Pacific Rim is pure AWESOMENESS!

Pacific Rim FilmPoster.jpeg

What an epic spectacle!  Pacific Rim is a mixture of creativity, humanity, badassery, monsters and giant robots–yeah…it’s awesome!  My excitement was justified–Guillermo del Toro has fulfilled his and my childhood dreams and reminded us what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be.  As a long time fan of del Toro this is not a surprise, at all!

The story is simple (as most action films are) but it is original and intricate.  The premise by  Travis Beacham and co-written with del Toro is a complete universe with a solid mythology established and it is an exciting discovery.  This is a rare occurrence in Hollywood today–(it does happen sometimes…Daybreakers–Looper–Matrix…to name a few) and Pacific Rim delivers a world so believable and so well thought out to the last detail, that you will find yourself immersed quickly.  (And now, I want to know more! Prequel, maybe?)

I love monsters! I remember fondly watching Godzilla marathons when I was a kid (Mothra shout out!) and now I still find myself drawn to creatures of all shapes and sizes.  I think it is a natural fascination with the unknown and it’s a direct manifestation of imagination and creativity.   And del Toro delivers some of the coolest, most original looking monsters I’ve ever seen.

Kaiju–The word “Kaiju” is a Japanese that literally translates to “strange beast,” but is often translated in English as “monster”.  And these are strange beasts indeed.  Fantastic.  I have to give some kudos to the film’s designers, which  include Wayne BarloweOscar Chichoni, monster sculptors David Meng and Simon Lee, and Hellboy II and The Hobbit designer Francisco Ruiz Velasco.  Amazing.

The trailer tells you all you need to know, so I will not divulge anything extra–(you know how I like to keep you untainted by not revealing too much information).  😀  But, simply–the Kaiju are from another dimension and are now a problem for humanity.  (I do love the time in which del Toro decides to bring us into the narrative–it was unexpected–I thought we were going to see some origin stuff, but no–interesting choice.)

So, humans unite and create our own monsters–giant robots called Jaeger–“Hunter” in German–to fight off the Kaiju. Simple.  Except to operate the Jaeger you need humans–two actually–united (the “Drift”) and their human connectivity fuels and determines the level of their strength.  Nice.  What a clever way to insert heart and soul in a metal shell.  I also enjoyed the new approach to the traditional love story–by having this drift connection it becomes more about inner compatibility than the typical attributes given to love.  It is subtle and interesting.  All in all, the metal shells and their human operation are absolutely awesome!

The genius is in tying humanity to the use and function of these machines.  The Jaeger pilots are the robots.  So when they are in danger–so are our heroes.  It adds a level of investment and risk needed to enhance the action sequences.  These Jaegers are incredible, too.  Beautifully designed and meticulously constructed.  Gypsy Danger is a Rock Star!  (Reading all the design considerations that went into creating them has been quite fascinating.)

But, the fighting…wow!  Not kinetic.  Not sped up.  Not edited down to bits.  Just knock-out-drag-out fights!!  Punches being swung.  Monsters pounding and piercing.  I am sure that my mouth fell open a few times.  Hell–I know once I heard myself say “WTF? Uh-uh!” –out loud! I applauded at few kills–yes, it was mind-blowing.  And all I will say is that the “we do have one more weapon” left moment is–BADASS!!  I may have squealed.  😉

That is another accomplishment–the special effects and monster creations are crazy good!  Industrial Light and Magic continues to impress and creates flawless effects.  I was never taken out of a moment–it all had a realism to it–they made you believe all this could be possible–surreal, but plausible.    

I love the cast.  Mostly, I am happy to see Idris Elba front and center!  “Canceling the Apocalypse” has already become quotable since the trailer and here he does not disappoint.  Elba’s Stacker Pentecost (great name) is the heart of the story really and his performance is perfect.  The lovely Rinko Kikuchi (loved her in Brothers Bloom) is Mako Mori and I found her charming (her character back story is one of the most haunting) and a strong match for our hero.   Charlie Hunnam‘s Raleigh Becket is our hero and although he may be the weakest link (could have been a bit more expressive), the chains are so strong around him that he is able to get by.  The comedy relief is dead on!  Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as resident scientists are hilarious and Mr. Ron Perlman shows up for some required helping of extra awesome.

Oh, I cannot forget to mention how gorgeous this film looked–del Toro reunited with long time collaborator Guillermo Navarro for cinematography and it’s beautiful.  And the music by Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) is fantastic–listening to it now actually–within five minutes I knew I wanted to own it–soaring and sweeping with some cool Tom Morello guitar solos.  Sweet.

It is clear that I can go on and on.  Pacific Rim is a masterpiece.  A masterpiece in scale and scope, but also with heart and originality.  del Toro’s enthusiasm and love for the material is evident and you can’t help but have it rub off on you.  Big, fun, creative and with a beating, human pulse.  Yes.  This is what summer blockbuster should be.  And hopefully now Guillermo del Toro will be able to do whatever he wants!  PLEASE!  (Hellboy 3 has to happen.) 😀

Go!  Have fun!  It’s pure awesomeness!

