact score from the original trilogy in hopes, again, that no one would notice, and no one did, it seems. The music at the beginning felt a touch new, but everything else sounded exactly the same. The use of bald characters was a nice touch, though. Wasn’t expecting that given the original trilogy’s tendency to only feature long-haired characters, regardless of age, gender, or species. The cast is still all British speaking white people though, I think, but hey, it’s a start. One step at a time, I guess.

Overall, though it has its problems, I did enjoy it; the film is extraordinarily stunning visually. I liked how good the CGI looked, especially Gollum, even if his scene, like the rest of the film, kind of fell flat thanks to the crappy god awful frame rate. I’m sure if I had watched it at the normal god-fearing speed I would have enjoyed it more. But like I said, the film has its moments, plot issues and all, and the special effects were outstanding for the most part, except the stuff with the **SPOILERS** Brown Wizard and his various animals **END SPOILERS** which looked ridiculous. The **SPOILERS** Goblin King **END SPOILERS** too looked really great, even if his chin resembled a giant testicle for some reason. Something tells me that was intentional, though. Guillermo del Toro’s influence, perhaps?

So, yeah, disappointing, and, if you watch it at 48fps like I did, quite infuriating. The new format is extremely off-putting, extremely distancing; there’s no connection between yourself and anything you see on-screen, or at least there wasn’t for me. And this needs to change. I’m sure I’d have given the film a better rating had I seen it at 24fps, which I plan to do someday, but this is how Jackson and Co. intended the film to be seen, and this is the format I’m going to judge it by. Not a terrible film, but an annoying one. A failed experiment, and a step down from the original trilogy. Hopefully the next will be better.