PACIFIC RIM (2013) Director: Guillermo del Toro Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Perlman Rating: PG-13 for big robots punching big monsters and lots of stuff getting stepped on.
In a review I posted a while back I shared a detailed list of all the special things I look for in a movie that make it worthy of this blog. Creating this list was a near impossible task that took me years to put together and cost me every penny of my family’s fortune, plus I had to kill several cold blooded ninja assassins who wanted to discover the secrets of my list.
Of course the ninjas could have just read my blog where the list was out in the open for everyone to read. If they had only subscribed to my blog, they’d still be alive doing ninja assassin stuff today.
Anyhoo, here are the things that make a movie worthy of a review here on DVD Critics Corner:
1. A gratuitous amount of violence which includes any or all of the following: gun play, sword play, close quarter hand to hand combat, kung fu fighting, and lots and lots of kicking.
2. Space aliens, other worldly monsters, scary zombies, cool robots, or at the very least Ron Perlman.
3. Plenty of explosions which destroy property and/or motor vehicles.
4. A complete lack of Katherine Heigl.
Hold onto your hats folks because I have found a movie that has scored a perfect 100% on the DVD Critics Corner Movie Worthiness Checklist (pat. pend.).
It’s Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s action epic tribute to the Japanese monster movies we all know and love!
It’s got monsters! It’s got robots! It’s got destruction! It has Ron Perlman! It has absolutely no Katherine Heigl!
A movie that satisfies all my prerequisites at this special time of year? It’s a Christmas miracle!
Here is a bunch of things that happen in the movie:
In the not too distant future, Earth is just fine until a bunch of giant monsters begin attacking it! These towering creatures (known as Kaijus) are coming from another dimension through a portal in the Pacific Ocean and are determined to wipe out all the people; even the really nice ones who say please and thank you.
When conventional weapons fail to slow down the Kaiju attacks, the governments of the Pacific Rim nations decide the best way to fight these monsters is with equally giant robots with supercool weapons, because the governments of the Pacific Rim nations are run by nine year old boys.
The giant robots (named Jaegers) battle the Kaijus for the survival of Earth, but as the the years go by the Kaijus get bigger and stronger and their attacks become more frequent, leaving the humans with little hope for survival and a huge stack of giant robot repair bills.
The last four super Jaeger bots gather in Hong Kong where for some reason it always rains to end the war by destroying the portal and sending those monsters back to the computer generated heck they came from!
Commander Pentacost (Idris Elba) recruits Raleigh (a well chiseled Charlie Hunnam) as his ace in the hole. A former Jaeger pilot who’s been out of the war for a while he may be the maverick who has the right stuff to ride into the danger zone and other movie cliches.
But Raleigh needs a co-pilot, since the robots need two people to work all of the controls and two brains that must be electronically linked to handle all of the complex computer stuff. Raleigh meets with several candidates who are physically and mentally up for the challenge, and settles on Moko (Rinko Kikuchi), an untested warrior who is loaded with determination, courage…
There’a plenty of action and excitement in Pacific Rim as huge robots punch huge monsters then huge huge weapons to slice and dice the monsters into tiny but still huge pieces. As I said before the movie is reminiscent of those 60’s Japanese monster movies featuring Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, and Mothra: The Big Stupid Moth that Nobody Liked. But instead of men in rubber suits smashing scale model buildings and fighter jets, millions of computer guys created every monster, robot, ocean, city, and explosion in Pacific Rim.
Which is what they do nowadays, and that’s okay I guess. Personally, I miss all the cool model buildings getting smashed and stepped on with the tiny explosions and the model jets flying around on clearly visible wires. What I’m trying to say is I like my special effects like I like my women; cheap and from the 1960s.
Pacific Rim is a great deal of fun with the fighting robots, evil monsters, a delightful cameo by everyone’s favorite thespian Ron Perlman, and the destruction of major (though computer generated) cities and property.
And no Katherine Heigl.
Best Christmas gift EVER.
Bunraku (2010) Director: Guy Moshe. Starring: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore. Rating: R for bloody violence and a few F bombs.
Isn’t Bunraku the Danish board game from the seventies that challenges your memory and is fun for the whole family?
No. That’s Husker Du.
Isn’t Bunraku those bite sized kangaroo shaped cookies by Betty Crocker that came packaged with flavored dipping sauces?
No, those were Dunk-a-roos.
I know! Isn’t Bunraku a bizarre kung-fu action/fantasy movie that barely made it to theaters last year?
You are correct person I’m pretending to have a conversation with for the sake of this bit!
Bunraku is set in a weird parallel universe where guns don’t exist, it’s always night, and everyone lives on a soundstage. Mysterious crime boss Nicola (Ron Perlman, the hardest working man in B movies) rules most of Asia with an iron fist and a really big axe. Nicola’s red suited henchmen terrorize the citizens of whatever city Bunraku is set in – I think its Tokyo or Shanghai but without all the Asians.
Into town rolls a stranger named Drifter played by Josh Hartnett who God bless him is still trying to make a go of this acting thing. Drifter, whose fists are as mighty as his mustache is thin, wants to kill Nicola and is willing to pummel anyone who gets in his way. Arriving in town at almost the same time is a long haired samurai named Yoshi (played by Japanese pop singer Gackt, who looks like a more effeminate David Bowie, if that’s possible) who wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola. After a rough start involving a few fights and both of them muttering their lines like the dialogue was a secret, Drifter and Yoshi decide to join forces to beat everyone up together.
With the help of The Bartender (played by Woody Harrelson who played a bartender on that NBC sitcom your parents used to watch… no, not Friends, how old are you?) they pick away at Nicola’s army of kung fu fighters in a series of highly choreographed fight scenes until they face off against Nicola himself. We also learn that like Yoshi, Drifter wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola . Apparently Nicola has killed a lot of Dads.
The problem with Bunraku (aside from the fact that for an action movie it moves along at the same pace as a college lecture on the history of wool) is that the film is like a tasty ice cream sundae that went overboard on the toppings.
It’s got the greenscreened backgrounds like Sin City and The Spirit mixed with the comic book color scheme of Dick Tracy slathered with the trippy pseudo reality of Speed Racer, topped off with the campiness of the Batman TV series and sprinkled with video game themes and spaghetti western cliches.
If you have too many toppings on your sundae, you’re just being wasteful and gluttonous and you’ll wind up getting very sick in the back of the station wagon and puking all over your brother’s book bag.
That didn’t happen to me. It was another movie reviewer friend of mine.
In conclusion, Banraku was a noble effort, but overall it’s big on the toppings and kind of boring and vanilla on the inside.
That’s not to say vanilla is bad. I like vanilla. With a little hot fudge and whipped cream. Mmmm, tasty. I wonder if the Coldstone up the street is open yet…