A Closer Look At Pacific Rim

July 14, 2013 at 7:41 am

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

MASSIVE MONSTERS ENDANGER WIDE SHOTS

Batman Begins was a phenomenal movie but the frantic fight sequences drew some criticism because they were difficult to follow. Ultimately, directing fights in this way is a choice and not all people disliked those scenes. I certainly learned to appreciate them over time.  Michael Bay’s original Tranformers suffered from similar complaints.  The action was filmed so close at times, it was difficult to discern which robot was which.

Guillermo Del Toro’s epic Pacific Rim is full of larger than life battles. Unfortunately, those battles are as frantic as Batman Begins and as difficult to follow as Transformers. Will I learn to appreciate these sequences more over time? I’m not so sure.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Pacific Rim.  On the contrary, I thought it was a refreshing change in a summer filled with established franchises and sequels.  The main reason I was so excited to see Pacific Rim was Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination.  The director puts so much talent and dedication into every creature he creates and you can see the effort on the screen.  The Kaiju & Jaegers are massive creations that feel real and when the camera does pull back, they are breathtaking to behold.

I just wish more of the film’s big fights took place during the day.  These giant monsters look their best during the day but the majority of the action takes place at night and it’s always raining.  This was the major reason why I found the fights a bit disorienting at times.  The shots are beautiful but edited so quickly, you barely have time to process what you’re seeing.  However, what I did process was pretty cool.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

In terms of story, the film does a pretty remarkable job overcoming an enormous amount of exposition in the first 25 minutes or so.  It’s a well put together opening that truly sets up all the action to come.  In terms of characters, I felt more connected to supporting roles rather than the two Hero pilots Raleigh and Mako.

Idris Elba steals the show here but leaves just enough for Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman to shine.  I don’t blame the screenwriters or the director for my lack of connection to the main characters.  It happens sometimes.  You can win over everybody.  In the end, it’s Elba’s Stacker Pentecost who truly drives Pacific Rim as an intimidating Marshall.  He’s the glue that pulls together many of the film’s pieces to allow for an emotionally satisfying end.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

Unfortunately, I don’t think it was enough as the film seems destined to be labelled a ‘bomb’ with it’s domestic numbers coming in lower than expected.  When the summer began, I expected Pacific Rim to perform more like Inception and less like John Carter or After Earth.  It’s a bit troubling because studios rarely bet on a new franchise.  They are tough to sell.  How do you introduce the world to a brand new world?  I think they did a good enough job to get at least a 60-70 million dollar opening weekend.  Hopefully it does well overseas.  I’d love to see a sequel to this some day.

Irony alert:  Isn’t it interesting that you praise a film for it’s originality in a world of sequels…  And then look forward to a sequel.  I suppose the film does wrap up it’s story pretty well.  Maybe this is a ‘one-and-done’ film.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

I had to see Pacific Rim.  I love big action movies in the summertime.  Every week, new heroes emerge to challenge for the coveted box office crown.  Pacific Rim is imaginative and entertaining.  It does a fantastic job creating a detailed world but doesn’t quite take full advantage of the huge assets that populate it.  A little less rain and a little more day light would have easily taken the film from a 6.5 to an 8 in my eyes.

Still, I signed up for giant monsters and robots and that’s exactly what I got so I think 7 is a fair number.

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A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out

June 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out Watching | Man of Steel Review 2

WELL…  I CAVED…

I thought I wouldn’t want to see Man of Steel in theaters twice but I was wrong.  On a rainy afternoon, I caught a nice relaxing matinee.  Turns out, Man of Steel is MUCH better the second time around.

REVIEW | Man of Steel is the Superman movie we wanted right?

I think my main issue with my first viewing was the lengthy first act.  It’s completely understandable that his iconic origin must be established.  There are many moments people expect to see but as I said in my review:

It’s interesting for such a fast paced movie to feel slow.  Time crawls when you can’t wait to see super speed.

I just wanted to see Superman in action.  My feelings about the movie changed once I finally saw the Man of Steel fly.  Well, watching the film a second time allowed me to truly appreciate the story free from the unbelievable anticipation I felt the first time.  Man of Steel has since become my favorite movie of 2013 thus far.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

I suppose it’s not fair to the other films I’ve seen as I’ve only seen them once.  I simply couldn’t resist watching the incredible action sequences on the big screen again.  I just didn’t expect my original complaints to disappear. Here are 10 things that stood out:

Editor’s Note:  I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that I can be an idiot sometimes.  It’s important to mention this for #10 to make sense.  Also there are spoilers ahead…

10. 20 MINUTES LATE!

I was reading movie news on the bus heading to the theater when I realized I may have missed my stop.  I pulled out the map on my iPhone and realized I had!  So I got off the bus.  It was 12:49 and the movie started at 1…  I was going to be late.  Thankfully, another bus going the opposite direction arrived quickly.  To my horror, I realized a few streets down the road that I was still going away from the theater.  And then I figured it out.  My map was upside down…  I shouldn’t have left the first bus.  I got to the theater at 1:19 thinking I had missed the first few scenes.

