Greetings! Have you ever wondered if a movie's worth blowing the money on to see at the theater or what to add next to your NetFlix queue? Then you've come to the right place! Enjoy!

July 2013 Review Roundup

A busier month, but not a better month in overall quality. Odd that the movie I enjoyed watching the most was one of the worst-reviewed of the year.

July 2: Pacific Rim (5/10); World War Z (6/10); White House Down (6/10)
July 3 - Chronicle (7/10)
July 13 - Spring Breakers (5/10); Movie 43 (6/10)
July 20 - The Runaways (5/10)
July 22 - Olympus Has Fallen (4/10)
July 25 - Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways (5/10)
July 28 - The Wolverine (7/10)

Most Enjoyed: Movie 43
Least Enjoyed: Olympus Has Fallen

Month's Movies Watched: 10
Previously Unseen: 9
Theatrical:  4
Home: 6
Year-To-Date: 47
YTD First-Timers: 42
YTD Theatrical: 14
YTD Home: 33

"The Wolverine" Review

Everyone hates X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I don't - I mean it's got problems with too many characters and a totally poochscrew of Deadpool at the end which made everyone mad - but compared to real garbage like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Elektra, it's an OK flick. That said, everyone is comparing The Wolverine to Origins when they should be judging it on an independent basis and on that basis, it's a good movie, though it stumbles toward the end due to our old friend, poor writing-by-committee.

This is a direct continuation of X-Men: The Last Stand - another movie everyone claims to hate beyond its flaws - with Logan (the even more ripped HUGE JACKEDMAN) living in a cave in Alaska or Canuckia, drinking whiskey and having nightmares in which Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), his lady love whom he had to kill at the end of the last movie, appears to him, basically encouraging him to die and join her in eternity. He's Emo Grizzly Adams.

While getting into a scrap with some illegal hunters in town, he's assisted (like he needs help!) by Yukio (newcomer Rila Fukushima), a kickass anime-looking chick with a wicked sword who has been sent by her boss, a billionaire Japanese tycoon whose life Logan saved while in a prison camp outside of Nagasaki when an atomic bomb was dropped on it. He's old and dying, but wants to thank Wolverine by taking away his immortality. (Yeah, kind of a weird thanks, no?) After the old man dies, Yakuza thugs attack the funeral and attempt to kidnap his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). While rescuing her, Logan is shot and for some reason isn't healing like normal. Something has happened and he's vulnerable.

Partially based on an acclaimed run by Chris Clairmont and Frank Miller (I haven't read it), there were high hopes, especially when Darren Aronofsky - who directed Jackman to what should've been an Oscar nom in The Fountain - was supposed to direct, but after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant disaster he bowed out and James Mangold (Walk the Line and Girl, Interupted; both of which earned acting Oscars for Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie, respectively) stepped in and does a good job with things. The action scenes are respectable, but it's even better in the quieter moments that allow Jackman to get into the conflicted state he's in. The best parts of the first two X-Men movies were the moments in which you really got the feeling that while superpowers are nice, not being alone because of those powers because the world is terrified of you would be better.

Where The Wolverine gets its paw stuck in a trap is the convoluted plot involving the old man, control of his company, that he skipped his son in favor of his grandfather and what side the Yakuza and a ninja army are on. By the time we get to the third act and the obligatory, studio-pleasing battle royale between Logan and a giant metal mecha-samurai (thus enraging nerd purists about the Silver Samurai), it's all cards produced from sleeves and who cares? It doesn't help that Mariko is too bland to be a compelling love interest, too. She's attractive, but dull. Give me the weird ninja chick any day.

Still, it's good to see Wolverine slashing (bloodlessly) up the silver screen again and make sure to sit through the first part of the end credits (you don't need to wait until the end like others have done) for a very cool scene which directly sets up next year's uber-team-up, X-Men: Days of Futures Past.

Score: 7/10. Catch a matinee.

"Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways" DVD Review

As further prep for my interview with Cherie Currie I watched Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways, a film by one of the band's bassists, Vicki Blue (ne Victory Tischler-Blue), released in 2004. Unlike the Hollywood take on the band which focused primary on Joan Jett and Currie, Edgeplay has Currie, guitarist Lita Ford, original bassist Jackie Fox, drummer Sandy West, and Svengali Kim Fowley - but no Joan Jett, a MAJOR problem - telling their story in their own words, albeit with a slant that my later interview explored. (Hit the link above and check out the second part of the transcript for Currie's problems with it.)

