Pacific Rim Uprising

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MPacific Rim Uprising

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight

Screenplay by: Emily Carmichael & Kira Snyder and

Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Story by: Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Based on the Characters Created by: Travis Beacham

Produced by: Guillermo del Toro, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni,

Cale Boyter, John Boyega, Femi Oguns

Executive Producer: Eric McLeod

Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona and Charlie Day. 

Pacific Rim Uprising is a visual immersive, escapist, global battle feast, packed full of 3D epic, mecha anime like, larger than Godzilla sized, Jaegar, super robots.

Piloted from within the skull of each Jaegar are a new generation of Jaegar pilots – who run like hamsters on a wheel, driving the Jaegars onwards to save our planet from even more gigantic, acid bleeding aliens, the monstrous ‘Kaiju.’

DeKnight may have had a focus group that picked out the best parts of action movies and married them together for Pacific Rim Uprising.

Armed with my 3D glasses and having never seen the prequel, I was captivated and transported.

The movie opens into a dystopian wasteland in Santa Monica – post-apocalyptic and peaceful – there is no Mad Max blood and guts here.

10 years after Pacific Rim, survival on the street in a post-apocalyptic world is for those with street smarts and Jake a once infamous soldier, our ambivalent hero, played by John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), chooses not to pay rent for the safety of a gated community but fend for himself in the ruins of a mansion on the outside.

Sure, his mansion comes with the gigantic carcass of a beast flattening his entire neighbourhood and he must steal Jaegar parts to supply an illegal Cyborg building trade: so long as he keeps away from the law or trading for what matters most-right-now, like handing over his luxury key cars for a bottle of tomato sauce.

When Jake is arrested for his criminal behaviour he is offered a lighter sentence, to man-up and resume his post at the Jaegar Academy, alongside Pilot Lambert(Scott Eastwood), he must train new Jaegar pilots to vanquish the Kaiju.

The characters are funny, likable and culturally diverse.

The Chinese characters are well drawn and the Mandarin spoken is substantial without feeling tokenistic.

DeKnight has drawn successfully upon influences from the 1986 movie Aliens, apparent in his settings, cast and monsters.

Aliens (1986) remains one of my top 10 movies of all time.

In the opening scenes, Jake uses a tracking device to locate illegal hardware – the tracking device has the same size, sound and movement sensitivity as that used in Aliens.

As Jake salvages, illegal Jaeger parts the spine like catacomb of machinery tunnels is reminiscent of the 1986 Alien nest.

An interior lift behind Liwen Shao(Jing Tian) at her headquarters is identical to the giant spinal cord of the 1986 Aliens.

The Kaiju bleed acid as do the aliens in Alien.

And of course, the name Newt, given here to Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) the name of the little girl, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) saves in Aliens.

Even Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) as the traditional obsessed scientist is not unlike the obsessed scientist Bishop of Aliens.

DeKnight transforms recognizable cityscapes into battlegrounds and engages a global audience. The Jaegar’s enormous size, unforgettable as they dwarf the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

As the skyscrapers of Tokyo are cleaved to shreds in a city-destroying battle scene, DeKnight magnifies the towering scale of his robots ensuring their hulk-like ground punches reverberate as a shadow presence throughout, making this a great movie experience.

Fist Fight

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 Rated: MA 15+Fist Fight

Director: Richie Keen

Producers: Shawn Levy, Max Greenfield, John Rickard, and Dan Cohen

Executive Producers: Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Samuel J. Brown, Dave Neustadter, Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Marty P. Ewing, Billy Rosenberg, and Bruce Berman

Screenplay: Van Robichaux & Evan Susser

Story by: Van Robichaux & Evan Susser and Max Greenfield

Starring: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert

The last day of high school, referred to as ‘Muck Up Day’ in Australia, but ‘Senior Prank Day’ in America, is the backdrop for the new comedy film ‘Fist Fight’ from director Richie Keen, whose first foray into feature films bears a strong resemblance to a bland television movie, with unflattering lighting, poor pacing and pedestrian scene set-ups.

Ice Cube (‘Straight Outta Compton’) plays the strict, by-the-rules history teacher Ron Strickland (get it?) and Charlie Day (‘Horrible Bosses’) is the younger, popularity-seeking, wimpy English teacher Andy Campbell. Following a major meltdown by Strickland during a class, Andy Campbell is forced into exposing his colleague’s behaviour in order to protect his own employment at the school, leading to Strickland being fired. Frankly, after watching Strickland’s appalling behaviour, I would not only have dismissed him, but also imprisoned him for attempted assault.

This wafer-thin premise sets up the rest of the film’s action, such as it is, which consists of Strickland’s irrational challenge to Campbell for an after school fist fight, and Campbell’s escalating panic and extreme counter measures to avoid being beaten up.

Charlie Day (from TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, also directed by Richie Keen), relied on high-pitched or whiny yelling in place of acting, which wore thin very quickly, while his sneaky way of avoiding trouble didn’t endear him either.

Ice Cube fared better, with his inscrutable, intimidating manner well suited to the role of an old fashioned teacher fighting a losing battle to educate his students and instil authority.

Ice Cube featured in one of only two scenes I found genuinely amusing, where students and staff at the school speculate about his past before he was a history teacher, and a montage shows him as possibly a solider in Iraq, a rogue ex-cop, an assassin, or even a world-class pianist. Nobody ever discovers the truth, which makes this the only touch of wry sophistication in the film.

For the most part this wasn’t a style of comedy that I find appealing, as it lacked wit or originality, relying instead on excessive swearing, juvenile sight gags and offensive language for its laughs. Director Richie Keen and the writers had apparently heard about the kind of pranks that are unleashed on long suffering teachers at American schools, including parking a car in the main hallway, or letting a drug-affected horse roam the school corridors (not funny), so included these in this film (although I did find the recurring Mariachi band was an amusing touch).

Tracy Morgan (‘30 Rock’) successfully plays a not very bright coach; Jillian Bell (’22 Jump Street’) was frankly unfunny bordering on repellent as a guidance councillor with drug and sex issues; while it’s a mystery why Christina Hendricks (‘Mad Men’) or Dennis Haysbert (‘24’) lowered themselves to be in this frat-boy outing.

According to interviews, the cast and crew had a lot of fun making this film, but little of that hilarity appears to have ended up on the screen.

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