Pacific Rim – Official Trailer 1 [HD] – YouTube

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The Strain Trilogy ends perfectly with The Night Eternal

The Night Eternal was the last act and despite some unexpected religious overtones–it was a satisfying conclusion.  Now I can’t wait for the movies!  This trilogy was a very creative and unique addition to the vampire mythology.  They’re written in such a vivid, detailed way that a film adaptation seems only natural (I’m keeping my fingers crossed!) 

I already reviewed the first two installments–The Strain and The Fall–and as stated, I was anxiously awaiting the last one.  I read it 3 days!  I could not put it down. 

Del Toro and Hogan spin a very convincing tale.  I loved the unexpected developments.  After the surprising cliffhanger of The Fall, I was not sure what the world would be like.  The story picks up three years after and I was impressed with new world order that they created.  A world full of blood camps and rebel cells.  Very clever! 

Another strong development is the change of “hero” status of our protagonist.  Eph Goodweather is falling apart and is more of a hinderance than a help.  He gives a new meaning to anti-hero.  It leaves most of the good to be done by Vasiliy Fet, Nora Martinez and Mr.Quinlan (the awesome half-breed who is a major badass).  Former gang member Gus Elizalde, continues to be a badass and has some great moments in this book.  There are many awesome new character turns.

We also get the entire back story on the Master and that is where some “out of the blue” religious origins are explained.  It is a bit odd and mystical, but it is not enough to ruin the story.  I love the relationship that develops between the Master and Zach (Eph’s son)–it is one built on lies and manipulation and it is brilliantly constructed. 

So, if you want to get lost in a cleverly told story that is way more than just a vampire fantasy–settle in with this trilogy–it will be a captivating read!

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark–Trust me…you won’t be!

I love Guillermo Del Toro!  He has a creative imagination and a talent with the macabre and strange.  So, although I heard mixed reviews (mostly bad) about Don’t Be Afraid of Dark, I still wanted to see it.  Plus, many times I enjoy movies others do not–well…I should have stayed away.  What started off as a promising premise with a nicely troubled little girl in the center turned into a predictable, silly BOO fest.  (Boo is my way of describing a movie that is not genuinely scary and resorts to pop out and BOO tactics.  Dark hallway, turn the corner and then…BOO!)

I was not impressed with the cast.  Katie Holmes annoys me and even as the smartest person in this film, I still wanted to punch her.  Sorry–I can not help it!  Guy Pearce is a great actor, but has nothing to work with here.  In turn he is left with talking on phone and thinking his kid is crazy.  Bailee Madison is a little one note as the little girl–and that is the biggest mistake, because she needs to be the heart of the story.  Instead she has only one facial expression and she emotes the same emotion.  Would it have killed someone if she cracked a smile?  The house is pretty interesting with lots of intricate wood work and requisite creepiness and could have been utilized more to create atmosphere.  The creatures–that we should be afraid of–are well rendered, but not truly scary–they end up being more like a rat infestation–which actually would’ve been scarier.

I am not an avid horror/scary movie fan, yet I do enjoy a good scare every once in awhile and sadly this did not satisfy that need.  Oh, yeah–by the way–if all the above was not bad enough…the ending is stupid! **insert eye roll**  Go at your own risk! 

 

The Strain & The Fall prove that Vampires DO NOT Sparkle!!

In fact, they are virus infected empty shells of their former selves on an endless search to quench their blood lust. (Whew! said that in one breath!)  And by the way, the sun is still the greatest weapon against them, because it BURNS them, not makes them shimmer.  Just sayin’! 

 The Strain Trilogy is off to an awesome start!  Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hoganhave joined forces and created a unique, imaginative take on classic Vampire lore.  The novels are a quick read–they’re short, about 300 pages & there is the fact that you can’t put them down–yet both linger in your consciousness.  I have a pretty tough constitution and I was a little creeped out–which is totally cool!!   

It all begins with the successful landing of a 777 in NYC.  And within a few minutes the plane is stopped, with no sign of life.  The mysterious occurence garners the attention of the CDC and Dr. Eph Goodweather is called to the scene.  And then as I like to say about most of my favorite books…people start dying!  🙂

I am going to give Del Toro credit for weaving a tale that plays like a movie in your head.  It is extremely visual and has the beats for a well constructed film.  I have not read anything else by Hogan, so it is difficult to feel his presence.  It screams Del Toro to me all the way.  While Cronin’s The Passage  plays like a thoughtful independent film–The Strain and The Fall play like blockbusters.  Moving fast with bad ass action and edge of your seat suspense. 

What was really cool though, were the insights into the victims minds.  It was heartbreaking and tough to experience their transformation.  I also fell in love with the main characters pretty quick. (Abraham Setrakian, Vasiliy Fet and Augustin Elizalde are my favorites.) 

The Strain focuses on the outbreak and the introduction of the main players.  The Fall focuses on the history of the Vampires and elaborates on the mythology.  It is one story–and must be read together–actually the second begins immediately where the first left off. 

So, what did I not like?  Well, they left me on a cliffhanger!  Of course!  The final act–The Night Eternal–is set to release on October 25,2011 and trust me I will be waiting in line.  Now, all I can hope for is that Del Toro will adapt and make the films he had in mind when he wrote this trilogy–that would totally ROCK!