The lack of participation from Jett really cripples the movie because without the rights to use the music she wrote, that means there's almost no footage of the band performing other than covers of "Wild Thing" and Lou Reed's "Rock & Roll." The rest of the score is monotonous background tunelesses of Suzi Quatro and Lita Ford tracks that are sonic wallpaper, not a proper score. Blue's use of self-indulgent editing techniques like making the image B&W and grainy also gets tiresome quickly.

While there are some interesting details to be learned, this is mostly a fan-only flick for those deeply into the band than most. Combined with The Runaways, you get a partial picture of what it was like for the band, but it skews too heavily into the soap opera and drama than the music of this seminal act.

Score: 5/10. Rent it if you're a fan.

YouTube playlist with the whole movie. Yay for copyright infringement.

"Olympus Has Fallen" Review

The first of the two "White House invasion" flicks to come out this year suffers from being not as much fun as White House Down, the second of this pair to come out, but the one I saw first.

Gerard Butler serves as a Secret Service Agent to President Aaron Eckhart. (A white male President?! Wat?) After a bizarre auto accident claims the life of the First Lady, he's tossed of the President's detail for the sin of saving the President and not his wife. (Huh?) Some time later, while a Korean delegation is visiting the White House, an AC-130 gunship appears and opens fire on the White House while a simultaneous ground assault occurs. As he's evacuated to the Secret Underground Bunker, the President nobly commands the security to bring his guests along (yay!) only to discover too late that they're part of the attack force (whoops!).

With the White House, the President and many top Cabinet officials held captive - at least Morgan Freeman is able to step in as Acting President (whew, we're saved!) - it's a good thing there's a disgraced Secret Service agent willing to single-handedly take on over three dozen heavily armed attackers while others second-guess whether he can be trusted given his supposedly shameful past record. (No, I'm not kidding. These are the same clown characters who never trusted Jack Bauer on 24 either.)

Compared to White House Down, Olympus Has Fallen is darker, grittier, more bleakly violent and frankly less fun than the Tatum-Foxx flick. There are too many plot holes like what if the President had adhered to protocol and left the delegation to fend for themselves? Oh, and there's a traitor in the midst with an personal axe to grind again? Peachy. Both of these White House invasion movies were dopey and someone offensive, but at least White House Down had a brighter, more entertaining wrapping.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.

"The Runaways" Blu-ray Review

Rewatched in prep for an interview with Cherie Currie later this week. My theatrical review was here and the Blu-ray was covered here.

UPDATE: The interview, which ran 85 minutes with music(!), can be heard at the Culture Vultures Radio website: Cherie: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway.

"Movie 43" Review

Frequently when watching a lousy movie, one tends to rhetorically ask, "How did this movie get made?" The underlying premise is that surely someone had to have realized the the script was junk or that the dailies showed it wasn't getting better on film, etc. However, the question REALLY applies with the mind-boggling in its very existence Movie 43, in which Oscar winners and nominees - we're talking serious AAA talents - gleefully appear in the lowest of lowbrow raunchy comedy. While rocking a tragic 4% at Rotten Tomatoes, the truth is that Movie 43 is pretty funny, but a huge chunk of the laughs come from exclaiming, "OMG! Is that [insert Big Star name here]?!?!? I can't believe it!" repeatedly.

Using a framing device of teenagers trying to find the legendary "Movie 43" online (more later about this), they search from short vignette to another (think Kentucky Fried Movie or Amazon Women on the Moon) opening with the jaw-dropping spectacle of Oscar winner Kate Winslet on a blind date with a super-eligible bachelor played by Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman who has a massive scrotum dangling from under his chin and no one else seems to notice. No, I'm not kidding.

