Tag Archives: Mean Girls

Pacific Rim Review: An Ode to Robots and Monsters

I’m the type of person who likes to hear the bad news before sweetening up my life with a bit of the good stuff. So lets get the pain out of the way:

1. Stereotypical character tropes – there’s the wise black commander dude, the feisty Asian chick, the wildcard beefcake hero…etc etc

2. Awkward pseudo-love story undertones between the wildcard beefcake and the feisty Asian (at least it was inter-racial)

3. Hammy dialogue. Like, very hammy dialogue. (Beefcake to Asian: “C’mon, c’mon! Let’s do this… TOGETHER!”)

Now that we’ve eaten our veggies, let’s gobble up some yummy sweets.

I’ll be honest, I gave Pacific Rim a lot of shit when the first trailer came out. What did I say again? “The Transformers Take Cloverfield”? I suppose I also said some other colourful stuff involving Michael Bay, JJ Abrams, and poop. I forget.

After further consideration, I respectfully forego my preconceived notions and pledge my allegiance to the kingdom of nerditude. In other words, sorry for being a dick, Guillermo, because your movie effing ROCKS.

This summer blockbuster season has been promised to be filmic candy-land: Iron Man, Man of Steel, Wolverine, Monster University etc etc. All season though, everything has either been hitting below par or merely meeting expectations. Pacific Rim has outstripped my (admittedly, low) expectations unlike any other. I said that it was arriving at the butt-end of the blockbuster season, didn’t I? Instead of being part of the superhero discard pile, little did I expect that Pacific Rim was the freaking clean-up batter for the entire round-up.

Pacific Rim tells the story of Earth’s epic battle against extra-terrestrial monster invaders called Kaiju (“strange beast” in Japanese) that rise out of cosmic portal located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These deadly leviathans can level whole cities, and that’s exactly what they proceed to do to the coastal population centres encircling the Pacific Rim. The Kaiju were sent to exterminate mankind to make way for alien colonists.

After realising the futility of conventional warfare, the world’s leadership unites to form the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. In a stroke of fantasy-level collaboration, everyone overcomes their political differences (except probably North Korea, because Kim Jong-Un is a spoiled prick) to pour their resources into humanity’s final solution – The Jaeger Programme. Meaning ‘hunter’ in German, the Jaegers are colossal military mechas powered by two human drivers through a neural link-up. With these super-weapons in our arsenal, humanity finally starts kicking some ass.

After a few years of being badass, the aliens adapt and send out their bigger guns. Jaeger losses are at an all-time high when world leaders decide to shut down the programme in favour of something a little more stupid. In an epic move of bureaucratic dick-baggery, our wise leaders decide that a “coastal wall” is the solution to our problems.

However, after a Category 3 Kaiju blows straight through the coastal wall around Sydney, Australia in a matter of hours, this prompts the remaining Jaeger rangers to form a resistance. They plan a last-ditch assault on the alien portal with a skeleton staff of lone ranger gunslinger types. A plan involving nukes. How could it go wrong?! Thus, shenanigans ensue. Oh man, do shenanigans frickin’ ensue.

First of all, this movie made me irrationally proud of being human. HUMANITY, FUCK YEAH! I felt a little bit like I was in the bleachers for a massive football game – HUMANS VS ASSHOLE ALIENS. Go Team Human!!!

Secondly, Pacific Rim is an exercise in human innovation and  passion. In the years of late, the film horizon has been littered with blockbuster tentpoles that are pale imitations of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. I was getting incredibly sick of the dark-cynical-gritties that Hollywood was churning out at an astonishing rate.

Del Toro’s Pacific Rim is a colourful and imaginative entity. Most importantly, it is a completely original one. When was the last time we saw a movie of this scale that wasn’t based on a comic book, a novel, or a fucking Hasbro toy?

The universe of Pacific Rim is so expansive and so richly fleshed-out. Not since Underworld (before the slew of piece-of-crap sequels) has a filmmaker been rewarded for daring to tackle a such a visionary canon in a little under two-hours on the big screen. Maybe it was for this reason that I felt a flutter of nostalgia for the good old days when movies were original properties and not just some adaptation of the latest YA faux-Twilight craze.

What’s even better is that Pacific Rim manages to pay homage to the genre of Japanese Kaiju without ripping off scenes and monsters from other films (yes, I’m talking to you Tarantino). Despite the mostly god-awful dialogue and the paper-thin characters, it felt like I was living a well-crafted throwback graphic novel. We have our heroes and we have our monsters, and that’s that. (Plus, I’ve been watching a lot of SyFy’s special effects makeup reality competition, Face Off, which has given me a newfound appreciation for creature design.)

Let’s admit, though, that the majority of the reason for why I’m letting the shitty character development fly is because Guillermo Del Toro assembled a cast that’s got charisma leaking out of their eyeballs.

