Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pacific Rim, Movie

Erin and I absorbed a matinee yesterday. In his particular Internet stream, this was something of interest. I had not otherwise heard of it.

We arrived to an empty theatre: would we be alone thru out? Nay, a good 13 others joined us for this Wednesday entertainment.

In the offing is just about nuthin’. There’s a not quite buddy pic with Mark Walberg and Morgan Freeman except that it turns out Denzel Washington is Morgan Freeman now. Or vice versa? A dystopian future flick has Matt Damon as part of the vast prole underfoot separated from the primo non-polluted satellite where bleachy prune Jodie Foster rules the best part of society. Doesn’t look like one of her best roles. Plot-wise, well, you know, but it looked good, with wide futuristic vistas and stuff. Finally, I would hope, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts skywalking when I guess a collision with space trash requires 2 hours of cinematic saving of each other way way way above the earth. No thank you, times 10,000. Creeped out just thinking on it. Other crap on the way, can’t think whosis whatsis. Don’t miss it if you can, as I think Louis B Mayer said.

I had the vaguest expectation for Pacific Rim, monsters versus robots. The extended set up explained that destructive giant monsters have appeared, Godzilla plus a lot. Seems a rift in an undersea plate has a portal to another dimension, thru which pass these mega-monsters. The movie explained it more briefly than that so people wouldn’t hurt themselves thinking about it too much. Anyway, you mention other dimensions, everyone nods knowingly.

The monsters seem intent on coming ashore and devastating. Godzilla wants its plot back. It’s later explained, if explained is really the apt term, that dinosaurs were precursors of these beasties, in an earlier alien attempt to take over the planet. The monsters (I think) are tools of this alien race that takes over planets, uses them up, then moves on.

So, still in the set up, us earthlings discover that normal war machines were insufficient. The human world, as one, developed gigantor robots. To run these majestic destroyers required two people. The strain of commanding such mongo machines was more than one person could handle. Thus pairs were used. There was a three-armed bot run by triplets, but it didn’t last long. As Erin pointed out, the triplets must feel special to have a bot built just for them.

Pilots connect psychically thru some process called the drift. No need to explain how. Basically, one person would be right brain, the other left. The two pilots would move arms and legs and the robot would perform those moves. There were hints of Transformers, GoBots, and Pokemon in all of this. Also War of the Worlds. Almost plausible too, if you accept that physics and biology don’t exist. I mean, getting into a bot had all these NASA-like procedures, which created a sort of reality.

Continuing, still, with the set up, we meet two brothers, one of whom clearly has pectoral muscles. They are pilots and we see them give battle. The scale of the monsters and the robots is kept loose, at a guess between 10 and 100 stories tall. The word ridiculous comes to mind. The younger of the brothers gets ripped from the robot, and the older barely survives. Okay. Now we can get going in the present tense.

Some five years later, surviving brother has quit the bot biz. The whole bot program is in disarray.  The monster are evolving, and the bots are getting beat. The whizbang world leaders have decided to place funding in building a wall to keep the monsters out. Oh, that oughta work. I’ve neglected to describe how these shark-like dinosaurs destroy cities: they run amok. Nothing has stood up to them, so why expect the wall? Okay, stop asking questions.

Our hero at this time is helping to build the wall, an exaggerated Texas border. The wrenching death of his brother has left him in doldrums. The head of the bot program seeks him out. Funding will last just a few months more, until the stupid wall is finished. He wants to make one last all out effort against the monsters. Oh, the monsters are called kaiju, which is Japanese for something. The bots are called jaegers, German for hunter.

Luckily, I never saw Top Gun but I know that it echoes here. Raleigh, brother of dead Yancey, must prove himself to the elites who didn’t quit the service. Raleigh, surprise, is not exactly by the book. Marshall, the bot program boss, brings in a woman as an expert to decide who shall be R’s partner. Turns out she’s highly qualified but Marshall won’t let her be part of the fighting. Raleigh does martial arts with various candidates for partnership. It’s a chance to show that he has pecs too, like his brother. And abs. The woman scores him harshly, tho he succeeds against all. This pisses off R, who challenges the woman. They spar, with sticks, and she wins and he magnaminously accepts her, but Marshall still says nay.

Meanwhile, there’s a cocky Australian who is teamed with his father. He snarls at R, and finally they fight. Dramatic tension, or something kinda like. Expect the two to develop a grudging respect for each other.

The world seems to be going dingo, with the onslaught. The monsters have mouths within mouths, which is an inexplicable trope that I’ve seen in other movies. Anyway, comic relief with two scientists. One is flippant American nerd biologist, the other is German math major with a cane. They have competing theories about the monsters. Rather outre, especially the German, but lively.

R and the woman finally are teamed, against Marshall’s instinct. In battle, she gets lost in the drift. The drift is Vulcan mind meld, but in that zone she could not forget her own past, in which as a child, she flees the devastators that killed her family. She freaks out and nearly kills a bunch of people. Discredited.

The monsters are arriving in grander configuration. Time for the last best. The idea is to blow up the fissure where the inter-dimensional gate is. I missed plenty as the movie proceeded. The nerd biologist drifted with part of a monster brain. Learned stuff, I’m not sure what.

The bots seem pretty unlikely. They are huge + huge, but really. They are carried to the battle via helicopters, which seems primo lame. Dropped into the sea, they walk thru the waves. Let’s just forget about physics for a while. They move with the grace of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Completely and completely out of their element, no matter the element. A lot of crashing about. When battling on land, you get all the collateral damage you could need and more.

The bots mostly punch and slam the monsters. Occasionally they use highly effective rockets, and you wonder why not always go that route. Well, the monsters can spit up a furious sort of acid that completely ruins a bot, but they choose to do so rarely.

Nerd biologist needs a complete alien brain to perform drift on. He seeks out Ron Perlman, only actor in the flick that I’ve seen before. Perlman enjoys the chance to act out with his sleazy flesh monger role (alien flesh and stuff is used for all sorts of sketchy stuff).

Well, no need to serve up the plot further. Nerd biologist discovers, with the bickering help of math guy, that the fissure cannot be breached (with atomic pow) without alien monster. That is, the portal closes to aliens (id est humans).

Dramatic expected deaths, and all, and it is down to Raleigh and the woman. We learn that she was a child who Marshall saved and then upbrang. He dies, of course. This last bot is just about done working, arm missing and stuff. Situation normal for bits to fall off and electrical stuff flashing and burning. They’re going to grab a monster and drop the bot down into the fissure where its nuclear core will be set to explode. Raleigh sends his injured partner to the surface in a pod since only one can perform blow up sequences. The bot explodes as per, closing the portal. Raleigh manages to escape in a pod. Blimey!

I wonder if I got half the plot here. I’m sure all 15 of us in the audience frequently said “Oh, I saw that coming” during our 2 hours in this other world.

And yet.

Despite the cliches running wild, the characters seemed to stand stalwart. Marshall had to give a rousing speech before the final battle. It’s the same speech as given in Independence Day. Marshall gets to put a period to the final paragraph with this great line: “We have canceled the apocalypse.” As Erin asserted, no finer line.

I found all the actors strangely likeable. Guillermo del Toro directed. I’ve heard the name but have nothing to attach it to.