Sunday, July 21, 2013

R.I.P.D., Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

The best double feature of my life came on the last day of my junior year of high school.
That afternoon, after my last final, I went to the AMC 14 in Century City and saw “Miracle Mile” followed by “Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills,” each of which I’ve watched dozens of times since. I’m hard-pressed to remember a worse double feature than the one I suffered through yesterday (at the AMC Century 15).

It began with the insipid sci-fi comedy “R.I.P.D.,” starring box-office jinx Ryan Reynolds and a paycheck-cashing Jeff Bridges as dead Boston cops assigned to protect their former city from monsters called “Deados,” deceased souls who continue to terrorize the law-abiding living. You’re Robert Schwentke, the director of this piece of shit. Despite having helmed “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” the single worst film of 2009, you have been given Bridges, an actor with an almost limitless reserve of audience goodwill. Why on Earth do you have him spend his screen time reading Reynolds the stupid, stupid rules of this alternate universe (which, in the end, the movie ends up breaking anyway)? And why do you dirty the screen up with computer graphics that look like they predate Bill and Ted? And where does Universal, the studio saddled with this already mythic bomb, find the temerity to release it in 3D when everything about it screams 1D? I nodded off several times during “R.I.P.D.,” and was grateful for the reprieve.
And yet, I would far sooner sit through “R.I.P.D.” again than any hour of Guillermo del Toro’s insanely loud, clangy, screechy, and brain-dead “Pacific Rim.” Some critics will pretend a pile of shit smells like roses when it’s produced by a favored filmmaker. You know that I will never lie to you, so let me be clear: “Pacific Rim” is a massive, steaming, noxious pile of shit. (And I liked “Pan’s Labyrinth” a lot.) The set-up couldn’t be any more simplistic: the Earth of a hundred years hence is threatened by giant monsters from its core called Kaiju. Our best line of defense (and a clunky and uninspired one it is) lies with gigantic robots called Jaegers piloted by pairs of mind-melding warriors (Jaegermeisters?). The movie is 131 minutes of soul-crushing, spirit-deadening fights between Kaiju and Jaegers, interrupted only by generic backstories involving rivalries between the pouty boy fighters and the special relationship between the one girl fighter and the black captain in charge of the Jaeger program. “Pacific Rim” is absolutely humorless, and its few attempts at human dialogue sound like they’ve gone through three translations. It is hard work to make it through this movie. Please, spare yourself.

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