According to the casting of Greta Gerwig in The House Of The Devil and Lena Dunham in The Inkeepers, to be the next WHITE GIRL MUCH? you just have to show up in a Ti West pic, but not too much.
How Pacific Rim avoids the frustration of masked violence in blockbusters
The best frame of 2013’s blockbuster season
Pacific Rim’s marketing campaign focused too much on the robots and one couldn’t shake the feeling that it would just be Warner Bros’ own Transformers, but with a homage-to-Japanese-film-monsters talk surrounding it to gain street credit among film geeks.
A misconception crushed by the first battle sequence: it’s huge, noisy and edited with an attention span that would take Michael Bay years of cocaine rehab to emulate those seconds long of uncut shots.
But when the first battle is over and Pacific Rim shows humans interacting for minutes without explosions getting in the way of conversations, the belief in its quality is in peril again: not only is the dialogue terrible, it is even bellow Bay’s standards. At least he tries to disguise his inane exchanges with failed attempts at jokes. The characters in Pacific Rim just spew their lines like some burden that has to be immediately disposed of or else they might suffer death by constipation.
In comes Charlie Day’s character, Doctor Geiszler, bringing along tons of brains, guts and other innards from the monsters they are fighting against. There, in plain sight. No shadow thrown over it: Geiszler even manipulates some of the material, for scientific purposes, and the camera goes all intimate with the monsters’ pieces, closing up on them, letting you know that the enemies humans are fighting against are made of flesh and whatever they call their version of blood.
This time, humans aren’t fighting against machines that bleed oil, or extra-terrestrial creatures that turn into dust when killed, or bad guys that miraculously survive car crashes or intense shootouts with only minor scratches on their faces and terrible one-liners in their mouths left from such potentially life-ending situations.
The most frustrating aspect of the blockbuster formula is the amount of violence it shows, with no follow-up on the consequences or flat-out lies about them. That’s why the bad guys in blockbusters are, mostly, inhuman creatures. And when they are human, the absence of blood or exposed guts is frustrating to the point of annoyance.
Pacific Rim has no red whatsoever, but del Toro was very careful in avoiding this specific blockbuster trap. Firstly: we are the robots now. Our enemies are living creatures as well, but we are protect by gigantic robot shells, therefore human blood is difficult to extract in the context of the battle sequences, thus respecting the sacred barriers of the PG-13 rating. If a human dies in Pacific Rim, it is either crushed by its own robot or in a secondary location, away from the main fights (the casualties, etc).
But when a monster dies, del Toro rests the camera on the creatures’ mutilated exterior for at least a couple of seconds after they’ve been killed. Case in point: the fight sequence at the docks, when one robot shoots a monster in the belly and flies away, leaving the monster’s belly open, its exposed skeleton actually shining.
It’s not a groundbreaking effort, but the fact that del Toro at least tried to be more obvious about violence in a massive blockbuster gives Pacific Rim an extra edge compared to its fellow extremely expensive films, and also compensates some of its own major flaws. The last time someone actually tried to show violence in a shocking way while maintaining its PG-13 status involved a Joker making a pencil disappear and that was way too long ago.
The best scene in Pacific Rim is one that acknowledges its crying will to be Rated R by referencing the best adult sci-fi around: when the baby monster surprisingly escapes the womb of his dead momma monster. It’s disgustingly violent (and a little tender). It’s also the most obvious nod to Ridley Scott’s and David Cronenberg’s great contributions to the grotesque genre.
We know what del Toro is capable of (I’ll slowly spell T-H-E D-E-V-I-L’-S B-A-C-K-B-O-N-E), which makes me think that he had to dumb down most of Pacific Rim just to show a baby crawling out of his dead mother to be strangled to death by its own umbilical cord while struggling to get away. Say this sentence out loud and realize it was featured in one of 2013’s most expensive films. It was all worth it.
If you invert the Bechdel Test (a movie must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man) is almost impossible to find a film where two men talk to each other about something other than women. I’m not saying that *the problem* it wants to point doesn’t exist. But the test is pretty flawed.