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dir Guillermo del Toro
scr Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
prd Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Thomas Tull
with Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, Max Martini, Rob Kazinsky, Burn Gorman, Clifton Collins Jr, Diego Klattenhoff, Brad William Henke, Larry Joe Campbell
release US/UK 12.Jul.13
13/US Warner 2h11
The A-team: Kikuchi, Elba and Hunnam
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There's a nice throwback sensibility to this bombastic action thriller, which draws on the traditions of Japanese monster movies to tell its frankly ludicrous story. But the structure is badly flawed, eliminating any sense of suspense by sticking so closely to the formula that we're never in any doubt what will happen and who will survive.
After gigantic alien creatures called kaiju appear through a temporal rift in the ocean floor and start attacking cities, humanity scrambles to fight back, building massive robot fighters called jaegers to take them on. But the monsters learn how to stop the jaegers, and now military leader Pentecost (Elba) must come up with a new plan. But kaiju assaults are escalating, so Pentecost assembles his best jaeger pilots, including the haunted Becket (Hunnam) and father-son Aussie team Herc and Chuck (Martini and Kazinsky). Then top scientist Newt (Day) makes a startling discovery.
The film is a riot of noisy action and shouty dialog, with lots of over-serious melodrama trying desperately to crank up the emotional stakes. There's a spark of romance, as Becket banters with Pentecost's pilot-wannabe assistant (Kikuchi), and a bit of bromance as Newt tries to loosen his stiff-Brit sidekick (Gorman). There's also some comical relief when Perlman shows up as a black-market shark. At least all of the cast members are excellent at playing these one-dimensional characters.
Del Toro keeps the film looking almost painfully cool, which will thrill its target demographic of 10-year-old boys. Action scenes are digitally animated on a massive scale, looking essentially like unusually detailed anime cartoons. The Hong Kong setting offers a fresh backdrop. but the splashy mayhem takes place mostly in darkness, making it difficult to see what's happening. By the end we feel like we've had our heads in a helmet that was bashed with a stick for two hours.
A bit more tongue-in-cheek fun would have helped a lot, because the film continually reverts to corny parent-child sentimentality. Poor Elba gets the most thankless role in this sense, as he glowers and clenches his jaw manfully, carrying all of the emotional baggage in a film that doesn't need any. What it did need were more resonant characters and situations that have both logic and unpredictability.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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