Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Telling in the Language of Metal

I watched Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim a few weeks back. What a fun movie! Respected it's B-movie origins while updating the genre for our time. What's interesting to me about the movie is that the movie felt like so much more than the fun action scenes and the cool mecha. But most of the dialog in the flick is pretty bad. Cliche-level bad, to the point where Stacker Pentecost's speech at the end of the movie has inspired a lot of parodies. So what set the movie apart? I didn't really understand it until I read Storming the Ivory Tower's excellent post "The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim." It's worth a read in its entirety, as the author details exactly how del Toro uses visuals to tell a lot of his story. In addition, I loved the post's close:
"...a film like Pacific Rim is treated as somehow naive or insignificant because it dares, gasp!, to have not just a unified message, but a quite positive, affirmative message, spoken not in the language of Lifetime movies or this year's crop of Oscar-bait, but in the language of Metal, the language of force and bombast and people in giant fucking robots punching Godzilla in the face.
We have reached a point, and really let this one sink in because it gets more flooring the more you think about it, where it's more radical and unacceptable to say, "Humans can accomplish amazing things when we set aside our differences and disagreements and work together to make the world a better place," than to say something sour and bitter and cynical.
Cynicism used to be the radical thing.
Now it's as mainstream as Greenday.
So, what I'm asking is that you give the film a second look, if you're not already one of us fanatics who loved it the first time through. Give it a chance to speak to you in its own language. Be the Raleigh in this situation--just as he surprised Mako by knowing and speaking Japanese to her, undermining her skepticism, enter a dialogue with the film that speaks in images. Open yourself to alternate ways of thinking and understanding."
Well said. Can't wait to see this one again at home.

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