Pacific Rim: Uprising

A flashback to the first movie :: The story of Pacific Rim had its focus at the area where about 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occured, and it was discovered that something more was responsible for the same. Then came the giant alien creatures attacking Earth after coming in through an inter-dimensional portal located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. As it was discovered that these creatures named Kaijus would keep coming, and no wall could stop them, there were massive robotic machines called Jaegers constructed to combat the threat. These machines were too huge and complicated that each Jaeger had to be controlled by two or more people who shared the load inside the machine. They were connected by a neural bridge in a process called “drifting” through which they shared their minds with the machine. With Jaegers getting destroyed faster than they are built, they needed to stop the attacks by closing the bridge.

What is the movie about? :: Years have passed after the pilots of the iconic Jaegar Gipsy Danger Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) using the jaegar’s nuclear reactor to seal the breach through which the creatures passed through. There hasn’t been a Kaiju attack for a very long time, and former Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Kaiju War hero and martyr General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) makes a living by stealing and selling old Jaeger parts on the black market. But him, along with the teenager Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) are arrested for their illegal work with Jaegars. In return for being set free, he is forced to begin training Jaeger program recruits with his former co-pilot, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), and Amara who has knowledge of Jaegers is also taken into the programme as new recruit for pilot training.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: As the Jaeger training continues hoping to battle any possible return of the Kaijus or any alien creature from another planet or dimension, the programme itself is threatened by the Shao Corporation’s remotely controlled giant drones idea lead by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) and supported by scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). There is the plan to get more giant robots controlled from a safe location, without the need for neurally compatible pilots risking their lives in battle. But Mako is doubtful about the possibilities of such an idea, as the system could be hacked with long distance signals responsible for success and defeat in combat. But before she is able to submit her final report about the possibility of such a programme, an unexpected event occurs, which brings the twist to the proceedings.

And what else is to come? :: It is then that a rogue Jaeger, Obsidian Fury attacks the city, and kills Mako along with many other civilians, and causing destruction to the city. Gipsy Avenger, the spiritual successor to Gipsy Danger controlled by Jake Pentecost and Nate Lambert manages to hold on against the far advanced design of Obsidian Fury, before the rogue Jaegar retreats with the arrival of the other Jaegars, Saber Athena, Bracer Phoenix and Guardian Bravo. This leads to a quick approval of the drone programme, and the first group of drones are deployed faster than they intended to be. But it turns out that the drones are not on their sides, as they are quick to get rid of the cannons and attack the Jaegers at the base of operations. As Gipsy Avenger finally finds and defeats Obsidian Fury, there is a secret revealed, and it is not sweet, or positive for humanity and its continued existence, as extinction threatens.

The defence of Pacific Rim: Uprising :: Despite missing this year’s Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro at the helm, this movie has held its ground – even after not matching the first flick, this one has enough to make it better than any transformers movie that has released in the last few years including the last one. The detailing on the screen remains nice, even though not as much as the previous movie which had better quality there. The action sequences are more though, as it is where the movie focuses the most, along with a few twists in between; special effects are great without doubt. The robots look nice, and the Kaijus, even though are present for lesser time than they used to be in the first movie, keeps us further interested. The movie is even lighter than its predecessor, and makes it more for the families. There is also some good acting and fantastic visuals to go with it, plus we also have a final scene that calls for a possible sequel.

The claws of flaw :: There is no chance to match the Guillermo del Toro vision of Pacific Rim, as Pacific Rim: Uprising surely falls short with its content. This kind of a comparison was always expected to be done, and we see that the same strange beauty and smartness is not displayed in this one which just follows the route to make the best out of the success of the first flick. There are more robots, but none of them matches the first movie’s Gipsy Danger, Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha and Striker Eureka. The story also trails in comparison to the first movie, and those moments of goosebumps are missing this time. The movie is also very less about its characters this time, and the neural bridge never really gets the attention as it used to get, and repetitions can be seen. This one requires the possible third movie to take it to the next level, and lets hope that Guillermo del Toro plays a bigger role in that one to make sure that this franchise gets a big boost, as we need it as much as they do.

How it finishes :: Pacific Rim continues to do what Transformers movie franchise could have done better. I have found this one to be even better than the big hyped superhero movie, Black Panther. It is something that has the core in Guillermo del Toro’s grand vision, and due to the same, we will always enjoy a movie in this series. It is sure to make Transformers fans jealous, and lets hope that the franchise with autobots and decepticons will take something out of this movie to make those talking robotic aliens make the best use of its resources rather than repeating its events. With all its big action sequences and special effects, we won’t be able to wait for a third movie for very long; we are sure that there can be more – but even this sequel had taken about five years and so, lets hope that we have the next one before we are out of the robotmonster effects witness on the big screen. Until then, enjoy Pacific Rim: Uprising as the big entertainer that it successfully manages to be. Who needs Independence Day when we have these?