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, aka. Beefcake Loose Cannon

Beefcake Charlie was more of a cypher than he was a character. I overlook that because I’ve liked Charlie since I saw Nicholas Nickleby on The Hallmark Channel. Perhaps that’s not the best testament to his acting talents. He was awesome as that Civil War douchebag in Cold Mountain. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, but he’s probably good in that too because he’s good at everything. Random note, ‘Beefcake Charlie’ would be a great name for home-style fast food joint.

Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori, aka. Feisty Asian Badass

Props to the writer/director for NOT turning her into exotic Asian sex kitten with heeled boots and bootie shorts. There was only so much stereotyping I could handle. Rinko is awesome, mainly because she’s my Asian brethren and I feel irrationally supportive. Yay for Asians in big blockbusters! I could’ve done without the awkward sort-of-but-not-really love story with Beefcake Charlie though. But then again, we totes need more inter-racial lovin’ on screens, folks!

Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, aka. British Nick Fury

Idris Elba is such a badass. He is the token wise black dude that Morgan Freeman has made a career out of.  He walks around, dropping corny bits of sage wisdom. However, the lame dialogue somehow turns to honeyed gold when it falls out of his mouth. That man could turn a Damon Lindelof script into Shakespeare with his voice alone. If this acting thing doesn’t work out, I suggest going into vocal acting for e-books. In all seriousness, he imbued the character with a depth and gravitas that obviously didn’t exist in the script. I would totally follow this man into war.

Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen, aka. Cocky Douchebag Golden-Boy

I’m gonna be upfront – I’m really biased because I’m falling in love with Rob Kazinsky on True Blood. He’s so bloody earnest. So, it was actually incredibly jarring when he plays an asshole in Pacific Rim. Chuck Hansen is the cocky ranger with the best Kaiju kill-record. He pilots the Australian Jaeger, Strike Eureka, with his papa, Hercules Hansen (yeah, no joke, his name is Hercules. I can’t laugh because I have a cousin named Achilles). He’s the Val Kilmer character in Top Gun, that starts off disliking Charlie Hunnam’s Tom Cruise, but then starts acknowledging him as an equal once he proves himself. Credit where its due – him and Max Martini (who plays his dad, Hercules) have the sole scene in the film that might be remotely capable of spurring a real emotion in the audience. Its at the end, and its kinda sad / touching. On a brighter note, Australian outback represent!!

(I know this pic is so corny, but I couldn’t help myself.)

Diego Klattenhoff as Yancy Becket, aka. Brother Beefcake

*SPOILER* (Heed the spoiler warning lest you wish to be eaten by a Kaiju)

OMG Guillermo! How could you kill of Shane Oman / Mike from Homeland within the first 5 mins of the movie?! He is the bomb! But yeah, that’s right, Raleigh Becket’s brother is SHANE OMAN FROM MEAN GIRLS. HAHAHAHA. Random note: I’ve always found Diego Klattenhoff’s name so weird. Diego is Spanish, Klattenhoff sounds German, and he looks Irish. Its SO confusing to me.

Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as Doctors Geiszler and Gottleib, aka. Comic Relief

Their the odd-couple crack research team. We have the fly-by-the-pants scientist rockstar, Charlie Day, providing a foil to Burn Gorman’s, straight-laced British professor. They bicker. They do funny stuff. They become friends despite their differences. The Internet writes gay fiction about them. Yup. That’s how humanity rolls.

This is the cast that pop culture geeks are vibin’ with. They’re all from popular TV shows, they’re all kinda under the radar, and they’re all totally awesome. (Plus, Ron Perlman makes a sweet cameo to remind the world why he’s the best.)

Everything from the cast, to the concept, to the frickin’ monsters – everything feels like Guillermo has made a film just for us movie nerds in the world. It could’ve been a hot, hot mess (and some parts were). However, Pacific Rim isa testament to the fact that there are still some filmmakers out there who geek out to the same shit we do and are willing to invest millions into creating a high-quality movie for the fans.

How do I know that I loved this movie? Well, when I got home, I spent 2 hours perusing the Pacific Rim wiki, researching everything from the name of the sick-ass Kaiju with the wings (its “Otachi”, btw) to Stacker Pentecost’s drive-suit size (sadly, that info is not available).

If you’re not a pretentious douchebag whose favourite auteur is Godard, GO WATCH IT. This embodies the sense of batshit-awesome that summer blockbuster season was always meant to be.

Random Anecdote: When I left the cinema, I couldn’t stop yammering to The Boyfriend about how The Sister and I would totes make a great Jaeger team. (The closer your bond, the better your Jaeger will fight.) The Boyfriend, being the incredibly sarcastic and dispiriting person that he is, had this to say: “Oh yeah, I’m sure you guys could drive a Jaeger. What would it be called? “Spicy Noodle”? — UM, YES?! We are Asian. We are feisty/spicy. We love noodles.

Jaeger Spicy Noodle

The Internet’s going nuts over its newest toy – the Jaeger Designer. Check out this Buzzfeed list of incredibly convincing Jaeger options. Guillermo, take note for the sequel.

