The most fun you’ll have at a movie… guaranteed!
I hate the business of movies right now. I’ve been reading all week that Pacific Rim was “tracking” to be the latest expensive Hollywood flop… before the movie even opened. Then, the Thursday night business “surprised” analysts and suddenly it was “tracking” to open with $60 million… again, before the movie even opened.
I understand that studios regularly analyze and predict how much money their movies are going to generate, but when did it become newsworthy for the average consumer to have access to this knowledge? I thought maybe I was aware of the phenomenon because I follow so many industry Twitter feeds; however, this information is now reported in the Weekly Reader of newspapers, USA Today.
I fear the result of such SPECULATION being consumed by the masses. And that’s what it is, speculation. If moviegoers begin reading negative expectations about a movie, they’ll assume it’s no good and they won’t go see it and then the speculation becomes reality. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
By the way, it also works in reverse. If a movie doesn’t perform to financial speculation, it’s branded a disappointment. Either way, none of this has to do with the quality of a movie. It removes any artistry or creativity from it and turns it into a product that people are going to either buy or not buy. Please tell me, where is the fun in that? Movies used to be about escaping our daily concerns.
I whine about all this because I hope to the very core of my being that Hollywood is surprised this weekend by the performance of Pacific Rim, one of the most thrilling and satisfying ORIGINAL summer movies I’ve ever seen. Notice I say “original”. I loved Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel, but to some extent, we’d seen versions of those movies before. Pacific Rim is something new.
Now, I will admit that it does remind me of other summer blockbusters from the past, particularly Independence Day. You know, Earth is exposed to an apocalyptic threat, but we rally and, following an inspirational (and catchphrase-creating) speech, a rebellious hotshot hero completes a dangerous mission to save the world. But there is so much new and exciting in Pacific Rim that it outweighs the familiarity of the story.
I can’t imagine moviegoers not wanting to see Pacific Rim. It is an absolute crowd-pleaser. My only thought about why someone wouldn’t want to see it is that we’re all getting tired of movies featuring massive destruction of cities and landmarks. Especially after Man of Steel, we think, “Oh my, another movie with non-stop mayhem.” We’ve surpassed the saturation point; we’ve had enough.
But I can tell you that while that’s part of Pacific Rim, it’s not the focus. First of all, most of the urban destruction takes place in generic, unfamiliar locales. No familiar building or monument is destroyed for the sake of the spectacle. In fact, most of the battles between Kaiju (Japanese monsters who have risen from an undersea portal to another dimension) and Jaegers (giant robots built to battle the Kaiju) take place off the coast, and some underwater.
Pacific Rim also gives us the single most terrifying, yet heartbreaking scene from any movie in many, many years. I don’t know who director Guillermo del Toro hired to play the little Japanese girl left alone in the streets during an original Kaiju attack, but her performance brought me to tears… in a frickin’ giant monster vs. giant robot action movie! In only a few moments, you realize what is at stake, how big a threat there is to the entire world, as well as what would happen to us if such a horrible event really occurred. It is pure, brilliant filmmaking.
She’s the best actor in Pacific Rim. Everyone else is OK. I get the sense that as talented as del Toro is, he isn’t necessarily an actor’s director. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Charlie Day aren’t bad, they’re just not entirely natural. Hunnam particularly is a stilted actor, but someone please give him an Oscar for that body of his! Day and his partner in science (Burn Gorman) are largely the comic relief, yet hold the key to our survival.
Every action scene is thrilling, from the way the Jaegers are piloted to the surprise that occurs during the penultimate battle. At least twice, I smiled, made an audible gasp and cheered inside. However, there is some complexity to the story. There’s a twist to piloting the Jaegers and an evolving explanation for the Kaiju attacks. Plus, there’s Ron Perlman; enough said.
I implore you, put aside any preconceptions you have about Pacific Rim. I will come as close as I can to guaranteeing something: you will like it. This movie gives you everything you love about movies. Blow the socks off box office analysts; better yet, let’s give them an increase in revenue between week one and week two. See it, tell someone else about it, then see it again next weekend.
Besides, it’s time to focus on something else. The new Star Wars movie is years away from hitting theaters. As far as I know, a script has not even been completed. Yet I read this week that Disney stated it’s already tracking to do over a billion dollars at the box office. This news leaves me in an unusual state… speechless.