Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pacific Rim * * * *

To battle giant alien monsters from another dimension, the human race builds skyscraper tall robots that are human piloted.

There is a certain silliness to the premise of Pacific Rim that giant robots would be needed to fight giant creatures from another world.  A single missile would probably kill any one of these monsters, and if that didn’t do the trick, the second or third missile would finish the creature off.   A single Apache helicopter or fighter aircraft would have more than enough firepower to destroy one of these creatures.

Pacific Rim also has a certain amount of corniness that reminds me of “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  Even the “bad soldier” becomes a hero in the end.   The movie is also reminiscent of “Real Steal” and possibly other movies like “Top Gun.”

However, the movie is so well executed and so effectively draws into its world, that I quickly forgot any logical objections that I had to the film.  The movie is dominated by special effects and battle scenes, but these are done so well and are so engaging that it kept my on the edge of my seat.   The characters are slightly corny, but the movie somehow gets us to completely empathize with them.  Throughout the film there is a sense of wonderment that all good science fiction stories have.

Even a slightly silly movie like this one can be done so well that it feels like a perfect movie.   I am sure that I will watch it a couple of more times.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


As a child, I saw a small part of this movie on television. This is the movie that 12 year old Shirley Temple did after failing to get the part of Dorothy. This movie competed with The Wizard of Oz and has similar ideas. Even though it is not nearly as good as The Wizard of Oz, looks cheaply made, and was a commercial failure, I think that it is delightful in its own charming way.

After this film, Shirley Temple began to lose some of her appeal as a child actress and gradually made the transition to teenage and young adult roles. Within a decade she decided to give up acting altogether.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pan's Labyrinth * * *

In a fairy tale, Princess Moanna, whose father is the king of the underworld, becomes curious about the world above, the human world. When she goes to the surface, the sunlight blinds her and erases her memory and she eventually dies.

In post–Civil War Spain in 1944 (after Francisco Franco has come into power) Ofelia, a young girl who loves fairy tales, travels with her pregnant mother Carmen to meet the harsh Captain Vidal, her new stepfather.

Ofelia discovers a large insect resembling a stick insect which she believes to be a fairy. That night, the insect appears in Ofelia's bedroom, where it changes into a fairy and leads her through the labyrinth. There, she meets the faun, who believes her to be the reincarnation of Princess Moanna and gives her three tasks to complete before the full moon to prove that she is the princess.

As far as fantasy or fairy tale movies go, this film is insanely dark and somewhat depressing.  Don't expect a Disney picture.

This is the kind of movie that made me wonder who the intended audience is?  The movie is rated R for graphic violence and some language, although the film is in Spanish and subtitled in English.  So this is obviously not a kids film, as no kid would have the patience to sit through a subtitled film, and the Spanish Civil war scenes wouldn't much sense to children.   However, the mixing of dark fairy tale and violent war makes for a very odd if not incompatible mix that I think that few adults would appreciate.  In America, I think that the intended audience would be those who appreciate foreign or "art" films.

Despite this, the movie is compelling.  It has interesting characters, not the least of which is the evil Captain Vidal.  The movie makes us wonder what is going to happen to these characters.  It has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which shows that it is highly acclaimed by critics, but the tragic ending left me a little confused about what the message of the movie is.  The ending gave me the impression that because the world was so harsh, the fairy tale aspects of the story had only been imagined by the girl Ofelia as a kind of escape from reality.  I am not sure if this is the correct interpretation.

I think that this movie would have more meaning for those living in Spain, as it deals with their history.

Some movies are just so strange that you are glad that watched them.  It is not your typical movie watching experience.