One word: AWESOME.
General and Epilepsy:
Guillermo Del Toro has done it. This was not really a character movie. The acting could have been better. This was a movie that proved you could make a Giant Robot genre film and KICK ASS with it. Now. Gundam, please. And Voltron. And maybe a bigger, better Godzilla.
It makes Avatar look like it was made for a bunch of wimpy bitches. (But don’t really listen to me on that. Doesn’t take much. I really don’t like that movie. Yes I realize it wasn’t a giant robot movie. LEAVE ME ALONE! …)
As far as epilepsy goes, no real problem at all. The Gipsy Danger (the primary robot) fires a Plasma Cannon, so you have the blue white light. But as a plasma it flows more than it flickers, so it posed no threat. The Kaiju (giant monster extra-dimensional aliens) have mouths and tongues and blood and some organs and skin that glow the same blue white. But like the cannon, it is more glowing spots and fluid than flashing light. I had no problem with it and I often react to that.
Technical and Actors
Needless to say, it wasn’t this:
The visuals were amazing. Absolutely totally and completely amazing. It had realism. I saw it in 3D, and even though I’m not the biggest 3D fan ever I am SO glad I caught this one. Because woah. The fight scenes were epic. I’m probably nerding out on this a lot, probably there are lots of problems with this. Probably people will look at it and see a grittier KBB, but to me it looked like Giant Monster Robot heaven. To me it looked like a future with MechaGodzilla. There was a flying Kaiju. It was awesome. MOTHRA! That was my first thought.
The acting was … okay. Nothing extraordinary there. The whole “Today we are canceling the apocalypse” line both in dialogue and delivery felt WAY to Independence Day. Even the way he was changing his voice felt like he was just altering it so that he didn’t sound too much like the ID speech. Same thing with all of our actors.
I think the best might have been Ron Perlman, and how sad is that?!?! (This is not true.)
Rinko Kikuchi, who played Mako (our Token Female) did a good job, but they didn’t let her talk all that much. I’m putting it down to her English probably not being spot on, but it was still slightly annoying. She had great potential, and is part of arguably the most moving moment in the entire film. (The Australian father and son would be responsible for the contender.)
Essentially, an alien species decides to invade our planet. A rift is formed in the ocean, and giant monsters come through it with increasing frequency. The first place they hit is San Francisco, where they learn modern military tech isn’t enough to bring it down.
So they make mechas. The first is apparently built in 14 months. But they find out that neural control of the robots takes too much out of a single pilot, it has deadly results. So they divide the system into two parts, left and right, and use two pilots. They have to be connected mentally, they have to have a compatibility, which explains why many of the pairs are related in one way or another.
After a while, as the Kaiju are growing in size, skill, and number, the government(s) decide(s) to shut down the program since Jaeger are failing all over the place. Instead they favor a giant wall surrounding coasts that touch the Pacific Ocean.
This doesn’t work. Uh, spoiler?
There are 4 primary Jaegers (mechas) by the time we get to the meat of the film.
The Russians have one, Cherno Alpha, piloted by (I believe) a brother and sister (I think that’s what I heard).
The Chinese have one, Crimson Typhoon, piloted by triplets, thus having one extra arm.
The Australians have one, Striker Eureka, piloted by a father and son (the son is doucheweevel).
And the Americans have one, the Gipsy Danger. It was originally piloted by two brothers, but was decommissioned. At the end of the war between Kaiju and earth, it is put back into service, with our lead in first chair and our (pretty damn awesome) Token Female in second.
(There are tons of these things, TONS. Google photos, lots of countries have one. It’s just not a lot of them make it to the final battles. EDT: Or you could just go to Rotten Tomatoes; they’re all there. Also: You can make your own.)
From then on out it’s fight fight fight, with some downtime for Science (aliens and robots, of COURSE there is science), jokes about Chinese folk remedies (yeah, like I’ve never heard of such-and-such powder increasing my … male … manhood before), and family drama.
But isn’t the fight fight fight what you’re watching for? Why else would you see this movie? The fight fight fight is fantastic.
Interesting to note:
There’s a sword. THERE. IS. A. SWORD.
There’s a large mix of races and nationalities (though not genders… this was a bit of a dick-fest … with some “facehugger” style bad-dudes… Guillermo might be telling us something with this, but I’m no shrink). Think Gundam Wing, or Ronin Warrior, or Voltron where you have a group of people (I’m really looking at Wing here) from all different cultures, different countries, different religions coming together. We still had a white-guy action star. But riding second was a Japanese woman. And calling the shots was a black Brit. All backed up by Russians and Australians and Chinese pilots and workers. And those were just the ones in the foreground. It hardly represents EVERYONE, but to me it feels like it’s reaching somewhere that I can appreciate. Which makes me happy.
Please go see it. I want this movie to make its budget back and more. I want this genre to take over the world. I want more Japanese pop-culture to cross into the mainstream! And I DON’T want a white dude playing Kaneda in Akira!!!