Release date: 23rd March 2018
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Steven S DeKnight
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin, Charlie Day

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

47 Ronin

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Swords and martial arts :: Just a few days after I watched The Forbidden Kingdom on television, this movie finally released in India, overtaking a few other movies which are still pending to be released here. Based on the legend about the revenge of the Forty-seven Ronin based on Japan, the movie brings back the swords and martial arts into the Hollywood which has been taken over by men with the superpowers in the last two years. The movie also marks Keanu Reeves coming to the big screen in this part of the world after a long time. Well, this is the right time for release indeed, as the Christmas releases have been losing power, and with only The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Wolf of Wall Street to give some challenge, 47 Ronin does have the opportunity to do its best here, with one of the most famous actors (thanks to The Matrix) for the people here, as the critical opinions are forgotten.

What is it about? :: Kai (Keanu Reeves) is an outcast among the samurai, as he lives a life throughout which he is ignored as he is a half-breed, half-British and half-Japanese. He is in love with Mika (Kou Shibasaki), which both of them haven’t taken far, as she is the daughter of a Samurai Lord and he is the forsaken one. But as Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) with the aid of a witch Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi) murders the Lord and takes over the kingdom, the Samurai are banished from their lands and Kai is sold into slavery due to his low birth. But they vow to return and avenge their master under the leadership of Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada). 47 in number, including Kai who wishes to save Mika from being forced into marrying the new Lord, the team goes through dangerous quests in order to achieve their objective. The movie deals with their pain, hardships and questions about their possible success in their primary objective.

The defence of 47 Ronin :: Whatever the critics say, 47 Ronin is a colourful movie, and it is difficult not to get lost in the beauty of its colours as well as its use of light, darkness and shadows. There is a beautiful environment created by the movie which seeks our attention. The sword-fights are well-executed without the addition of exaggeration which has threatened to plague this one right from the beginning. There are also some interesting dialogues, some philosophical and some just being stylish. There are also a few funny moments, quite short in length. The CGI which involves some creatures as well as the shape-shifting skills of the witch turned out to be good too, and in the 3D, they looked interesting throughout, but considering the visual experiences we had last year, one can’t be too addicted to this one. The costumes are superb, and the fact that the movie doesn’t delay in getting into action sequences also helps.

Claws of flaw :: The movie takes the slower path at times, staying away from action and keeping the actors doing nothing. The story moves on through a predictable path, and there are not many things happening out there that you haven’t been expecting for a long time. Also, there are strange things happening throughout the movie – no I am not talking about the mass honour suicides, but creatures appearing just for being there and add to the overall head count of the movie, and the “outcast thing” given too much prominence. The romantic side is also less interesting, and one tends to wonder if there was any need for that, as avenging the master would have been more than enough – but they need some romance, to satisfy that kind of people who most probably won’t watch this movie. They have also made Keanu Reeves’ character not bringing that kind of fun which he is expected to take into a movie.

Performers of the soul :: Keanu Reeves is the star, despite his character being one of the least interesting Samurai ever. But as a character who can bring something into an action movie, this one works perfectly. The star from The Matrix and Constantine is quite brilliant in his portrayal of a character which might not have been even needed in this movie. Did they take that half-breed idea right out of those creatures in Constantine? Our hero is kind of there at the wrong place, but the way in which he manages it has to be appreciated. It is good to see that Rinko Kikuchi takes over so well, and that was to be expected after watching her in Pacific Rim. Kou Shibasaki is beautiful, and Hiroyuki Sanada comes up with a performance that is one step above the movie. Tadanobu Asano’s villain is less explored, even as it is an okay screen presence, which kind of fades in comparison with the witch who runs the evil side.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s story of ronin, the samurai with no master, is more of a story of emotions and honour rather than the typical swords and martial arts flick which is usually expected. The two-handed Samurai stuff reminds one of The Wolverine, and the word “half-breeds” of Constantine. There is a lot of emotional undercurrents going on, but just some of them which affects us. As we are not into the Japanese history or legends, it is almost impossible to have a perfect look into it, and it is not easy to do justice to the same. It seems to treat the same with its CGI creatures, which include a six eyed cattle-like creature, a disfigured monk-like person with superpowers, a huge Samurai figure clothed in what looks like metal and the witch’s own white wolf, weird spider and the serpent-like dragon which breathes fire. There is not much to attach the soul to, right there. One can just embrace this movie for how much it catches your attention in the movie hall.