Subsequent scenes feature real-life couples Liev Schreiber and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts as parents home-schooling their son, but making sure he gets the full high school experience by hazing him mercilessly and Ana Faris and Chris Pratt dealing with her scatological sexual request. Oscar winner Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant engage in a massively out-of-hand first date edition of Truth or Dare; Emma Stone and Keiran Culkan are romantic young lovers sexually insulting each other at a supermarket checkout line with the whole store listening in on the PA; Josh Duhamel and Elizabeth Banks have a cartoon cat coming between them; speed-dating for Robin (Justin Long) is complicated by Batman (Jason Sudakis) showing up and being a total dick while Supergirl (Kristen Bell) is at the table; Chloe Grace Moretz is a girl having her first period in a house full of stupid guys in terror; and Oscar nominee Terrance Howard is a basketball coach in 1959 trying to deliver a pep talk to his doubting all-black team before the championship game, his basic point being, "You're black. They're white. This isn't hockey!"

While many of the sketches drag on too long (see Shakespeare's admonition about brevity, please) there are a lot of hearty laughs in Movie 43 if you're not too snooty about things and are smarter than a 2-1/2 Men mouth-breather. Just be warned that this isn't going to be Noel Coward; more like Moe Howard. I'm a huge fan of Kentucky Fried Movie (which is out on Blu-ray now; w00t!) and Movie 43 is nowhere near that classic's brilliance, but still laughs enough.

About the framing segments: When it came out in theaters for about a day, I remember the reviews mentioning these shorts were movie ideas being pitched by a desperate writer. If you look at the IMDB listing, it shows Dennis Quaid and Greg Kinnear were in it as opposed to the unknowns (plus Fisher Stevens) in the home version. It's a totally different story and I have no idea why they redid it all in what has to have been a more elaborate fashion just for the home game.

UPDATE: Apparently there were different versions for the UK and US markets, but I can't find out why, mostly because the writers of the stories hate the movie so much they don't want to be arsed. Real pro work, guys

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.

"Spring Breakers" Review

The pregame hype on writer-director Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers revolved around three of its stars being Disney kiddy stars (Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) or from tween fave Pretty Little Liars (Ashley Benson) and whether they were going to dirty up their squeaky clean images with some nudity in the course of its tale of young stupid girls on a rampage. Even Gomez seemed to hint that she'd disrobed, so when the film premiered the first (and only) question the pervs on the Internet wanted to know was "who gave up the goods?" It turned out nobody by Korine's wife, Rachel, but with the prurient interest out of the way, we can get onto whether Spring Breakers is a quality film? A: Ummm, not really, but it is an interesting mood experiment in editing and tone.

It starts a little on-the-nose with Gomez's Faith, a girl attending a Christian university it appears. (Get it? Faith? Moving on...) She's friends with Korine, Benson and Hudgens and they yearn to get away for spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, but they lack the cash until all the girls who aren't faith rob a diner with a squirt gun and a hammer. They torch the getaway ride and head for the sun, sand, booze, blow and mayhem of spring break.

Once there, of course, things take a turn for the worse as they are busted by the cops and tossed in jail. They can't pay the bail and are scared to call home, so it appears they'll languish if not for the assistance of hustler-dealer-rapper Alien (a totally-committed and nearly unrecognizable James Franco) who bails them out and wants to show them a good time. You don't need Google Maps to tell that this voyage is about to make some dark turns and by the end of the journey, you'll probably not have any idea where you are, where you were and who the people you were with were, but you'll be plenty certain you took a trip.

What's interesting about Spring Breakers is the way there are constant flash-forwards, flashbacks, and repetition of scenes and dialog with different contexts providing different results. We hear them calling home and lying to their grandmothers about what they're doing while slow-motion booty-shaking videos or see them passed out someplace. There are constant sound effects of guns being cocked (this gets grating pretty quickly) and we're constantly aware that bad things are upcoming, not that the present is all that much fun, no matter what they claim.

While the movie opens with a pounding Skrillex track over neon-garish footage of topless bimbos shaking their boobs and having beer poured over their chests by simian frat boys. It's absolutely repulsive and I'm pretty sure that's what Korine was going for. If anyone looks at these bacchanals and thinks this looks like a good time, they're as stupid as the quartet of girls.

The greater problem the movie has is that we don't really know who these girls are. They are simply behavior without motivation for the most part and when the final scenes unspool, it's even more detached from the unreality established beforehand. It's hard to root for people who are cyphers. What motivates their violent urges? Korine could've been more explicit.