It turns out, I missed nothing.  I even got a chance to see the latest Pacific Rim trailer.  How could I be 20 minutes late and NOT miss any of the movie?  These commercials and trailers are out of control!

9.  FAORA IS A BAD ASS

The final fight maybe the highlight of the movie but this entire sequence was pretty awesome.

8.  IS THAT ACTUALLY CHRISTOPHER REEVE?

This story broke a few days before I saw Man of Steel the second time.  I was on full alert and I think I agree.  They CGI’d a frame of Christopher Reeve in there.

Read more about the story and see an animated GIF of the sequence here.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

7.  HENRY CAVILL IS SUPERMAN BUT IS HE CLARK KENT?

Clark Kent is Kal-El’s disguise but we rarely see him in public as an adult.  He spends much of the film hiding and it isn’t until the final moments when we get to see the real Clark Kent.  It’ll be interesting to see how Henry Cavill plays the role in the inevitable sequel.

6.  RUSSELL CROWE IS A SCENE STEALER

Jor-El is an integral part of Superman’s origin and Russell Crowe truly shines with many fantastic moments.

5. ZACK SNYDER IS AN AWESOME DIRECTOR

It’s not easy to craft shots when Superman is traveling at such high speeds but Snyder succeeds throughout the movie.  There are so many unbelievably creative shots.  Especially when Superman is at full speed.

Side Note: That World Engine is action is awesome.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

4. IT’S SUPERMAN!

When he finally arrives, they don’t waste anytime posing him in iconic ways.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

 3. LOIS & CLARK DIDN’T HAVE TO KISS

We know what’s coming.  I didn’t think they HAD to kiss.  Save some moments for the sequel.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

2. THE SCORE IS INCREDIBLE

Hans Zimmer did an absolutely spectacular job with the score.  It stayed with me after long after both viewings.  You can hear it in action in the trailer above or at length in the clip below:

1. FANTASTIC FLYING FIGHT

When Superman and Zod take to the skies in their epic final battle I was mesmerized.  I think it’s time to revisit this post:

5 Awesome Gravity Defying Movie Fights

Question: Which film caused more damage their respective final acts: The Avengers or Man of Steel?

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

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Zombie Movies: From A To World War Z

June 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

Zombie Movies: From A To World War Z | World War Z Review 2013

WORLD WAR Z PROMISED A WAR BUT DELIVERS A SKIRMISH

Fans of Zombie movies are much like the undead hordes they adore. No matter how many movies they devour, they always want more.

This is the best time to be a fan of the Zombie genre. With The Walking Dead delivering constant scares and fascinating character moments, the house that Romero built has never been stronger.

It was only a matter of time before a PG-13 Zombie film came along with big name stars and an epic scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Zombie movie fans aren’t used to this approach. The classics show you the devastation left in the wake of a world wide infection but the focus on a smaller group trying desperately to survive.

Is it possible to break that formula and deliver a Zombie movie that truly pulls back from the intimate approach?  Perhaps someday another movie will because World War Z doesn’t quite deliver on its epic concept.

My main issue with World War Z is it’s premise.  They set out to make a Zombie movie that shows the destruction a Zombie virus can cause on around the world.  This is definitely a nice change since the majority of Zombie movies are made on a budget and focus mainly on a single city.  The classics usually mention that much of the world is gone to add to the suspense.  Here we finally get to see a Zombie outbreak in multiple countries dealing with a variety of social and political situations.  The opportunities were endless…

My issue is with the film is the sudden abandonment of that premise in the third act.  Once again we find ourselves in a compound with a small group of survivors with an unreachable item they must acquire.  The problem is, they are also bound by the restrictions of a PG-13 rating.  It’s just not the same.

The other frustration I have is Brad Pitt’s mission.  He’s out to find the source and a cure.  In the film’s third act he simply abandons that mission and settles on a creative solution to hide us from the Zombies.  The smaller films can get by without providing these answers because they usually don’t focus on government operations.  They deal with a simple question:

What would you do to survive a Zombie apocalypse?

The ending felt lazy to me because the actual ‘war’ is shown as the final montage.  There are no answers are given for the outbreak, no real war delivered and no suspense due to the Kindergarten scares the film delivers.  I had high hopes for World War Z.  It definitely has it’s moments.  Namely, an airplane attack that could have been infinitely more terrifying if it took place in a film with a sinister rating.

All in all, it’s probably worth a look if you collect Zombie experiences.  That’s why I went to see it.  I was left wondering about all the moments the film hinted at and flew passed on the way to…  nothing.  And seriously?  No human being can be skewered by a piece of metal and run around pain free three days later.

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PS: Matthew Fox!  You think I didn’t see you but I did!  It’s a shame your scenes got cut.

Man of Steel Is The Superman Movie We Wanted Right?

June 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Man of Steel Is The Superman Movie We Wanted Right? | Man of Steel Review

ZACK SNYDER’S SUPERMAN THROWS PUNCHES!

