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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review - Pacific Rim

We are finally seeing the end of the summer blockbuster films streaming in from the USA. While there have been some really good (Man Of Steel, Despicable Me 2) and some really bad (Lone Ranger), finally comes the film we have been waiting for - Guillermo Del Toro's aliens vs robots flick Pacific Rim - and it does not disappoint.

This film packs a lot of punch while still managing to establish a cohesive and interesting plot, complete with characters you can relate to and care about. This is something that Summer blockbusters often fail to do, but Del Toro pulls it off without a hitch.

The movie's plot is pretty straight forward - aliens in another dimension have created a tunnel from their world to ours through a massive trench in the Pacific Ocean (apparently a lot of it is due to humans polluting?). The aliens are sending massive monsters called Kaiju to eliminate the human race before consuming our world. After several major cities are destroyed by these monsters, the government's of the world unite together and create massive robots called Jaegers. Powered by two humans whose minds are linked together, the Jaegers are all that's left that can save humanity from destruction.

This doesn't sound like much to write home about, but the strength of this film lies mainly with its human characters. The three main characters are a truly international bunch comprising of an American rookie soldier Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), an Australian hunter Chuck (Robert Kazinsky) and a Hong Kong damaged girl Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). These three characters enhance this film through their complicated and gripping backstories, providing an emotional connection before the alien mayhem sets loose.

Mako in particular provides a moving tribute when her memories are shared and we get to see how she was discovered and her experience with the aliens. It is rare to find this much emotion and effort put into the story of a summer blockbuster that essentially wants to show off flashy action sequences.

So the story works, but how was the action? In my opinion, it was perfect. There is an explosive start to give the audience a little taste, the film then plunges into story and character development, and in the end Del Toro saves the big action for the final scenes of the film. The action scenes are well choreographed and not as full on as, dare I say it, Transformers 3. The action scenes in this film make sense and are never allowed to continue on to become a mindless array of destruction like the Michael Bay film did. You will definitely be wanting more at the end of this film.

The great thing about Del Toro is his constant winks and nods to old school, stereotypical blockbusters through the hilarious characters Dr Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) who are the two nerdy scientists providing all of the outrageous and hilarious answers to the films gaping plot holes. They are always keeping things light and play these characters perfectly. This side of Del Toro's humour adds a lightness that the film needs at times.

What didn't work? The audio was a little off. The speech should have been louder because in some parts the blaring music drowned out the speech. That said it wasn't anything too damaging, and honestly, this is the only fault I could find with this film.

Watching the trailer I expected a mammoth, gargantuan film that was full of action, and this film delivers on my expectations. The action sequences are just eye poppingly out of this world and is everything that you could want from a summer blockbuster. What I didn't expect was how good the story would be, and how much I would fall in love with the characters. This is the film that we have been waiting for all season, make sure you check out Pacific Rim.

Review by Alaisdair Dewar

Review - The Conjuring

The Conjuring is the latest from James Wan (Saw, Insidious) and instead of continuing with the torture porn gore we are being plagued with, Wan takes an old school approach to the traditional horror film and deliver's the creepiest film since Mama.

Set in the 1970's (and apparently based on a true story?) the film follows the Perron family mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and father Roger (Ron Livingston) who move their five girls into an old farmhouse. When some strange things start happening in the house, Carolyn enlists the help of famous paranormal investigators Lorraine (Verma Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren to get to the bottom of what is happening.
I am not going into detail about the plot as there are a lot of surprises and twists that I don't want to ruin.

Horror films have been a complete mixed bag in the last few years, with rare gems like Mama and Insidious popping up from time to time, but nothing directed at a mainstream horror audience that actually delivered. Fortunately this film does that, initially when I saw this film I was extremely disappointed. It wasn't the film that I thought it was going to be, it wasn't a gory horror film that I was expecting. Instead I got a truly terrifying and chilling horror story that used a cohesive and intricate plot. The movie spends the first half building the characters, making you care about them, this is something that so many horror films miss.

Each and every one of the girls has a story that will interest you, as well as the two parents struggling to make ends meet and look after their family. This goes hand in hand with the Warren's who themselves have a child that is struggling to be accepted with her parents gone so much. So much work and effort has gone into the story and it clearly shows on screen.

In the second half of the film all hell breaks loose and using the technique of the less you see, the scarier it gets is used and it gets full on. The audience was jumping, screaming and if you have seen the trailer the truly terrifying hide and clap will send shivers down your spine.

Acting wise there is not a bad performance to be seen in this film, everyone puts on a convincing and stellar performance in particular Farmiga and Wilson play the part of the Warren's perfectly. The haunted and tortured couple who are para-normal investigators, while juggling a young daughter is incredibly touching and will cement their roles in the undoubtable future of this franchise.

Horror buffs expecting a bloody gore fest will be disappointed, but if you like frights and old school horror charm, you will fall in love with this film just as I did. The Conjuring is one of the most promising horror films I have seen in the last few years and is worth catching at the movies, especially in a full cinema!

Review by Alaisdair Dewar


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