There is also a weird ironic vibe going on with a big subplot involving Alien's problems with his former drug-dealing partner who now resents Alien working "his" streets and justifying calling for his murder to his posse while holding a baby, claiming that Alien is taking food out of her mouth - "My baby is hungry." - while sitting in a massive mansion with a Lamborghini parked out front.

While the performances are OK from the girls, with Hudgens and Benson putting a few dents in their images, the hands-down standout turn is Franco's Alien. While Franco has done some respectable work, he too often seems to be floating along on charm and a smirk, but here he is 110% in the game with a Dirrrty South drawl, a mouthful of gold grill, braided hair and a whole lotta guns, money, drugs and swagger.

If you're looking for a meaningful expose of wasted youth culture, you won't find it here; it's too scattered and fragmented in structure. Want to see boobs? You're already on the Internet; go find 'em - Vanessa Hudgens has nude photos out there revealing hella more than you'll see in Spring Breakers. But if you're in the mood for an experimental editing extravaganza and an off-the-chain performance from James Franco - plus anonymous bimbo boobs - then give it a peek.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.

"Chronicle" Blu-ray Review

Superhero origin stories generally follow a typical format: Normal Joe is exposed to some body-altering radiation/substance/whatever which imbues with them with great powers which they then use for good. While this also tends to be the origin of supervillains, what makes director Josh Trank's debut Chronicle an effective take on the genre is that it shows what happens when three teenagers are changed by exposure to a mysterious crystal and what they do with their powers.

Not based on a comic book, Chronicle takes its time setting up its characters: Andrew is an introvert whose mother is dying of cancer, his dad is a abusive drunk, and he's bullied at school; Matt, his cousin, is a philosophy-loving fellow student at his school; and Steve is the cool, popular guy at school who doesn't abuse Andrew. One night, they discover a tunnel in the ground which leads to the crystal and their transformation. What follows is a fairly realistic depiction of how kids would react if they suddenly got powers. They goof off, pull pranks, and when they learn they can fly they plan to see the world.

Of course life doesn't work out thanks to Andrew whose fury at his life manifests itself in increasingly dangerous and deadly ways. While Spider-Man told us that, "With great power comes great responsibility," Chronicle's lesson can be summed up as, "Don't give an angry kid the means to exact revenge on his tormenters because it's not going to turn out well for anyone." While the trailer telegraphs where the story will go, what makes it more than just a supervillain origin story is Dane DeHaan's performance as Andrew and Max Landis' script. Andrew isn't a bad kid using his power for evil; he's just snapping and can telekinetically throw a bus at you.

What hampers this small character study is the use of a "found footage" structure in which we're supposed to believe Andrew is videotaping everything he does and that it looks like Arri Alexa footage. While movies like Paranormal Activity use the conceit of security cameras to explain the footage, too many movies are using it when they could've been more effectively executed in a traditional manner. End of Watch was a recent example where it starts off found footage and then breaks to standard shooting for large swaths. Just tell your story normally rather than explain that Andrew can psychically control the camera like a Steadicam. (This really blows up in Trank's face when we're supposed to believe that when Andrew is hospitalized in a coma and the camera is set up on a tripod at the foot of the bed. Who did this?)

Scant extras, but it looks and sounds OK considering how it's supposed to be a camcorder.

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable.

"White House Down" Review

After the impromptu double-feature of Pacific Rim and World War Z, the missus and I were heading for the exit when we passed by the room and realized White House Down was about to begin. So, a quick left turn and away we went for the hat trick.

The second of 2013's "bad guys have invaded the White House" flicks (the other being Olympus Has Fallen, which I haven't seen yet), this one stars Channing Tatum has a slab of ham who wants to be a Secret Service agent and Jamie Foxx as Obama. (Not really, but what else are we supposed to think?) This time it's the Evil Military-Industrial Complex - or more accurately, the sleazy politicians in their thrall - are the villains. But of course.

While WHD's politics are specious, the movie itself is a decent Die Hard ripoff and dumb fun, especially in the part with a White House tour guy held hostage with Tatum's daughter. It didn't need the political garbage, but director Roland Emmerich also made The Day After Tomorrow with an Evil Darth Cheney caricature and killer weather. He's a liberal hack, but he makes the noisy things go boom and it's not as heavy-handed as if could've been.

