Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising

Erin and I saw this yesterday, with anticipation. I'm not big on sequels but I enjoyed the cheesy thunder of the first movie, so full steam ahead. We arrived for the pre-noon matinee only to discover that it was in 3D. Bad cess on that! Just gives a headache. Came back around two. Nary a soul in the theatre. An older man was already seated up front, killing a day, I suppose.

The trailers foretell a summer of the usual summer stuff. At least no heart to heart dramas portend. So, I glean that the Jurassic Park franchise goes on. It looks like this one grandly renders the spectacle but it doesn't look like a surprise otherwise. Special effects and movie tech keep improving, or at least continue to up the simulacrum ante.

I don't think I have seen a Dwayne the Rock movie, he's one of those entities who osmose into your consciousness, but two are in the pipeline. He's got a good comedic delivery, give him that. One movie has a gorilla in it, the other a burning skyscraper. Take your pick.

The only true excrescence in the coming flicks is one with Johnny Knoxville. A rundown amusement park must fight off the advances of a super new one. I've seen this movie 111 times or maybe ten thousand, ie, what the hell do scriptwriters actually do??? Supposedly the idiot stunts are done for real. O wasteland!

The first Pacific Rim was fine. The idea of robots versus dinosaurs is fun, tho every step of the way revealed something ludicrous. The scale, the careless destruction, the outsized, clumsy robots. Those big lunks have to be helicoptered to the battle zone, which seems like their most telling weakness. Number two here follows that map. The movie begins with the son of the iconic hero of the first one. The son flamed out at robot corps and turned to a dissolute life. It's a semi-post apocalyptic world with the bones of dead kaiju from ten years ago laying where they died but life otherwise going on. The son is a petty thief trying to steal robot parts.

He meets a young girl who herself made a small fighting robot out of spare parts that she fingered. The two get caught because such is illegal, not sure why that's so. After a brief jail cell scene in which we see the two verbally spare, he is brought in to the Jager corps to train young recruits, and she becomes a recruit. A certain charm to this with him being the protective big brother a bit. Like with the first movie, we have our heroes not quite fitting in with others. You need not skip ahead to find out it all works out, the trail is wellworn and clear.

The movie is not about that anyway, it's about Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. It's a surprise that the first big battle occurs between two robots. Wait, what? A mystery robot appears and performs devastation procedures until finally sent packing. It's all an ode to unrestrained collateral damage. That miscreant of a Jager suggests nefariousness, but I will let you see how the plot unrolls for yourself.

Only a few of the characters in the first movie return, and mostly in minor appearances. The tech guy and the science guy from the first prove central in this battle to end all battles redux. The gist of the fight is literally destruction of the planet. Some kaiju appear, a few red shirts die. Something about racing to Mount Fuji before the kaiju end everything, thwarted by the son and the girl. You can open your eyes now.

The great line from the first movie was referenced: We are cancelling the apocalypse!!! I wish this movie had something that popped out as effectively. I suppose equaling that lame ass battle cry could not be expected. There's evidence at the end of the movie that a third cancellation may be in order. Stay tuned.

I'd say the movie is technically better than the first in its look. No actors in either one is familiar to me, which actually is a relief. Let the vehicle be the vehicle. Movies are so much about these branded creatures called actors, who must remain in brand. Whatever their chops are, when you see Sylvester Stallone on the screen, or Jennifer Anniston, or every damn whosis on the red carpet, it is first of all a branding exercise. These creatures of infernal power then can prance on the screen as may be, secure in their inviolate importance. The competent nobodies that people this movie and its predecessor are allowed to stick to the task of just taking the ridiculousness on the movie screen seriously enough to keep plot going. That is all I ask.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter and That

I grew up in the Unitarian-Univeralist church, mainly, I suppose, because of a long family line in Massachusetts. My father was dutiful about having a church to go to, and my mother was relieved that no fire and brimstone appeared in the services. I gather someone on her side of the family offered too much of that.

Services at our stately church on Lexington Green seemed pretty formal to me but I never had experience in other churches and temples probably till I was an adult. My friend’s mother one time suggested that I go with him to confession. I imagined it as a strange and awful event and hastily declined. As her sight failed, and then her broken hip, my mother stopped going to church. She was not as gregarious as my father, anyway, tho both were well known in the church.

An Easter tradition developed late in her life in which I would stay with my mother while dad was at church with the quadrupled holiday turn out, and we would watch movies. For instance, we watched Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and the not yet trashed Judy Garland because mom loved dancing, any dancing. Garland was young and Astaire seemingly always would be.

I remember finding a documentary about a 12th century painter whose name escapes me, who apparently invented perspective. The paintings of course were hellaious Christian imagery both terrifying and uplifting. I remember in elementary school, a boy told me that God died on a mountain. I had not been so informed, that's not the sort of thing Unitarians talk about, either in or out of church. What I pictured was something akin to Mount Doom, in that famous movie.

For me, growing up Unitarian, Easter simply meant candy, big dinner, and coloring eggs. I didn’t like coloring eggs, or eggs in general. Easter only became interesting when it linked to spring rebirth and revival, sword dances, daffodils, banging the earth with a stick, and all that. The ritual with my mother, we did this for several years, felt meaningful, if not exactly part of that. Connecting life to that thing that isn't life, but is.