Saturday, July 27, 2013

This is not another lousy TRANSFORMERS!!

Though most of the summer blockbusters have busted from overload and hype, there is one I can wholeheartedly endorse: Guillermo del Toro's epic monster vs. monster robot PACIFIC RIM. Why? If you have seen del Toro's visionary masterpiece PAN'S LABYRINTH, then you know why. If you have not, SEE IT! It' s a magnificent combination of fairy tale, the Spanish Civil War, and a little girl who treads the thin line between the two. Del Toro's creative make-up for the various creatures in the labyrinth are both horrific and sublime, and this is brought to a gigantic scale in PACIFIC RIM.

It seems the threat from outer space has turned to monsters from the deep, as in "prehistoric" creatures featured in Japanese movies eons ago. So we get to see Mothra, Godzilla, and dozens of others of their ilk, but the fun surprise is seeing so many variations of the great designs for the ALIEN series. Del Toro uses these creatures freshly and drops in amazing details, some for laughs, some for clues. The movie itself is spectacularly beautiful, every shot flooded with lush colors of hope (mostly blues) and reds and oranges (guess what).

Believe it or not, there are human beings in PACIFIC RIM, played by talented actors. Idris Elba (THE WIRE) is a powerful presence as the head of the robot program with dark secrets. Rinko Kikuchi (who won an Oscar nomination for BABEL) plays a pilot whose family was killed during an earlier attack. She is mesmerizing as her mind melds with her co-pilot's (Charlie Hunnam) during battle.
PACIFIC RIM should appeal to more than teen age boys and sci-fi fanatics. It's got beauty, horror, and great visual impact. In comparison to the other blockbusters in the last few years, PACIFIC RIM is a Delacroix gone wild, while the rest are colorless sketches.

A footnote: If you are not watching CBS's knockout series of Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME, then get with it. Don't start in the middle. Go back and stream the earlier episodes from the beginning. Each one is a gem, and each ends in suspense and directions you never expect. The characters trapped under this suspicious huge dome are good, bad, and both, and they are all played by talented, forceful actors, young and old. It's not often when a network presents an intelligent and mysterious thriller and makes it work.

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