I had my tickets to see Man of Steel two weeks before the film’s release.  I’ve written many articles about the film and broken down just about every trailer.  The more I saw, the more excited I became.  Could THIS be the Superman movie I’ve always wanted to see?  To say I was pumped would be a gigantic understatement.

When Superman Returns was released, I was incredibly disappointed in the lack of action as well as Lex Luther’s ‘land’ scheme.  That movie focused on Clark Kent and his integration into society but failed to deliver a Superman worthy of the big screen.  Man of Steel is very much the opposite.  This reboot focuses almost entirely on Kal-El and his integration into society.  Would humanity accept a savior from another world?  What would happen if an alien revealed his/herself today?  It’s a fascinating theme that lays the foundation for a Superman movie unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

I’m going to start at the end and work my way backwards.  The final hour of this movie is as big (if not bigger) than the finale of last year’s smash The Avengers.  The destruction caused by Superman and General Zod’s Metropolis death match is gargantuan.  Buildings crumble, roads are shattered and Zack Snyder delivers some of the most exciting action I’ve ever seen on the big screen.  Finally, the Man of Steel is unleashed with a worthy opponent backed by some spectacular visual effects and direction.

When I woke up this morning and gathered my thoughts for this review, all I could think about was the final act.  I can’t wait to see it again but I don’t think I’ll see it in theaters twice.  Why?  Because it took over 2 hours to get to the explosive finale.

Man of Steel Is The Superman Movie We Wanted Right? | Man of Steel Review

THE DARK KNIGHT THIS IS NOT

I think comparing Man of Steel to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy isn’t entirely fair.  True, they share a similar real world approach but there can only be one Dark Knight.  The one glaring difference between the two is the time it takes to establish the hero’s origin.  With Batman Begins, Nolan created an effective and exciting back story while remaining economical with screen time.

XTRA | Batman Begins a screenwriting rewrite.

We don’t even see Earth for nearly 30 minutes in Man of Steel.  From there we follow a broken timeline that mixes in important events from Clark’s youth as we follow his journey as an adult.  All the usual Superman moments are included but several scenes felt better suited as deleted scenes on the Blu Ray.

It’s interesting for such a fast paced movie to feel slow.  Time crawls when you can’t wait to see super speed.

Man of Steel Is The Superman Movie We Wanted Right? | Man of Steel Review

Still, it’s hard to fault a movie for providing such detail as they built up the universe’s mythology.  I think my excitement to see Superman in action worked against me as I waited.  Regardless, this movie definitely feels long in addition to actually being long.

I went in to Man of Steel thinking there was no way the film would earn less than 8/10.  When the credits rolled I was blown away by the action but surprisingly found myself considering a 6.  Upon further review, I decided that Man of Steel is a worth a trip to the theater.  It’s worth it because THIS is the best Superman movie I’ve ever seen.  Years ago, I was angry because there wasn’t enough action in Superman Returns.  Many fans were.  People demanded a Superman that threw punches and the talented filmmakers behind this epic delivered exactly what we asked for.

Man of Steel Is The Superman Movie We Wanted Right? | Man of Steel Review

This is a Superman movie filled with iconic moments and massive action set pieces.  It features a truly stellar cast with scene stealing performances by Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon and Amy Adams.  There are slower moments and an incredibly long build up to the enormous finale but in the end, it was entertaining.  A 7/10.

It may not redefine the superhero genre as many hoped but not all movies can be as big as The Avengers or as complex as The Dark Knight.

THIS IS THE SUPERMAN MOVIE I ASKED FOR

An action packed epic where Superman battles a worthy foe and holds nothing back.  Maybe I will catch it again on the big screen after all.

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Top 10 Moments: Game of Thrones Season 3

June 11, 2013 at 11:35 am

Top 10 Moments: Game of Thrones Season 3

Another spectacular season of Game of Thrones has come and gone.  The long wait for season 4 has begun but before we all hibernate for the winter, here is a recap of the best moments from season 3!

10. DAENERYS NEGOTIATES | The Bear and the Maiden Fair

9. CAT & JON HAVE HISTORY | Dark Wings, Dark Words

8. GO TO BED KING JOFFREY | Mhysa

7. THE VIEW ATOP THE WALL | The Climb

6. TYWIN VS TYRION | Valar Dohaeris

5. WHITE WALKERS! | Second Sons

4. THE KINGSLAYER’S HEART | Kissed by Fire

3.  NEED A HAND JAIME? | Walk of Punishment

2. DAENERYS CAN DEAL! | And now his watch is ended

1. THE RED WEDDING | The Rains of Castamere

CATCH UP:

Episode 1 Moment: Valar Dohaeris

Episode 2 Moment: Dark Wings, Dark Words

Episode 3 Moment: Walk of Punishment

Episode 4 Moment: And now his watch is ended

Episode 5 Moment: Kissed by fire

Episode 6 Moment: The Climb

Episode 7 Moment: The Bear and the Maiden Fair

Episode 8 Moment: Second Sons

Episode 9 Moment: The Rains of Castamere

Episode 10 Moment: Mhysa

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Top 10 Moments: Game of Thrones Season 3