Score: 6/10. Rent it.

Or just watch this extended trailer which pretty much spells it all out.

"World War Z" Review

After the crushing disappointment that was Pacific Rim, it was up to Brad Pitt's World War Z to try and salvage the evening at the multiplex. For the most part it succeeds because it's pretty smart until it gets dumb in the third act.

I haven't read the source book which I understand is constructed as an oral history documenting a global zombie plague. Since that doesn't make for many cinematic thrills, they've turned it into a pandemic tale/chase flick in which Pitt, a retired UN guy, is forced to trot the globe searching for the source of the zombie epidemic. He goes to Korea, then to Israel, finally ending up in Wales having close calls and adventure every step of the way.

When World War Z is being smart, it's very smart - showing us how fast bitten victims turn into monsters themselves and taping thick magazines over his forearms and calves to ward off bites. But as things progress, dumb things happen that get people killed until it seems that stupidity is the zombies best ally. When they finally get to Wales, it really starts having a case of the "Yeah, right"s until at one point Pitt is literally being the dumb girl in a horror movie setting down his weapon for no reason other than the story demands he be disarmed.

The last act was famously rewritten and I sorta hope the Blu-ray includes the massive amount of stuff they shot before realizing they were barking up the wrong tree. A common problem with movies this summer has been poor scripting and when you end up scrapping a third act, it makes one wonder if the suits at the studios really know what they're reading before sending massive productions out to shoot.

Pitt is good as always and the action is frenzied buy coherent, though generally ridiculous. It's just too bad that the zombies caught the screenplay before it was done.

Score: 6/10. Catch a matinee of you're a fan of FAST zombies; otherwise rent it.

"Pacific Rim 3D" Review

The excitement of film nerds for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim has been mounting for a year. Giant mech robots vs. Godzilla-esque monsters from the director of Hellboy? What could be better than that? This is your chance to revisit your childhood Monster Week on the Channel 7 4 o'clock Movie, right?

If only.

While reviews are time-stamped with the day and time I watched the movie (note: if I start watching something at 1 am, it gets listed as 11:55 pm the prior calendar day), I sometimes don't get around to writing the review for a while and in the 16 days ensuing my viewing of this film, which is opening the day I write this (July 18, over two full weeks later), I've witnessed some depths of crazy-talk and self-delusion that is rather depressing to witness. Everything from declarations that this is "the next Star Wars" to "Who cares if the story is cheesy? It's got robots fighting monsters! Pew pew pew!!" Everyone wants to love this movie so much that they're either blind to or apathetic of the simple, sad reality that it's a huge missed opportunity.

The trailer sets up the basics, so I'm going to skip to the first warning sign which comes after a lengthy Basil Exposition dissertation (a bunch of which is in the trailer) which sets up the world of Pacific Rim. When we're introduced to Charlie Hunnam and his brother suiting up to go to battle, his brother actual parrots Han Solo, saying, "That's great, kid. Don't get cocky." The dialog was clunking already, but this smacked of fan-fiction.

After his brother is killed in battle - you need your inciting incident according to Screenwriting 101 books - Hunnam spends five years hiding out as a construction worker in Alaska rather than carrying on the fight. That is until Idris Elba (with the ridiculous name of Stacker Pentecost - his folks must've been Folder and former Miss Shamwow Yomkippur - and an indeterminate accent) comes to guilt him into coming back to participate in humanity's last stand against the kaiju.

Here's where the dumbness really starts to manifest. As the kaijus have grown stronger, they've been beating the jaegers (the giant robots whose names mean "hunter" in German or that's what del Toro likes to drink; thank God he wasn't a Bud Lite fan) and so the governments of the world have decided building a 300-foot-tall wall along their coastlines and cowering behind it is better than trying to fight them. (No, really.)

With the world's four remaining jaegers - Hunnam's Gipsy Danger (that's not offensive to pickpockets at all), Australia's Maul Hogan, China's Foxconn Thunder, and Russia's Smirnov Punchikov (note: I've renamed the last three because) - bunkered in Hong Kong, the plan is to close the inter-dimensional rift on the Pacific Ocean floor with a big ol' nuke because when there's a problem with asteroids or comets, the Earth's core slowing or the sun dying out, or monsters from someplace else are attacking, the go to solution is always to blow it up real good with a big ol' nuke. As long as the monsters don't decide to attack someplace else, for example, THE ENTIRE PACIFIC RIM OTHER THAN HONG FREAKING KONG, the plan should work. Right?

