Monday, July 15, 2013

Monsters, Anime, & Popcorn

Every summer, you're on the lookout for That Movie.  You know the one - a flick that rejoices in being big, loud, and worthy of your overpriced bucket of popcorn.  For my money, 2013's Big Summer Movie is Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim.  You know how I can tell?  I felt giddy watching this movie and then almost immediately felt guilty about it.  Now, I understand that not every movie is going to be - or needs to be, for that matter - a sensitive exploration of the human condition.  That doesn't mean a movie isn't a good movie; it just means a different yardstick needs to be employed.  In a similar fashion, I can like both fauvism and the moody glory of Rembrandt.  Del Toro is a chameleon of a filmmaker, giving audiences both the carefully-crafted fantasy Pan's Labyrinth and the fun excess of the Hellboy movies.  

Look, Pacific Rim isn't about the performances.  Heck, parts of the dialogue are cliched to the point of hilarity.  But the CGI is phenomenal and the attention to detail that went into creating both the beneath-the-sea monsters and the gigantic robots is breath-taking.  There's nary a shaky hand-held camera in sight and the fixed cameras swoop and dive-bomb the action.  Lots of rain - at least a 6.5 on the Ridley Scott scale, I'd say.  And this is a movie that was made to be an anime-based game.  So.  Many.  Tropes!  Monsters emerging from the sea to destroy a city.  Robots with swords.  A kendo-style fight.  Funky-colored hair.  You'll love it if you ever liked a creature feature that had rubber-suited monsters or shiny robots.  You'll love it if you ever stayed up late to watch a Harryhausen Sinbad flick.  You'll love it if you ever stayed up late to watch a Ishiro Honda Mothra flick.  (And if the last two apply to you, stay all the way through the credits.  You'll be glad you did.)

Is it Bergman's Seventh Seal?  Nope.  But Seventh Seal isn't Pacific Rim, either.

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