How it finishes :: 47 Ronin is no 300, and it is not even The Forbidden Kingdom. But that doesn’t take a lot out of its pocket. We watched the movie during an almost full show at a place where English movies are not supposed to attract the viewers especially if any Malayalam movie is running, and so I would say that it is doing okay here, despite all the negativity which has been associated with it in North America and other places and also that low box-office collection which has been associated with this. After all, who can say no to a Keanu Reeves movie with sword-fights shot in 3D? There are more of The Matrix fans around here than one can imagine, and that face of Neo is not something that can easily fade away. So 47 Ronin should continue to do fine for a week, and nothing more, as none of the English movies in the theatre right now are expected to carry over to the next release date.

Release date: 3rd January 2014 (India); 25th December 2013 (US)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Carl Erik Rinsch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Kou Shibasaki, Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Jin Akanishi, Min Tanaka, Neil Fingleton, Masayoshi Haneda, Hiroshi Sogabe, Takato Yonemoto, Hiroshi Yamada, Shu Nakajima, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pacific Rim

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The fictional stories concerning the aliens from outer-space have always been with us through those books, movies, cartoons and comics right from the childhood. Alien, Predator and Event Horizon were among the best feeders of outer-space horror. It was just a few weeks ago, that the audience accepted the friendly neighborhood alien in Man of Steel, and the same space travel thing was explored thrice in the last few months, with Star Trek: Into Darkness, Oblivion and the weaker of the group, After Earth. Well, this time, from the depths of abyss comes the alien creatures, not from the sky, but from underneath the oceans to the above world. The first choice of looking for alien life form was always beyond the stars, which is actually quite surprising. For the common man, it should not have been so, but unfortunately they have been loaded with ideas of life on other planets by science even as the fact remains that they have never seen any of these planets or stars in the way they are taught in the school. I would have preferred not to study the same and choose only art and literature, but unfortunately, education is clearly biased towards science. What this study of science does is that it unintentionally makes religion the more believable thing around for the intellectuals of the highest class. It is on a blind faith of technology and scientific extremism that the concept of space aliens are based on, and it is this same thing that Guillermo del Toro has annihilated here; not that it was not done before, but this time, it is in the form an incredibly powerful spectacle.

Del Toro’s work has always come up with beauty in horror, and this movie is no exception. The movie plunges into the depths of the theme of alien invasion and comes up with that pure awesomeness which The Avengers missed by some distance and Transformers: Dark of the Moon missed by quite a million light years. This is what Transformers should have been, but unfortunately that series lost all the good things with the second and third parts of the movie. Pacific Rim shows how a fighting machine should be. From the man who gave us Pan’s Labyrinth, at least this much was expected, and he has delivered it, with fantastic power which would make this the movie of the year so far, and may be even the best science fiction action move in two years. I didn’t really free myself from his Hellboy II: The Golden Army when I went to see this one, thanks to the television channels; and not to forget Blade II. There is one warning though, as this is not recommended for the movie cynics – they are the kind of people who will dislike this movie and come up with weird unimaginative reasons which are less significant than the smallest robot’s toe. If this movie can’t leave a smile on your face by the end, there is no doubt that such people belong to the Kaiju group, as the monster sympathizing kids who can’t bear to see their little dinosaur things losing to robots.

The movie takes the viewers to the future, when the planet is under attack by Kaiju, a name they call for the gigantic monsters continuously emerging from a portal beneath the ocean. After a number of attacks and destruction, the humans understand that it is not going to stop. To combat these big monsters, all the nations unite and use all their remaining resources to create the giant robots called Jaegers, each controlled by two (or more) pilots whose minds are joined by a neural bridge, as it would be too huge for two of them. But,The plot follows Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a former Jaeger pilot who had lost both his machine and his brother while fighting. He is called out of retirement by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and is teamed with a rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) in a last effort to defeat the monsters. At a time when Jaeger program is being decommissioned, and walls are built to protect the cities from the monsters, there is chance for one final attempt on closing the portal and saving the world with only four last robots remaining. As the monsters continue to evolve and adapt to the methods chosen by humans, the survival of both the man and the machine was becoming difficult, and with bigger and stronger monsters coming up, and the robots only getting older, the situation had turned clearly in favour of the monsters who are found to be controlled by minds and on a mission to colonize Earth.

