Friday, July 12, 2013

Is <i>Pacific Rim</i> Guillermo del Toro's Attempt to Become Michael Bay?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

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Pacific Rim: Dividing lines on Pacific Rim seem to have been drawn, between the web hybrid-critic guys (you know, the ones who kinda report movie news, kinda offer industry opinions, kinda review movies) pretty much loving the bejesus out of it and praising the genius of Guillermo del Toro, and other factions saying, really, should Guillermo del Toro be wasting his time on a 'roided out Godzilla vs. Transformers movie? I haven't yet seen Pacific Rim in all of its IMAX 3D glory (pause for a moment of silent sadness that Warner Brothers, often one of the most IMAX-friendly studios, asked del Toro to convert the movie into 3D but didn't suggest shooting some IMAX-camera footage at the outset. That said, the movie will have an opened-up aspect ratio at true IMAX theaters like the one at 68th Street, so it will look pretty big. But not Ghost Protocol big, and that's a shame), but I've never really considered Guillermo del Toro one of the masters, so it's fine by me if he wants to make the good version of a Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich spectacular. I like most of del Toro's movies (and his director's commentary on the Mimic Blu-ray is terrific; he sounds like a great guy, and I'm sure that plays into all of the web guys who have met him really loving him), but I'm not spending much time wishing he'd do another Pan's Labyrinth because as dark and beautiful as that movie is, I do find that his borderline-maudlin sentimentality sometimes gets the better of him. If Pacific Rim turns out to be Hellboy 2 times like a thousand, hey, sounds great to me.

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Grown Ups 2: This movie has received some attention for the faux-shocking fact that as of a week or two ago it was tracking a lot better than Pacific Rim. This is supposed to be a badge of shame for Rim, but actually does a better job illustrating the myopia of many film writers. Adam Sandler may have hit some financial bumps lately with Jack and Jill and That's My Boy, but Grown Ups was one of his biggest hits ever. (Yeah, I know. You might also be surprised to learn his actual biggest hit ever is Big Daddy—not even The Waterboy!) So yeah, a lazy sequel to a big lazy hit is going to track better, and very possibly gross more, because some of the Sandler-is-over talk that greeted Jill and Boy is almost certainly wishful thinking (can you think of any other star who could've powered a movie as craven-looking as Jack and Jill to $75 million domestic? Maybe Eddie Murphy five or six years ago?).

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Crystal Fairy: This largely improvised road movie starring Michael Cera as sort of a hipster asshole and Gaby Hoffman as sort of a hippie earth mother has impeccable portrayals of its two central archetypes, always on the verge of but passive-aggressively avoiding all-out conflict. But the movie feels a little sketchy for a feature, at least for one that runs 100 minutes.

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Fruitvale Station: This movie is going to bum you out. But before it gets to the horrible, inevitable incident almost anyone watching this movie will understand to be coming, writer-director Ryan Coogler captures some lovely offhand moments of real life (or what feels like it).

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Killing Season: As long as there remain recognizable but aging movie stars who you have to look up on IMDB before confirming that no, they haven't really appeared onscreen together, Millennium Entertainment will be there to trick them into making a mid-budget C-movie that gets a cursory theatrical release. This month, it's John Travolta and Robert De Niro in The Killing Season, which did actually screen for press in Manhattan, but on the same night as Grown Ups 2 and I'm further along in my complete critical history of Sandler than my complete critical history of indirect-to-DVD C-movies starring former A-listers, so I had to miss it. I take solace in the fact that there will probably be another one of these next month, starring, oh, let's say Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford, or Ashley Judd and Bruce Willis.

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V/H/S/2: Henry's review of this horror anthology sequel makes me want to see it, but I wish the filmmakers had held off at least a year before unleashing their follow-up; the original just came out around last Halloween, and while summer seems to have become safer for horror than in years past (The Purge made bank last month and I bet The Conjuring will do similar business in a few weeks), horror anthologies are perfect Halloween fodder.

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