Saturday, 13 July 2013

PACIFIC RIM makes Man of Steel look like an Ingmar Bergman movie

Trying to put the effect of PACIFIC RIM (I can't write it in lower case) down in words the next day.. This is not going to be a 'serious' review, I may come back to that, I'm going with my gut.

The buzz is something like you felt when you saw Thunderbirds for the first time as a kid. Tellingly there were plenty of adults scoffing in the audience at the bad human melodrama but the kids in the auditorium where absolutely loving it .. in particular one sight gag involving a Jaeger punching through a skyscraper to set off an executive toy kicked of squeals
of delight from a completely enraptured row of kids behind me.

To put my age in context I remember watching Star Wars in 1977 in a movie theatre in rural Ontario and I distinctly remember the adults with us were scoffing at that as well.

Iron Man 3 - Meh
Man of Steel - good movie but ultimately - Meh

Pacific Rim, despite being probably a worse movie, certainly less adult, than either of those above for some of its length, makes them both look very small beer now. I hope the upcoming The Wolverine is good as even as a comics fan my super hero movie threshold is under serious threat after having my actual imagination engaged for a change.

And ho - how - Transformers. The whole concept of secret giant robots in a world that is essentially unchanged is particularly laughable now. That as of now is a dead concept. Transformers 4 is akin to making Damnation Alley in the era of Star Wars now,  just give it up.

Re: the acting, Idris Elba has a good scene, the Japanese female lead is good , the actors playing Australians are going for larger than life and end up ultimately being stupid, but remain recognisably Australians. They get a lot of the best gung-ho action and it's nice to see American characters on the back foot in this area for a change. I liked their cute dog, another obvious shout out to a family audience and one of the great bits if incidental detail you get in del Toro's movies that would be an idiot sub-plot in a more conventional movie.

Biggest disappointment was not seeing more of the intriguing Russians and Chinese who I thought went down far too quickly after such a big build up. The international nature is particularly great ..
<cut - must find time to do Kaiju in detail>

So there is no-one going to see this movie? (I remember I couldn't motivate anyone to see the first Iron Man film either). If you liked any of Del Toro's output before this, even just Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone, or you just have bored kids, you need to be in a air conditioned cinema this afternoon watching it. It's daft as a brush and totally brilliant.

And one last thing
Only when the closing credits rolled did I notice how fantastic the score is.

Txts sent afterwards last night from Goth club on Lychee Coolers...

Found where I belonged tonight - in a nice cool cinema watching a completely uncool movie. Comparing PACIFIC RIM to Transformers is like comparing The Matrix to Universal Soldier

PACIFIC RIM man.. Can't remember last time I whooped watching a movie. Character stuff is cheesy but lots of "I can't believe I just saw that" moments. Waarrrg.

PACIFIC RIM makes Zack Snyders MAN OF STEEL look like an Ingmar Bergman film

Not unlike HELLBOY except that all the action scenes are 500x bigger

Pic above created using the fab Design your own Jeager app - presumably a British Jaeger would be dealing with Gorgo - the British Kaiju

Monday, 8 July 2013

We've all been there (A Field In England)

"Wheatley's new film is grisly and visceral, an occult, monochrome-psychedelic breakdown taking place somewhere in the West Country during the civil war. A group of deserters, starving and staggering across country in the entirely delusional hope of an "alehouse" over the next hill...."     

It occurs to me suddenly that all the unfortunate events which befall the characters mentioned in my last blog post (A Field In England review) happen because they fail to follow the strategy outlined in the previous post

An important lesson for those traveling on foot in England.

A Field In England alternative ending

 A Field In England alternative ending 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Field In England aka Edgar Allan Poe's Imp of The Perverse (review)

When Witchfinder General was released in the US in 1968 it was re titled to tie it in with AIPs series of films based on Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.

Since A Field in England, Ben Wheatly's new follow up to The Kill List, is so obviously channeling Witchfinder General can we do the same with that? What Poe title would we pick? 

The Gold Bug? 
The Purloined Letter?
The Forest Reverie?
The Divine Right of Kings?

Weirdly, and this points to my trouble finding a suitable Poe title for it, it is a little too oblique to be pigeonholed with other British "Folk Horror". Most of it reminded me more of the film adaptation of Sir Henry At Rawlinson's End. I laughed out loud often at this movie, far more than I thought. Perhaps the presence of Julian Barrett and Reece Shearsmith started me off, but it is Amy Jump's witty period banter that is the highlight for me. 

This is instantly my favourite English Civil War movie, placing you literally in the heads of those suffering through the last (to date) period of British religious and political fundamentalism. These feel like real conversations between grumbling servicemen at the time, as much as a Patrick O'Brian novel or Willis Hall's The Long And the Short And The Tall, at least until the effects of searching for treasure in a field of magic mushrooms brings what is left of their rational world crashing down around them.

Micheal Smiley also fantastic as a Cromwell era Irish Vincent Price but Shearsmith is magnificent and, to cheekily re-title some of Alan Moore's recent work, A Field In England is only Mark Gatiss and a few others away from being League of Gentlemen : Century 1600.  Except that this movie, despite appearances, is quite a bit lighter than the grim League of Gentlement tv comedy. 

I really enjoyed A Field In England and thought it a big step forward over Ben Wheatley's previous Kill List (which ultimately infuriated after a great start). It is a great ensemble piece presenting likable characters that lifts it above the most recent stab of period folk horror, the otherwise unfairly maligned Black Death. The camaraderie (and gore) also reminded me of another recent favourite of mine,  the medieval mutton western Ironclad.

And just because I've not mentioned it for months the other British movie it invites comparison with is Dredd, as both have dazzling psychedelia that should be experienced on as big a screen as possible.

The eerie retro companionship that A Field In England has with Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio I will have to return to after a re-watching both on disc..