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi gives the movie that right dose of memory, as they give to their giant machine in the story. Idris Elba gives a powerful performance throughout the movie. There is no romantic side to this story, and the feelings are of brotherhood and respect rather than some silly emotions of infatuation. The rest goes to the robots, except for some funny scenes. The movie is a fantastic visual treat, as if a wizard has combined his powers with a sorcerer of the other world. This is not a dark movie, as that ghost has currently gripped every story which is detached from the real world. There is beauty even in the monsters and the destruction that takes place, something which Transformers and The Avengers missed out on the artistic side. There is pure poetry in motion throughout the sequences involving the robots and the monsters. They are all beautifully done, with each minute detail given importance. There is even detail on the tiny insects which feed on the monsters – not that tiny when the humans see them though. The fight scenes are powerful and stylish, with 3D coming to the aid at the right moments. The cynics can stop asking scientific questions about the invasion as the creatures come out of portal underneath the ocean and not from underneath Earth in its literal sense. It might be surprising that just a portal answers so many questions, and in this case, it does. Another thing to be noted is that times flies throughout this movie, and one gets too busy with the movie that it goes unnoticed.

This is obviously different from Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy and therefore it is a crime to expect the same kind of thing here, even as there is the clear “del Toro tag” throughout the movie. Each and every detail of the robots and the monsters is to be looked at, for they are not simple giant robots and gigantic monsters. Gipsy Danger, the old model which saves the day differs considerably from Crimson Typhoon, the three armed robot with three pilots. The Russian robot Cherno Alpha gives another feeling at the mean time, and Striker Eureka comes up with its robotic structure almost the exact opposite. Coyote Tango, piloted by Stacker Pentecost has a lesser appearance. Even the monsters are never the same, as some of them can spit acid, some of them can fly, and some of them can move at lightning speed – none of them looking the same. The climate, and the whole setting of the fights also seem to assert this powerful detail which has been running through the movie. Another point is the use of collective memory, as a shared group of memories, only this time, it is really what it means literally. There is that world of shared memory and shared folders which we found easier to attach with the computers and electronic devices – it has such a powerful significance; and such a thing would solve the differences and save the world threatened by humans.

One question shall haunt me for a long time though; to watch this movie two or three more times or to be so satisfied with this spectacle that I take a break from watching movies. There are moments which can make one feel that it is the ultimate satisfaction, and as long as science fiction movies are considered, this is close enough to the same. There are all the morals and the inspiring factors in place, but there is no preachy side to this one. The moments to watch out for should be I. The first battle between Gypsy Danger and a monster (just because it is the first fight), II. The return of Gypsy Danger to the field (that moment of sudden appearance), III. The battle in the air (when the sword takes over), IV. The final underwater climax battle (from the moment the first monster strikes). There is no forgetting the use of ship as a weapon during that moment of awesomeness. This could be better summarized by saying that the movie has a very good beginning and a fantastic last fourty five minutes. It takes you to another world, where these monsters are real, and they can be beaten. There is inspiration, and there is the ability to keep you on the edge of your seats; there is the message of never-ending hope and the assertion of faith and belief. Along with that there is the rain and the water of the ocean which seems to have a purifying effect in 3D. The movie has a lot of trust and sharing of other’s memories going on, which points a lot to the current world. So what can we expect from a possible sequel than pure awesomeness? This one was a safe bet for me though, as there is one director who has never come close to disappointing me, and he is directing this movie.

The fact remains that Pacific Rim will continue the winning run of Warner Bros, and the reason for its success at this part of the world should be the trailers and the posters at the multiplexes which does nothing less than being impressive. Another thing is that the early reviews have all been very positive, and those which are negative, I wouldn’t call them reviews, as none of them has come up with any valid argument to not recommending this movie. It is a known truth that people love some random human being in a metal suit as they have appreciated Iron Man, and they also love robots, considering the huge success of Transformers with nothing much to offer in the last two movies of the series. Pacific Rim has both of them, and with the right people to handle the same. Considering the kind of audience the movie attracts, the only movie which can give some challenge is The Wolverine, as the release of White House Down next week here won’t change a thing, thanks to Olympus Has Fallen. R.I.P.D. and The Conjuring will attract only selected viewers, and RED 2 has a chance of making lesser impact than expected here. Then there would be The Smurfs 2 which would take not much of the audience of this movie away from action. The movie would stay in the theatres here till August unless The Wolverine comes up with a miracle, or there is an influx of Hindi and Malayalam movies of high quality.

Release date: 12th July 2013
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Max Martini, Ron Perlman, Robert Maillet, Heather Doerksen, Burn Gorman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.