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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hollywood has begun to understand – Robots! That’s what it’s all about, people. A movie with robots…and a human element.

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Not that Pac Rim is as good as RoboCop. For starters, PRim is really shallow. There’s bad guys, there’s good guys, there’s a tiny bit of romance…that’s it. It’s a big dumb action movie that happens to be done well. The zany scientists’ subplot is the only thing that gives the movie any intrigue, and it also contains the only segments with believable dialogue. All the military dude stuff…it’s overly dramatic. Hot-blooded SERIOUSNESS. It wasn’t as hokey as Man of Steel, but it’s uninteresting, regardless. Anyway, the scientists’ investigation into the monsters’ origin could have led to a deeper movie, but it just ended up serving the main plot. It’s a safe bet that the original script had way more going on, but not much made it into the final cut. Guillermo del Toro, the film’s director, says there is no “extended cut,” that the theatrical version is his “director’s cut.” Whatever, dude.

RoboCop doesn’t do this stuff. It’s as deep as can be, but it’s also a brutal and stupid revenge movie. It was engineered to be that way by Neumeier, Miner, and Verhoeven. It doesn’t feel like anything is missing, unless you watch the R-rated version – then you’re missing some extra blood and guts. Fun action + human emotion = good times.

Back to Pacific Rim – the movie is mostly a collection of homages to Japanese media…and really only two specific forms: Mech (giant robots) anime, and Kaiju (monster) movies. There’s many parallels to be drawn between Pacific Rim and the popular anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, though they both pull from older IPs. You’ve got the end of the world by waves of foreign invaders, multiple nations cooperating in defense, pilots mentally synching with their bots…etc. While I love a good tribute piece, RoboCop managed to do justice to its cultural references while creating a whole new chic. It’s as influential as it is influenced. Pacific Rim is too simple to be remembered for a long time, but it’s a well put-together movie for the time being.

Final note: While this type of movie couldn’t be done without it, CGI is still confusing and bad and dumb

NOT-ROBOCOP

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Many movies are successful because they do several things very well. This Is the End is supposed to be a dumb comedy, but also a movie about an ebbing friendship and the end of the world. RoboCop also wanted to accomplish more than its primary objective; it’s a sci-fi cop thriller, but it’s also a cynical satire of our materialistic world. It pulled both of those things off flawlessly, while This Is the End felt like a rote comedic exercise with not much else for audiences to enjoy.

The guys that made TItE admit that they are students of the Apatow school of cinema. Judd Apatow’s breakthrough movie was The 40-Year Old Virgin, which is a tender, late-coming-of-age film filled with ridiculous humor. That movie kicked off a series of comedies with the same recipe: oodles of sentimentality with silly improvised dialogue. With each Apatow-helmed movie, both the emotion and the humor felt more and more forced. They were relying too heavily on their actors’ irreverent improvisations while forgetting to be well-written movies. Kind of like how the series of movies with the word “RoboCop” in their titles became less and less badass with each release. They wanted cool robot fights, but didn’t bother with any of the depth the original RC had. For this reason, they cannot even be considered RoboCop movies. In fact, there’s reason to start a petition to remove that word from their titles.

Anyway, though Apatow-produced movies like Walk Hard and Forgetting Sarah Marshall were as hilarious as they were refreshing, the movies that wanted to be like 40-Year-Old just got boring. Part of what made the above movies great is that they felt like well-written movies first and comedies second.  TItE barely makes an attempt at being anything else but an improv-style comedy. So when the familiar, tired, comedic bickering between actors isn’t working, it feels like a failure. Actually, RoboCop actually has more laughs in it than this movie. The man behind Bixby Snyder was a comedic genius, and who can forget ED-209’s last, sputtering moments before collapsing outside of the OCP building?

Never forget your prime directives!

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