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Poster - Pacific RimI’ve always been confused by the popularity of Guillermo del Toro. Fanboys and girls have been nuts over his properties for years; yet, whenever I watch any of his films, I feel like I’ve been letdown. Why is that? Is it because of the hype, most of which he can’t control? Maybe. Is it because of his enthuasim for projects that, quite frankly, I have interest in? Possibly. Or is it because of the visual edge he always seems to bring to his project? Again, that’s a real possibility. However, save for Pan’s Labyrinth, I’ve always walked away from a del Toro film with a feeling of wanting more from this supposed creative genius.

So, when I found out about Pacific Rim and its concept — I was intrigued. Giant Robots vs Giant Monsters — what testosterone fueled man wouldn’t love that? Add to it a stellar cast (Charlie Day, Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Pearlman, etc) and a script from Travis Beacham (who wrote the great “Killing at Carnival Row” script that has yet to be made) and my expectations were heightened. This could be one of the most epic films ever made and I couldn’t wait for the experience. Needless to say, I wish I could have waited because what I saw was a letdown — a major letdown.

A weak story killed this movie. Aside from the epic fight scenes, there was no real story and no real characters. People went through the motions and at no point did I feel anything for any of the major characters except for the Asian lady. And, the only reason I felt anything for her was because the child actress playing her in a “drift” sequence (A flashback sequence, essentially) was so good as a terrified little girl that it was the only part that made me feel for any character, at their core. Raliegh’s (the lead guy) brother’s death at the beginning did not make me feel anything when it should have. There was also a distinct lack of females in this film and was surprised by it. Normally, it’s not a critique that I’d make but there was only one lead female in this ensemble. Although, I liked his performance, Clifton Collins Jr’s character could have easily been made into a female to add an extra shot of much needed estrogen into this picture. Hell, you didn’t have to change any lines for him, and could’ve gotten away with making his character a lesbian. Charlie Day stole the film and was the standout as a Kajiu loving scientist named Newt and he cemented his status as a bonafide movie star with his performance here.

Pacific Rim

The big selling point, the fights, were surprisingly hidden. What do I mean by this? Well, every major fighting sequence occurred at NIGHT. What? At night? What does that mean? Essentially – you never saw anything during the fights because the Kajiu and Jaegers were masked by the night. Now, I’m assuming this choice was made to cut down on the CGI costs but come on — when you know your final battle is going to be (SPOILER ALERT) AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN (/SPOILER) then you can set your second act fight during the day. Sure, there were glimpses of daytime fights, seen in a flashbacks, but those were only that — glimpses. Nothing longer then a few seconds here and there. The big battles — were all at night. A choice I HATED and did not understand from a purely story perspective.

There was also some very weird character choices made throughout this film along with some very obvious allegories being thrown in for good measure (like the fact that the governments decide to build giant walls to “keep the Kajiu’s out” ala the wall being proposed by the US to stop Mexican’s from hoping the border). I blame this on the writing and well, del Toro’s influence over the project. I have a feel he was behind all of these decision’s and Beacham was just following orders because he’s a good writer (as seen in glimpses in Pacific Rim).

At the end of the day, a weak story, hidden fights (again, why were all the major fights at night?!?), some weird character choices, and the lack of emotional connection to the story and characters caused Pacific Rim, sadly, to be a letdown. I wanted more because I thought there’d be more to love about this.

My recommendation? Wait for this to hit the dollar theaters then watch it. If not, wait for it to show up on Netflix.

**½

Release Date: June 21, 2013
Studio: Pixar/Disney
Director: Dan Scanlon (Tracy, Mater and the Ghostlight)
Voice Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, and Aubrey Plaza.
Plot: Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn’t stand each other. “Monsters University” unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

Thoughts: Honestly, I’m not sure when I’ll be seeing Monsters University. I want to see it, but I’m afraid it will be a let down on the level of Cars 2. And I like Monsters Inc much more than I do Cars. In fact, Monsters Inc is a top five “all time” movie in my eyes. The movie has a perfect blend of comedy and action- with some of the most likeable characters in animated movie history.

