David Appleford is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the American Theatre Critics Association
To read more film and theatre reviews, plus navigate through archival material CLICK HERE to go to the David Appleford Film & Theatre Review website.
The question I am asked the most is, "Are you Australian or English?"
For the record, it's English. I was born in Tilbury, Essex, made temporarily famous by the film 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' with Cate Blanchett. Tilbury is the town where Elizabeth 1st gave her infamous speech where she rallied the troops in preparation for the oncoming, though disastrous, attack from Spain. Look on a map of Britain, go to London, then slowly run your finger to the right along the River Thames. There's Tilbury.
The second question that I'm usually asked is, "Are you thinking of becoming an American citizen?"
Actually, I became a citizen in 2001, exactly one week after 9/11 when government offices around the country re-opened for the first time after the attack. Taking your citizenship and pledging allegiance to your adopted country is always an emotional moment, but the significance of the timing in September of 2001 made this ceremony all the more poignant.
According to the new horror/thriller
Massive, repulsive looking creatures known as ‘Kaiju’ are rising, one by one, from the depths and trampling over cities, Godzilla style, crushing everything in their path. At first, the attacks from those ridiculously oversized creatures appear random, but as Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geizler discovers, the attacks are actually a disciplined series of maneuvers. These monsters are attacking all countries around the world under orders and with a specific objective; to wipe us out and take over. And the only way to fight back? Build giant, man-operated robots known as ‘Jaegers.’
Travis Beacham is credited for having written the story, but there really isn’t a story here, not in the traditional sense; it’s merely a setup. Beacham, along with director Gillermo del Toro sets everything up then lets it rip, for two ear-shattering hours, plus.
Reading the background to the film and how it came to be, it’s obvious that del Toro takes this stuff seriously, but after two hours of feeling as though you’re head has been continuously pummeled by a mallet you have to wonder, why? Why squander so much time, talent and money on yet another film that takes themes seen before and does them all over again, only this time with more creatures, more robots, and the volume turned up to 11?
The answer, of course, is because this is where the action movie is going. After the screening, I overheard one enthusiastic attendee remark that this is what going to the cinema is all about. Really? Surely not. Films like Pacific Rim no longer resemble adventure movies as we know them; they are now thrill-seeking carnival side shows, experiences with all kinds of gimmicks, whistles and bells intended to overwhelm and exhaust, and presented in 3D, and in some cases, in IMAX. And just in case you want to continue the experience, a video game based on the film will also be released just as the film hits theatres.
Surprisingly, for a film that is intended to be so big, director del Toro has decided to shoot the film in a standard frame rather than widescreen. As is often the case where a film demands to look wide, the screen size for
The film attempts a certain amount of conflict among the human characters – the guilt of loss, the trust you have to put into others – but they’re overshadowed by the continuous feel of an expensive looking Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode where all battles are either in swirling fog, in the pouring rain, or at stormy sea. As is his style, Del Toro has designed his monsters to look as repellent as possible, but with so many of these ugly creatures continuously attacking the world he’s succeeded in making the whole project appear equally repellent, and, as is often the case with recent action/adventure films, there is so much mayhem that in the end you no longer feel involved, it’s all just a lengthy series of visual cacophony that you’ll either love – because you truly don’t have to think – or it’ll have you running to the nearest exit.
One positive note: Ron Perlman as a black marketer dealing in monster organs delivers the best and funniest line in the film – but you have to sit through the whole movie and some of the end credits to catch it.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 131 minutes Overall Rating: 4 (out of 10)
For more film and local theatre reviews CLICK HERE to go to the David Appleford Film & Theatre Review website.