BONUS – Do you doubt just how much care and detail was put into this film? Listen to Guillermo Del Toro wax nostalgic about his “beautiful poem to giant monsters”. Btw, note how how talks about how he stays away from referencing previous films? TAKE A NOTE, TARANTINO. You can still make exciting films without plagiarism.

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Mad Men Recap (S06 E08): Kenny tapdances

Tap for us, Kenny.

This week’s episode is really surreal. “The Crash” sees our Mad cast colliding headfirst into illicit pharmaceuticals and poorly made decisions.

It starts off with Ken Cosgrove in the middle of a Yuppie PSA against drunk driving. When we get back to the headquarters of SCDPCGC, we see everyone on the verge of passing out from the strain of dealing with Chevy. Aside from Kenny performing like a sideshow monkey for the Chevy douches, we’ve got Cutler shooting everyone up on ‘vitamin stimulants’ and Stan slutting it up with dead-Gleeson’s daughter.

Don said it best – “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” (And yes, I get it – the flashbacks to his adolescence at the pleasure house parallels this week’s environment at SCDPCGC)

El Douchebag – The one thing I really can’t stand is his flippant attitude towards his work. His colleagues tolerate his slothfulness and lack of commitment because of occasional strokes of brilliance. What utter bullshit. This is a man who is happy to reap the rewards handed to him off the compromises of others. However, the minute he is asked to dance to tune other than his own, he breaks team. I know his lone wolf shtick is what gets all your panties damp, but El Douchebag has never taken one for the team. This is definitely not a man I can get behind. (Just FYI, I was that person in group projects that ran the assignment with an iron fist – its all about perspective).

– 20 pts (for typing up some crap for Sylvia when everyone else was stressing about Chevy) – 40 pts (for being an absentee father) – 10 pts (for his puffy red drugface) – 20 pts (for bailing on Ted Chaough because Chevy wasn’t all it cracked up to be) = – 90 pts

Wahh! Stop hating on me!

Miss Peggy – OOooOOOooOoOohhhHHhhhhh! Miss Peggy and Stan gettin’ it on! Okay, they didn’t really get anything on. We’ve all felt the sparks since that episode where they’re both buck-nekkid in a hotel room working on some account. I feel the chemistry, although I applaud Miss Peggy for guiding their relationship back into the comfortable sibling territory that defines their rapport. Miss Peggy isn’t after Stan. She’s not even after Chaough. She’s just after something more than Abe. The sooner she admits that, the better.

20 pts (for having a great ass)

Stan – Oh Stan. You’re my favourite deadbeat beatnik.

10 pts (for playing William Tell and getting stabbed by a pencil) + 10 pts (for your rakish jock charm despite the grossness of sleeping with hippie Wendy Gleason) = 20 pts

Ted Chaough – It’s really touching to see how genuine he was in his comments about his deceased partner, Frank Gleason. I remember early in the fifth season (or was it the fourth?), they made him seem like the wannabe Don. He tried a little too hard to be considered suave. I believe that Ted Chaough is just as good as Don work-wise, and infinitely better than Don as a human being. If Don is your star striker who delivers big during important games, Ted Chaough is your reliable midfielder who consistently gets the job done well. Except the sheen of Don’s genius is a little duller in the bright of day as he proves to be nothing more than a shallow promise of occasional brilliance. Don is Fernando Torres to Chaough’s Steven Gerrard. (Yes, I support Liverpool FC.)

10 pts (condolence points, for Frank Gleason) + 20 pts (for giving me hope that not all Madison Avenue types are jerkwads) = 30 pts

Silver Fox – Two silver foxes matching their wits at checkers! Adorable. Is CGC just SCDP but less cool? Because, I swear, Jim Cutler is just the oily version of our loveable cad, Roger Sterling. They even have matching glasses! (But lets all agree that Roger is indisputably more debonair.)

10 pts (nice waistcoat) + 10 pts (nice spectacles) = 20 pts

Bonus 5 pts to Jim Cutler for sprinting up those stairs / racing Stan across the office. 

Pretty spry, for a white guy.

Skinny Bitch Betty – SHE’S BACK!! Oh how I’ve missed you, Skinny Bitch!! My days have been dark and sombre without your vapid Betty-isms! So the kids were “held hostage by an elderly negro woman who robbed [Don and Megan] blind”.  Of course, Betty’s natural reflex is to proclaim, “DO YOU KNOW THAT HENRY IS RUNNING FOR OFFICE?!”

I'm back, bitches.

I’m back, bitches.

10 pts (for her irreplaceable Betty-isms) + 30 pts (for marrying a stud of a husband) = 40 pts

Ken Cosgrove – He is a man who embodies the term ‘taking one for the team’.

50 pts (for the ‘It’s my job’ speech) + 10 pts (pity points, for your injuries) = 60 pts

WINNER: KEN COSGROVE

BONUS – Did you know Mad Men meangirl-ing is a thing? I didn’t?! I was delighted to discover this so I’ve compiled a compendium of my favourite Mad Men at their meangirly best. FYI – I can recite Mean Girls from start to finish. I am unashamed. (It’s Tina Fey-approved, after all.)

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