A.C. at the Movies

night-at-the-movies

Check out this weeks movie review.

Pacific Rim: Mind-blowing visuals, mindless story

TWO AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS

This movie is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language

Of all the movies coming out this summer, I was maybe most excited for this one.  Giant robots fighting giant monsters, all done by the visionary director Guillermo Del Toro.  It sounds like it was dreamed up in some vibrant corner of geek heaven, and yet, it ended up being all style and no substance.

pacific_rimc  Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  This movie is one of the most fantastic visual experiences I’ve ever had in a theater.  The battle sequences between the giant robots and giant monsters are some of the most amazing and exhilarating things I’ve ever seen in a film.  If you’re at all interested in such things, you should go see this movie in theaters, as you’ll never be able to recreate the experience of the beautiful digital screen and ear splitting speakers at home.

So yeah, it looks brilliant.  The problem is, just about every moment outside of the action sequences is as dumb as it gets.  The movie was always going to be perceived as a flashy but shallow film, and it overcompensates by complicating the plot for no reason at all.  Layers are stacked upon layers in what quickly becomes a mess of a story.  You’d think humanity defending itself against giant monsters from another dimension would be good enough for a plot, but the film throws in back stories, sub-plots, and distractions every few minutes.  What was likely an attempt to deepen the film just makes it hard to follow and gets you checking your watch as you wait for the next action sequence.

It doesn’t help things that the characters in the film are all immediately forgettable.  The emotionally damaged hero, the wannabe hero with vengeance in her heart, the secret keeping boss who deep down really cares, the egomaniac who can’t admit he loves everyone around him, it’s like a rolodex of the most overused character clichés from the history of film.  It doesn’t help that none of the actors involved does much to elevate the roles, aside from maybe Idris Elba, who is just awesome in general.

I would have loved to tell you I loved Pacific Rim.  It’s the kind of movie that my friends and I have dreamed about seeing for a decade, and I’m glad someone like Del Toro finally made it.  Sadly, it just wasn’t anything resembling a great film.  It’s a visual marvel, and one I think is worth checking out, but it’s got a story that’s an absolute liability.  Clichés hit a mile a minute, there are plot holes big enough for a giant monster to walk through, and no one was able to step up and give a performance you could attach to.  But hey, you’ll get some eye-popping action sequences, and for me that was worth the price of admission.

Home Video Spotlight: Upside Down

THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS

This movie is rated PG-13 for some violence

I think even fans of romance movies can admit that the romance genre is pretty stale overall.  Just like horror movies, the typical romance film follows a paint by numbers plotline that goes from boy meets girl, to boy falls in love with girl, to boy gets girl, to boy does something dumb and loses girl, to boy is sorry and makes it right.  Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself a romance movie fan, but I crave original plots.  So when I saw Upside Down, a romance movie with a hugely original story, I was instantly interested.

The plot of Upside Down isn’t easily explained, but I’ll do my best.  It takes place on two planets that are so close together that they’re almost touching.  One hangs above, the other below, and they share an atmosphere.  Each world has its own gravity, and interaction with people from the other world is forbidden.

This doesn’t stop two young people from falling in love, however, when they chance across one another while out in the hills.  The extreme elevation of the region puts them almost within reach of one another, and over the years they fall deeply in love.  When that love is discovered, they are tragically separated.

Ten years later, the main character learns the whereabouts of his long lost love.  He embarks on a dangerous and ill advised mission to cross over onto her world, despite insurmountable obstacles that stand in his way.

So yeah, this is a very strange story to base a romance on.  There are elements of dystopia and science fiction, but what makes the movie work so well is how it doesn’t spend too much time focusing on them.  After a quick explanation, the movie just carries on as if these mirror worlds and their opposing gravities are commonplace.  That paves the way for you to just enjoy the characters and the interesting ways they have to interact with the world to come together.

One thing that makes this movie work so well is its star.  Jim Sturgess isn’t an instantly recognizable name, but it should be.  He’s an incredible actor, and someone I always enjoy.  As the lovesick man who will do anything for love, he’s perfect, and I was fully invested in his quest.  The woman he’s trying to reunite with is played by Kirsten Dunst, who while not the greatest actress, can be great in the right roles.  She’s charismatic and warm in this film, and does a great job carrying her side of the romance.

This isn’t a movie for everyone, as it’s a huge departure from the typical romance.  If you’re like me and looking for a little originality in the romance genre, then you’ll definitely want to check this out.  It’s incredibly inventive, and something I really enjoyed.

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