Monsters University is a prequel. I’m not a fan of prequels for a number of reasons, the first being that all of the character development we saw in the original film is out the window. These are versions of the characters from (way) before we met them, which pretty much means they are different characters. The story focuses on them in college, which means that it is a very different type of story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that they are expanding Monstropolis, but I think I would have preferred a spinoff/sequel with new characters (and returning characters in supporting roles) in the “new” city powered by children’s laughs, rather than a prequel.

How about you? Are you excited for Monsters University? Would you have preferred a sequel?

new films coming out on 9.3.10

This weekend we have a surprisingly good weekend of new movie releases regardless of the end of the crazy summer season of blockbusters. The four new big movies couldn’t be more different, and while I still have films from the last few weeks that I want to see (Scott Pilgrim, The Expendables), I also sorta want to see some of these. We’ll start with the film that is most likely to get an Oscar nomination…

The American
Directed by Anton Corbijn, this action thriller that stars George Clooney as an American assassin that is being hunted in Italy while on his last assignment.  It is a story that has been told many times, but I trust George Clooney. He usually has a great eye for characters and has been on a great streak with his acting (Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, Fantastic Mr. Fox). I’m not familar with Corbijn, and from the look of his IMDB he has more experience in directing concerts and music related projects. The flick co-stars Irina Björklund.

Machete
Robert Rodriguez’s spoof trailer turned movie is the one I’m most excited about this weekend! It is an over the top b-action/horror/crime/thriller that stars one of film’s biggest badasses, Danny Trejo, as Machete.  Machete is an ex-Federale who launches a brutal rampage of violence after being betrayed by an organization that hired him. The flick co-stars Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and Lindsay Lohan.

Going the Distance
Next up is the long distance romantic comedy Going the Distance. The movie stars the on again/off again real life couple of Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, along with Christina Applegate, and Always Sunny‘s Charlie Day (who needs to be in more films!). The trailer was cute, and while it didn’t fully pull me it, it pulled in my wife who wants to check it out. A perfect dinner and a movie date movie. The flick is about two lovebirds that try to keep their romance alive regardless of living across the country from each other.

The Tillman Story
Last up is a documentary by Amir Bar-Lev that focuses on Pat Tillman, a pro football player who left a multimillion-dollar contract to join the military in a time of war and how the government manipulated his death into a tool for propaganda.

Will you be going to the movies this weekend?

FX Shows, It's Always Sunny, Nip Tuck

One of the most innovative channels on television, the FX Network, has revealed their fall start dates for their comedies Sons of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the twisted medical drama Nip/Tuck.

Anarchy, which stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, and complete badass Ron Perlman, will begin airing new episodes on September 8th (a Tuesday) at 10pm. The series focuses on the lives of a Northern Californian motorcycle club. This will be the comedy’s second season.

Sunny is easily one of my favorite shows on TV. It is consistently funny while crossing way over the line.  It returns to it’s Thursday  10pm time slot (although I prefer to Tivo it and watch it on Sundays with my coffee and breakfast). It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was created by and stars the team of Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day.  The series co-stars comedy legend Danny DeVito, and Kaitlin Olson. It focuses on a crude group of friends that own a bar in Philly.

The final season of Nip/Tuck will not start airing until October and will only consist of 10 episodes that will wrap up the lives of plastic surgeons Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). Sadly, I fell out of touch with the show in its forth season (the show is entering its sixth season). The storylines were outrageous from the beginning, but by the forth season, none of the characters were remotely likable. With no one left to root for, what is the point? I’m going to give the new season a chance and I really hope they they can recapture some of the energy and balance that the first two seasons had.

Are you excited for new episodes of any of FX’s fall lineup?

Its Always Sunny dvd

UPDATED: A winner has been drawn! Congratulations to Caroline! Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for our next contest.

Are you a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Well, you should be! It is easily one of the funniest shows on television. To say they push the envelope is an understatement. No subject is off limits for the gang. We’re giving away one copy of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Seasons 1 & 2 DVD. All that you have to do to be entered into the contest to win the DVD is post a comment on this article with your favorite the name of your favorite comedy TV series. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted through the e-mail address provided. A winner will be drawn on February 21st, 2009. Good luck!

And you can continue reading to check out the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Seasons 1 & 2 DVD details and contest eligibility.

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