Pacific Rim: A (Mostly) Spoiler-Free Gushfest

This was the movie I was born to see.

Giant Robots versus Giant Monsters.

This was the movie I never thought I’d get to see.

To give a little background, I used to haunt the matinee showings of Godzilla movies my hometown theatre put on sometimes on Saturday afternoons. If I’m pressed to name a favourite science fiction movie, I say Gojira. One of the first comics I ever picked up was Shogun Warriors #15. (Still have it)

I don’t know where to even begin to dissect this movie. All I’ve been left thinking is: awesome.

Normally, I don’t bother with 3D if I have the option, but the 3D conversion didn’t feel tacked on in Pacific Rim, and didn’t play it for cheap gags or tricks. I didn’t have a headache by the time the movie was over either, which I often do after a 3D summer blockbuster.

The music was perfect. Each of the Jaegers had their own theme music, appropriate to their nationalities. And the Jaegers! Those three hundred feet tall robots always seemed to have weight. Such a hard trick to pull off with CGI. Gipsy Danger is a brilliant looking lead robot. But you could also believe that the Jaegers were developed by different countries, and at different times in war against the Kaiju. And while I am dubious of the physics that would allow a tanker ship to be used as a baseball bat (more than once!), quite simply, I didn’t care.

Two of the major rules of Jaeger piloting seem to be: 1. Don’t touch Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and 2. Don’t touch Stacker Pentecost. Idris Elba absolutely killed it in Pacific Rim (he always does). But all of the cast were great. Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, and of course, Ron Perlman.

The story (and yes, there was one) was smarter than you’d expect, while never forgetting what it was supposed to be: a huge spectacle. Tonally, despite the end of the world being at stake, the movie seemed overly grim or dour.

My only complaint (and it’s barely that) would be that I wanted more. More Jaegers. More Kaiju. More Jaeger versus Kaiju fights. More Ron Perlman. I understand why I couldn’t get these things. Budgets. Pacing. Blah, blah, blah. I get it. I’m sure Guillermo Del Toro has notebooks full of more monsters and robots. Maybe we’ll get to see them some day. So, I guess my only complaint is not really a complaint, just me being greedy.

Now if only the box office for Pacific Rim will justify more movies like it. Should Marvel’s space opera weirdo fest Guardians of the Galaxy work, I might, dare I dream, get a Red Ronin versus Fin Fang Foom movie?

Dare to dream. Dare to dream.

In the meantime, I’m off to go buy another ticket so I can see Pacific Rim again. You should to. Right. Now.

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A Review of J.M. Frey’s Triptych

I’ve been promising to post some reviews of things that I’ve enjoyed on the blog for a while now, so here’s the first: J.M. Frey’s Triptych.

I was excited to read this one. Frey is going to be the Canadian author Guest of Honour at my local SF&F convention, Keycon, and I always try to read some of the attending authors work, if possible. Full disclosure, (for those who get their underpants in a twist about such things) the author provided me with an electronic copy of the book for the purposes of this review. Also, **spoilers** for those who care.

For a little context ab out the book, here’s the publisher copy:

IN THE NEAR FUTURE, humankind has mastered the arts of peace, tolerance, and acceptance. At least, that’s what we claim. But then they arrive. Aliens–the last of a dead race. Suffering culture shock of the worst kind, they must take refuge on a world they cannot understand; one which cannot comprehend the scope of their loss.  Taciturn Gwen Pierson and super-geek Basil Grey are Specialists for the Institute–an organization set up to help alien integration into our societies. They take in Kalp, a widower who escaped his dying world with nothing but his own life and the unfinished toy he was making for a child that will never be born.  But on the aliens’ world, family units come in threes, and when Kalp turns to them for comfort, they unintentionally, but happily, find themselves Kalp’s lovers. And then, aliens–and the Specialists who have been most accepting of them–start dying, picked off by assassins. The people of Earth, it seems, are not quite as tolerant as they proclaim.

Triptych is fittingly told in three parts, with three different voices, Gwen’s mother, Evvie, the alien, Kalp, and Specialist, Basil. Kalp’s voice was probably my favourite. Frey deals with the alien culture very well, and I enjoyed Kalp’s reactions to life on Earth. There is also some great world building and interesting biology and society to Frey’s aliens. I particularly liked the idea of the alien’s family group being a matter of threes rather than twos; one parent to give birth, one to work and provide for the family and the third to care for mother and child.

The gradual insertion of Kalp into Gwen and Basil’s existing relationship was I also totally believed that a segment of humanity would flip out, not only at the prospect of aliens among us, but at us sharing our lives and love with them. I do have hope for humanity’s future (most days) but seeing the hate coming from some opponents of marriage equality, I can only imagine Pat the reaction if that “gay” person was also blue. It was absolutely heart wrenching when Gwen loses her baby because of an attack by such a bigot.

There is a time travel element to the book, which is not my favourite science fiction trope, however, Frey handled it well. I didn’t feel any lingering paradox gnats biting me, and I’m also glad she didn’t use it to obliterate the emotional punch of Gwen’s miscarriage.

All in all, Triptych is fast-paced, highly enjoyable science fiction that really delivers with its characters. Highly recommended!