Skip to main content

These are the Ends

Certain types of movies are really hard to review or even offer opinions about. Gross-out comedies, for example, are meant to shock you into laughing. If you find them funny then you didn't waste your $11, if you don't laugh at that kind of thing, don't see them. Action spectacles, for another example, are an excuse for cheering and saying, 'hell, yeah!' These are not complicated ambitions for movies to have, not too difficult to appreciate, and I mostly watch them and forget them. However, because I just watched two excellent examples of these kinds of movies, I'm going to lump them together in a single review.

"This is the End" and "Pacific Rim" have some weird similarities and some glaring differences. This is the End is a comedy about the end of the world where famous comedians play versions of themselves behaving very, very badly in front of impressive CGI. Pacific Rim is a sci fi spectacle about the end of the world where not so famous actors play versions of action heroes behaving very, very heroically in front of impressive CGI.

This is the End is completely unpredictable and really funny. One of the first things that happens in the movie is someone recognizing Seth Rogan in LAX and demanding he give his 'Seth Rogan laugh.' I felt this was the movie's way of telling us that all bets were off. Seth Rogan, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel and many, many other young comedians appear in the film and play some slightly off version of themselves. Michael Cera, hilariously, appears as a nerdy, coked-up douchebag, the kind of person you'd most like to see die horribly in the end of the world. When the end of the world actually happens (decent folks being whisked away first in blowtorch blue light beams) all that's left behind are these rich, unhappy, unpleasant, jerks. Basically the last people you'd want to have trapped together without much food or water in James Franco's trendy LA mansion. Hell may be other people, but that also makes for good comedy. I kind of expected that the movie would either degenerate into gross-out parodies of other apocalypse movies or sag into genre tropes like Pineapple Express but curiously the movie finds a third way. The situation is played deadly serious, with a bunch of way-too self-aware comedians attempting to survive a sulphur drenched hellscape. And that's what's so funny about it. The fictional versions of themselves are awful people who never get the joke of the situation.

Pacific Rim, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of movie you'd expect from the trailer. Maybe a little bit less robot-punch-monster than you might suppose but still firmly a movie about enormous mechanical walking death hammers going toe to claw with neon-splattered Chthulu beasts. 

We are told in the first few minutes of the film that Earth is being overrun by transdimensional kaiju, or giant monsters, that are crawling into our world via a rift somewhere in the Pacific. Over several years the world realizes that each creature will be more powerful, more adapted, and appear more rapidly than the one before it. To combat this scaly apocalypse, the nations of the Earth pool their resources and talents to advance the Jaeger program, basically recreating Japanese Mecha in order to pummel the kaiju into submission. This is all immediately familiar if you've ever seen any Japanese anime or Godzilla movie, and from the names of the characters (Hannibal Chao, Stacker Pentecost, etc.) all the way to the rock-em-sock-em fight scenes Pacific Rim delivers pretty much what it promises. The plot fitfully lurches between exposition and subplots, but hits all of its marks. Lines like, "Don't you feel it? We're drift compatible," tread choppy water between mock serious and unintentionally funny.

About the only complaint I have about this movie is one I really don't like to make, which is the physics of the movie are really bad. Wait, a movie about twenty story monsters plays fast and loose with science? I know, shocking, right?! But seriously the movie goes through a lot of trouble to set the scale of the Jaegers, to make them believable machines and then it does dumb stuff like having them survive a drop from near orbit from a flying pterodactyl.

Then there's the nuclear bomb episode. It pulled me out of the story, is all I'm saying.

But when all is said and done I recommend you watch both of these films. They are both extremely entertaining and spectacular. Pacific Rim is the kind of movie that knows what you want and gives you precisely those things. This is the End is a movie that gives you things you never knew you wanted.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 

SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

"A Breath from the Sky" Story Announcement!

I am thrilled to share the news my story, "Promontory," will appear in an upcoming anthology of unusual possession stories published by the incredible Martian Migraine Press. The anthology, "A Breath from the Sky,"puts together a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and twenty other atypical stories of possession. Judging from the cover and the list of impressive authors, I'm anticipating pure awesomeness. "Promontory" is a possession story and one of my more overtly horror tales, so I'm overjoyed that it found a host, er, home here. I am sharing the Table of Contents below, as well as a link to the announcement on the Martian Migraine website to provide a sense of what this collection will be about. The cover is amazing, the other authors selected for the collection are amazing, and I have to say, having a story appear alongside a classic tale like HP's "Colour Out of Space," feels pretty darn amazing. I hope to provide more information abou…

In Defense of Brevity

As a writer of short speculative fiction, I am also a reader. I was a reader first and my love of the genre leads me to want to write short fiction. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is read contemporary's work. If nothing else, you're likely to be entertained - there's a great amount of stupendous short fiction available out there for exactly nothing. But it also tends to helps to develop craft. 
Long-time readers of this blog know I write up recommendations of a few short stories each month I really enjoyed. "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper by Carl Wiens" was my favorite story of the year. The first line of this story pretty much sums it up: "The time traveler set up a studio apartment in Abraham Lincoln’s skull in the frozen moment before Booth’s bullet burst through and rewired history," but I also enjoyed "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia and "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," by Brooke Bol…