But first comes the need for a co-pilot for Hunnam. You see, in another stupid idea, we're supposed to believe that these giant robots require so much brain power to control that one pilot couldn't manage without brain damage - except for the two guys who have done it, like Hunnam and one other whom you won't be surprised by - so two pilots have to be neurally-linked in a mind meld called the "drift" (catch it?) which allows them to see and feel each others memories and emotions and move in total synchronization except when they are independently flipping switches and giving verbal commands to the robots. That's right: The pilots are mentally linked to the machine, but can't just think, "PUNCH THE MONSTER! FIRE THE MISSILES!" They have to move around like they're in some sort of elliptical trainer-slash-Dance Dance Revolution machine. Huh? (I guess running these from a remote location was too intelligent, too?)

Let me interrupt myself for a moment to set my thesis for the rest of my criticism of Pacific Rim, namely that what kills this movie dead in the logic department is that screenwriters Travis Beacham (who typed the none-too-swift Clash of the Titans remake) and del Toro made of list of "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" moments and threw them on the screen without regard to whether they made any sense at all. You've been warned. The review continues in 3...2...

In order to find a new mental wingman who is "drift-compatible" Elba and his assistant Rinko Kikuchi (Oscar-nominee for Babel; she was the Japanese girl without panties) they have Hunnam stick-fighting a bunch of red shirts. None of them fit the bill, so over Elba's objections, because they have a Personal Connection Which We're Supposed To Be Too Stupid To Figure Out, Hunnam stick fights Rinko in the scene ripped-off from The Final Flight of the Osiris segment which opened The Animatrix. Of course, they are a perfect match and it's like a foreplay scene, because nudge-nudge. She also sees him with his shirt off, so you think there's a chance for romance in the End Times for these two?

Of course she has a Traumatic Past which leads to problems when first plugged into Hunnam's brain as she gets lost in a memory and almost kills everyone in the hanger and leads us to the spectacle of controllers unplugging computers to shut down the robot which would be like air traffic controllers switching off their monitors to prevent a collision between airliners. So dumb.

This leads to the greatest problem with this Drift nonsense: It is only used to dramatize a scene which normally would've been handled in a conversation, perhaps with a flashback. But that wouldn't have been cool! Remember the scene in Disclosure - the Michael Douglas-Demi Moore movie about sexual harassment - where Douglas uses a virtual reality rig to go into cyberspace to locate a file? Strip away all the CGI and what is the scene showing? A: Breaking into an office and going through a file cabinet. Not very exciting, but glitzing things up unnecessarily doesn't make it cool, just means you spent money on bling.

Then there's the issue of the other Jaeger teams. There is plenty of the macho dick-waving BS trope which undercuts the whole "We're the last line of defense to save the world" message. So shackled to the trope-by-numbers plotting which demands that the pilots disrespect each other before learning to grudgingly respect each other, then VICTORY!, that it's a tiresome grind. Not one plot point or line of dialog has spark or wit other than the explanation how Ron Perlman's character got his name. Wow. One whole line in two hours. Anyone who is surprised by anything in this movie has never seen a movie before.

The apologists for this sorry mess have trotted out the word "archetype" to excuse the flat formula. While Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces explicated the typical "hero's journey" as seen in everything from Star Wars on, what Pacific Rim does is take the familiar milestones and make them as dull, boring, stupid, incomprehensible, lazy and insulting to sentient life as possible.

I get that movies have formulas, but look at Real Steel, the smaller-scale robot fighting movie. Every single beat of that movie was also predictable, BUT it told its familiar story with flair, charm, warmth and winning performances. When the kid starts dancing around and Atom (the robot) mimics his moves and they decide to make it part of the act, it makes you smile because this is exactly what a kid with a robot would do! A skilled interpreter can make a familiar song or story seem fresh - anyone want to dispute that Johnny Cash stole "Hurt" from Nine Inch Nails? - and while Real Steel used the audience's familiarity with the form as a foundation to riff and razzle dazzle in the execution, Pacific Rim clanks like a rusty Dumpster at every turn. There's a difference between simple, simplistic, simple-minded and f*cking retarded and Pacific Rim manages to blow right through that last adjective.

