Saturday, July 13, 2013

We are the Sprocket Holes vol. 206

PACIFIC RIM and the golden age of Action Figure Cinema.

what is Action Figure cinema, you ask?

Films that successfully recreate the blissfully apocalyptic landscape of a young boy’s imagination as he strings together a weekend afternoon narrative drawing in any and all playthings at his disposal, displaying an infectious carelessness with regards to their intended relation to one another. Robocop and Swamp Thing will ride dragons to take on the Shredder’s army of Inhumanoids for the fate of Thundara… that sort of toy chest Mad Lib opens up an expansively rich universe, so creatively pregnant and removed from predictability, which acts as the germ for the increasing handfuls of entertainment on the high and low ends of the creative spectrum. MANBORG, FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, the comic/upcoming animated series AXE COP; Most of these have snugly been embraced by cult fans across the globe, but Guilermo Del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM is the first to truly capture this aesthetic vastness on a near-incalculably large scale. 

The story is simple: a transdimensional rift in the pacific ocean enables Kaiju (a Japanese term meaning “strange beast”) to enter our world, where they level pretty much anything in their path. In order to combat the monsters, the nations of the world unite to construct Jaegers; Skyscraper-size Mechs piloted by two via a neurological link. For awhile, the Jaegers are successful, until bigger and deadlier Kaiju make their way to the surface. That’s where the story picks up.

Some have written the film off as a Monsters vs. Robots punchfest with little in the way of story or character. These people either haven’t seen the film, or they haven’t seen the film. All we need to know about each character is established pretty much as soon as we meet them; a Kaiju attack survivor who is seeking vengeance, a Scientist who is also a Kaiju enthusiast, a shady black market dealer of decontaminated Kaiju parts, a retired Jaeger pilot who lost his brother during a fight with a Kaiju… their motivations are clear and consistent, and much of the soul these characters posses is revealed in wordless gestures rather than didactic declarations or convoluted symbolism. The fights are cool as cool can cool, but there is no “Awwwww YEAH!” posturing, nor any lunkhead one-liners; it’s a big fucking thing doing everything in its power to stop another big fucking thing. There is much shown of both the construction of the Jaegers and the biology of the Kaiju, and how they’re both evolving to combat their respective menace, and you can feel the weight of every touchdown. There in lies the multiplying genius of Del Toro’s work; whether it’s probing art-horror like THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE or freeplay escapisim like PACIFIC RIM; a rich surface doesn’t conceal depth, it informs it, spawning an intricate universe where nothing is superfluous. 

Where the GI JOE and TRANSFORMERS adaptations were aggressively tepid and contemptuously joyless, PACIFIC RIM is bewitchingly graceful and undeniably welcoming; a labor of love so unconditional it crosses over into pop-artful psychedelia, a relieving antidote to the bleakly explosive bombardment of self-glowering post 9-11 fear-bait that has regretfully become the primary driving force behind many contemporary blockbusters, where thrill seeking escapists are made to feel guilty by the peddlers of their fix. No such hypocrisy can be found in PACIFIC RIM. No jingoistic pandering, no bad jokes about Kaiju genitals (though their excrement is mentioned in passing, it is done in such a brief way that it doesn’t feel like forced gross-out humor), the Kaiju and the Jaegers simultaneously invoke fear and awe, commanding our respect and attention. 

As for the unfortunately inevitable “haters”, well if you find anything offensive about this film, you must have been molested with a Godzilla doll while Ultraman watched or something. To find fault in PACIFIC RIM is like lamenting a 15 minute eye contact heavy ass-in-the-air hummer from Amber Heard because the long licking/whispery dirty talk combo between imbibes made you cum too hard. I understand it’s the internet era and we’re supposed to display nothing but contrarian vitriol with regards to anything that might bring forth a modicum of excitement to our otherwise unremarkable routines, but the whole “NERD RAGE” hand is beyond played at this point. i get it; you know everything about everything, posses a labyrinthine wealth of genre knowledge, and should act as a consultant for every single “geek” project under the sun, cause everyone knows you can do it better than the people who spend YEARS of their time, dedication, finances, and passion actualizing the material that has brought them so much emotional satisfaction and spiritual pleasantry. Please, do pick apart the minute flaws in this colossally gorgeous work, because in the end it’s YOUR sneeringly vicious needlessly opinionated blog post people will come to remember and revere, and not the monument to engrossing spectacle that carries with it the strength to unlock our own creative possibilities. 

you're a dick, is what i'm getting at here.

go see this big fucking thing so the other big fucking thing (GROWN UPS 2) doesn't survive.

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