Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising exposes the No.1 problem with Star Wars Last Jedi (NO SPOILERS)

Pacific Rim 2 exposes the No.1 problem with Star Wars 8 - JOHN BOYEGA

I have to review this as I went temporarily mad for the first movie. For large parts I thought it better than the first one.

It's faster. Steven S. DeKnight (of Netflix Daredevil) seems to have sacrificed realism for excitement in the action scenes, which lack the grandier but do move along at pace. it is great to see old time city destroying mahem withouth two hours of angst about the casualties

True, the cast is more boring and kiddified. At times it looks like a SPY KIDS sequel.. but personally I like SPY KIDS.

Hard not to be a Boyega fan, he oozes charisma and brio,  and he's still the kid from Attack The Block who reminds you of Steve McQueen debuting in The Blob. Instant star power. This is the kind of actor who doesn't even need to act to save a movie, though he does to great effect in Detroit.

So John Boyega (and I'll get to Finn and Star Wars below) is excellent but I have to say Scott Eastwood, beginning to look a lot like his father, outshines him for presence in Pacific Rim Uprising. Both actors seems to be slumming a bit in this environment but they work together well and I hope they are cast together again in future.

While I'm bigging up John Boyega it's worth noting he (and newly Oscar winning director and series creator Guillermo del Toro) gets a producer credit on this movie. Pacific Rim Uprising not going to win any Oscars for production but I have to say it hangs together better than most of the DC and Star Wars movies I've seen in the last decade. It is mostly internally consistent with a satisfying plot that doesn't seem stitched up seemingly at random in post-production according to whims of a committee.

As with the first movie, the senior supporting  characters are a major highlight, Burn Gorman and Charlie Day in particular. One scene at home with Charlie Day is my favourite from either movie, very funny and simultaneously creepy and almost Cronenberg level disturbing. I wonder how younger audiences will react to that.

The fabulous world building continues, with devastated beach front properties being a nice backdrop for some of the action. Ten years after the end of the Kaiju War and the Battle of The Breach we don't see any nations being mentioned, only cities. The national stereotypes seem to have gone and the Jaeger corps seems to be a world wide effort.

Like Godzilla (2014) Pacific Rim 2 has caught some flak for lack of characterisation.
This is a giant monster movie. No-one waxes lyrical about the dramatic arc between Emi and Yumi Itō in Mothra (1961). Did these reviewers criticize Darkest Hour for it's lack of MechaGodzilla? Come to think of it Kaiju could only have improved Darkest Hour. I'm thinking Gorgo obviously, MechaGodzilla would be silly.

There is some moaning that the movie is pandering to China, to which you have to respond;
  • China is on the Pacific Rim
  • China has it's nose in everything the South China Sea, so I can completely believe they are all over the 2030 Pan Pacific Jaeger program
  • The Chinese characters (and the Russians) in the first movie were criminally underdeveloped and I'd watch a prequel just about them
  • Pacific Rim 2 wouldn't be appearing at all if not for Chinese Box office saving the first movie
Ramin Djawadi is a major loss on the soundtrack. I didn't appreciate cinematographer Guillermo Navarro's work on the first film until I saw the dull flat look of Uprising. Though we do get some Marko Mori, Herc Hansen and Hannibal Chau are nowhere to be seen.

I'm dissapointed by lack of Mako Mori though I understand the actress was having a child during filming of this which might explain her lack of involvement. I wish her and her family the best and really hope she returns in some capacity in future Pacific Rim sequels.

Apparently, after the fuss about Pacific Rim not passing the Bechdel Test, Mako Mori inspired a whole new measurement covering the representation of women of women n movies.

This proves to me two things - that the detail of representation of <whoever> issues are transitory and worth about as much attention as what way is the wind blowing (so long as the underlying issues are addressed). And that great hidden plot thread in Pacific Rim, of a platonic work place romance, is one that has been noticed and will endure.

I saw the first movie again a few days ago and it is both worse than I remember (it drags, it's corny) but also somehow better (wow the detail, the visuals). For all the talk of Wes Anderson being a niche filmmaker it is actually something like Pacific Rim that is more a true 'Cult Movie' - in that it has a fanatically loyal, but minority following.

Pacific Rim Uprising isn't a great movie, two of the four people I saw it with nodded off and everyone had some major issue with it, but again isn't that divisiveness the definition of a Cult movie? This franchise has now delivered two in a row, you think it would get more credit.

You feel this movie franchise will just get kicked around by the haters forever. The same reviewers kicking the first one now kicking the sequel for not being enough like the first one, and the same websites which kicked Pacific Rim for violating the female representation standards of 2013 are now kicking the sequel for not doing more of the same.

Yeah I'm someone else who has a big problem with Last Jedi. Though I've not heard it much expressed elsewhere.

When Rian Johnson apparently threw out the original the outline for Star Wars The Last Jedi
we are told it was because he was being daring with his story telling. Is that lazy-arsed plot really story telling?  The end of Snoke was shocking and would have been dramatic and interesting if we'd had any idea who this character is beforehand. Are we not supposed to care who Snoke is? I sure don't now.  Daring would have been something like telling it all from Captain Phasma's perspective. Of course Gwendoline Christie was binned, presumably because that plot thread would have given more screen time to the new comic relief, Finn.

Yeah, Finn. Finn is the problem.

If Poe Dameron was a character originally intended to be killed off in Force Awakens how is he now the male lead romantic attached to Rey? Why is Finn, who was once promoted as the male lead, relegated to pointless subplots with a minor female character ?

I like Rose, she fleshes out the world. And Oscar Isaac is much much better in Alex Garland movies (not seen Annihilation? It's better than any of the movies on this page. Why are you reading this? Get to Netflix now) But Finn's treatment in Star Wars Last Jedi looks alarmingly like token black sidekick storytelling.

It must be particularity galling to be the best young black movie star in the business, to find yourself relegated to Star War's comic relief  in the same year Black Panther is released. Star Wars, and I'm blaming Johnson, Abrams and Kennedy for this, have turned the actor who lit up Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit , into something like Richard Pryor in Superman III.

and the absolutely infuriating thing is most people who dare dislike Star Wars Last Jedi are written off as unreconstructed alt-right activists...

Boyega as originally introduced to the press as the new male lead for Star Wars - how 'Finn' is this?

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