Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monsters! Robots! Monsters vs. robots!

Pacific Rim
Review by Lyda Morehouse 
Release date: July 12, 2013
Director: Guillermo Del Toro

On the drive to the theatre to see Pacific Rim, I told my friends, “You know what I want this movie to be?  Monsters! Robots! Monsters vs. Robots!”

One-hundred and thirty-one minutes later, I nodded sagely and pronounced gleefully, “There were monsters! There were robots!  They fought!”

What I loved about Pacific Rim is that Guillermo Del Toro didn’t even pretend that wasn’t exactly the sort of movie he set out to make.  Before we even see the movie title credits we’re thrown into a montage that explains everything we need to know: for reasons unknown (and who cares!?), alien monsters started rising out of a rift/wormhole in the Pacific and humanity bonded together to create giant robots to stop them from stomping Tokyo (and Sidney, San Francisco, etc.) to smithereens (never mind that our giant robots do at least as much damage, because: Monsters! Robots! Monsters vs. Robots!)

The story rather foolishly, in my opinion, follows our handsome, indistinguishable dude-hero, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) as he falls from grace as a jaegger, a monster/kaiju hunter (aka robot driver), when a mission goes horribly wrong.  Eventually, and as a surprise to no one but our hero, Raleigh is called back to action when the kaiju mysteriously power-up and he is needed.  Having lost his jaegger partner, he’s paired up with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a sexy badass with a mysterious past and a controlling father-figure.

For my money, Mako would have made a better main character.  I found her back story compelling and her moment of honor and revenge was by far the most emotionally satisfying and visually awesome (swords!) part of the movie.  My only other disappointment of the movie was that Mako didn’t get to beat her own apology out of the indistinguishable jackass rival-character.

There were side plots involving somewhat mad scientists and Ron Perlman being awesome in gold-plated shoes.

My only true caveat about Pacific Rim is that I think it appeals most to either serious or casual fans of the kaiju genre (which is all the Godzilla films as well as some others.)  I fall into the casual fan category, but, on the flipside, I’m a big shonen manga/anime fan. I will happily watch hours and hours of movies and TV shows that involve fight scene after fight scene where our clichéd hero powers-up and shouts things like “Thundercloud formation!”  (an actual moment in Pacific Rim, by the way, but not done by our hero.)  I’ve been told by people much more knowledgeable about such things than I, that there are not only a ton of homages to the original Godzilla films, but also moments that will feel gleefully familiar to fans of Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam, Evangelion.

But, all that being said, I went along with one friend who was bored almost to tears by Pacific Rim, because it wasn’t her thing. The idea of “Monsters! Robots! Monsters and Robots!” was not enough for her.  She wanted decent dialogue, a bit of humor, characters to care about, and maybe, you know, a story.

Eh, whatever.  We agreed to disagree about Pacific Rim. Because: Swords! Acid spitting kaiju! Elbow rockets!  Wing-sprouting monsters!

And . . . did I mention?  There were monsters!  There were robots!  They fought!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Best laid plans and Trailer Time

I was going to post a review last week of a magazine. Then I was going to do it this week. I've had zero time to read. Which is funny, since I got laid off last Tuesday. They let me work out the rest of the week and so far this week I've been buried in wedding preparations (the big day is a month away) and helping with a benefit concert for a musician friend with cancer. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. We also lost another friend to cancer (one of my fiancé's groomsmen) and my fiancé and his brother reconciled while I was getting laid off. Then there's applying for unemployment, filing a claim with the labor board (still haven't been paid by the new owner for my last week), getting the brakes fixed on my car, etc. I'm really gonna need that honeymoon!

I have started reading William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher. It would be a great idea for an activity at a sci-fi convention or meet-up. Do a table reading. It's much better done aloud. It would make a great Saturday Night Live skit, but I don't know if I'll still find it so amusing half-way through. I mean, we know what's gonna happen. The quirky fun will get old I'm afraid. But here's an excerpt for you.
C-3PO          ---Thou shalt not label me
              A mindless, brute philosopher! Nay, nay,
              Thou overladen glob of grease, thou imp,
              Thou rubbish bucket fit for scrap, thou blue
              And silver pile of bantha dung! Now, come,
              And get thee hence away lest someone sees.
R2-D2   Beep, meep, beep, squeak, beep, beep, beepm meep, beep, whee!
C3PO    What secret mission? And what plans? What dost
              Thou talk about? I'll surely not get in! 
                                                                     [Sound of blast.
              I warrant I'll regret this. So say I!
                                                      [Exit C-3PO into escape pod.

So, here I am being lazy again. I hope you don't mind.

The Colony. Hmmm. Looks like another zombie movie. Yum. Yum. This one comes out in September. Why do they bury this information, so you have to dig for it? Just sayin'.

Gravity. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I'm fans of both. :)

We have to wait six months for this one, but it looks great.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Shakespeare's Star Wars and may the Fourth be with you!

Happy Fourth of July! Declare your independence from the mundane today! 

I can't wait to dig into this lovely little book. Mind you, I'm reading two books and a magazine at the moment. Pretty neat trailer, eh?

In Minister of Chance news, the prologue and all five episodes of this fabulous sonic movie are available for download at iTunes for free. Meanwhile, their Kickstarter campaign needs your help as they bring the story to the screen as a feature movie. Visit to download the sonic movie and help them get the feature film going. This is a spin-off of sorts from the Dr. Who series and stars Julian Wadham, Lauren Crace, Jenny Agutter (Logan's Run anyone?), Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. The sound and acting is top-notch. I've reviewed more than one episode here on Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys. Put Minister of Chance in the google search box on the right to find them.

The magazine I'm reading is the second volume of Galaxy's Edge. So far, I'm liking it better than the first. Some of the stories are riveting. The full review will follow next week. Meantime, my review of issue one is available here and volume three was just released on the first. Get it at Phoenix Pick's site, where you can also download a free novel. This month's Phoenix Pick's free book is Rogue Queen by L. Sprague de Camp. The description calls it a ground-breaking science fiction novel that was the first to explore sexual themes. Really? I find that hard to believe. Anyway, you can read it for free, so nothing lost. See what you think. The code to enter at Phoenix Pick is  9991539 and is good through July 2013.

May the Fourth be with you!