Wait, I almost forgot the stupidest part! Charlie Day - whom I consider the poor man's Bobcat Goldthwait Jr. - appears as a kaiju scientist who is trying to discover what their plan is and what he does should obligate anyone who howled with outrage at the idea of a MacBook being able to interface with an alien spaceship in Independence Day to plant a virus to get up and walk out of the theater. Again, it's something put in because they mistakenly thought it'd be cool. It's not. It's ridiculous.

I know there's many who are taking the view of, "So what? It's kaijus fighting robots! Pew pew pew!" but that's the most annoying aspect about the post-release responses; the battles aren't that impressive. They're slow, ponderous, hidden by darkness and rain and ocean. Sure, there are a few cool moves, but that's like saying not everything in the meal caused food poisoning. When the awesome trailer money shot of the freighter being used as a club arrived, I didn't care because I was bored to death by the tedium.

If this review sounds more like a primal scream than a dispassionate analysis it's because I walked into the theater expecting to have my hair blown back and my inner child entertained and two hours later I was so disappointed - my girlfriend HATED it and she was as stoked as I was - and as I've watched people deluding themselves and misleading others that this is a fun time, my disappointment has turned into anger I haven't felt since The Dark Knight Reloaded took a kaiju-sized dump on Christopher Nolan's CV.

I realize that opinions are subjective, but in this case as with TDKR, that doesn't cut it: Those who like these movies are WRONG. Factually incorrect. Nerds are whoring themselves out so cheaply. They want to love it or love del Toro or something, but to give a pass to such a poorly scripted movie is to abandon standards for nothing. If you like this, you can never complain about Michael Bay or Paul W.S. Anderson again for their dumb flicks.

What's so depressing is that it didn't need to be this stupid. People are coming to see monster fights, so why not aspire to better storytelling? This is why the archetype defense is so feeble. Star Wars had the young man leaving up to battle evil, but it did so in a universe of evil Empire, scrappy Rebels, Jedi Knights, droids, monster bars, walking carpet co-pilots, a spunky princess, a charming rogue, and the muthaf*ckin' Force, yo! It was rich and detailed and has expanded into a broader universe for over 35 years. Pacific Rim has a three-armed robot piloted by triplets that you never get a good look at so the casting of real triplets is mooted.

In a featurette trying to explain the Drift, GDT spoke about how he thought it fascinating how figure skaters could dislike each other off the ice yet work in perfect sync while skating. Why didn't he explore that concept into the movie? Wouldn't it have been more interesting if Hunnam was a total chauvinist pig and Rinko was a lesbian and they hated each other, but were the best matches for drifting and thus had to work to save the world? That's just one little idea, which apparently there was no budget for ideas beyond kaiju feet that are never seen.

I could ramble on and on about other dumb things like the shot of the head of Gipsy Danger sliding hundreds of feet down a chute to mate with the body when it's never seen shown separated and makes no sense that it'd be detachable when it does hand-to-hand combat with kaijus. It's just something that they thought would look cool, logic be damned. Then there's the character who's been dying of radiation sickness for 15 years. Unreal.

If there's been a thread that's connected the disappointing movies of this summer, it's been timid, lazy writing undercutting the hundred million dollars in pixels pushed to make big noisy meaningless mayhem that is forgotten the moment it passes before the eyes. I've seen reviewers say there are images they'll be replaying in their minds forever from Pacific Rim and I wonder if it's the lapdance the studio provided or the flashbacks from inhaling aerosolized LSD for two hours in the theater?

The final insult from defenders is that sane people who can see the kaijus and jaegers have no clothes aren't "getting it" or "not the intended audience" or "are joyless dunces." No, I'm just not a cheap date who accepts any old crap and says thank you for it. It's almost certain that the all-Asian porno spoof - do I need to say the inevitable title? - will have more inspiration than the source material did.

Score: 5/10. Catch a matinee; 2D is fine.

DirkFlix. Copyright 2010-2015 Dirk Omnimedia Inc. All rights reserved.
Free WordPress Themes Presented by EZwpthemes.
Bloggerized by Miss Dothy