Thursday, July 18, 2013

Law and Robots

Cool, but WAY underutilized in the movie.
 So I went to see Pacific Rim. And one thing struck me about this movie, when the protagonists of the movie pull off their inevitable victory, everyone cheered. Everyone on screen that is. Everyone in the theater, even the children, was quiet. The movie had failed at the one thing that it really needed to do to be a really good movie - convincing the audience that the foregone conclusion at the end of the movie might not actually come to pass. And then what we were left with was a giant robot procedural. Now, there's nothing wrong with procedurals: Law and Order lasted forever, and Doctor Who has revived and is going strong. In these shows, you know that Messrs. Stone or McCoy and company will put the perps behind bars or that the Doctor, with or without companions, is going to outwit the alien threat. That's a foregone conclusion. So you're not watching to find out if they're going to succeed, you're watching because the how they're going to succeed is interesting.

And that was missing in Pacific Rim, where it was Main Characters to the Rescue. Because, well, they had right on their side, and were just that badass. Not because they did anything particularly interesting or unexpected. Action movie aficionados often complain that people look for too much development with their action, but in this case, that was something of a valid critique, because that overall lack of development is what prevented the movie from really working in either of the two modes that I mentioned above. In a way, Pacific Rim was racing against the clock, and unlike in the actual movie, the clock won. It likely needed to be 50 to 100% longer to have really worked in the ways that it needed to, but with such a large budget, there was simply no way that a television mini-series could have made back that investment.

But I'm glad I went to see the movie, if for no other reason that I'd never actually thought about the art of movies (and television) in that way before, and I feel that I learned something. That, and I'm a giant robot junkie. So if someone else, or even Mr. de Toro, gives this genre another shot, I'll plant my butt in a seat and see how well they learned this film's lessons.

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