Pacific Rim Deserves Success

Readers, I am going to shamelessly ask you a favor. I implore you, go see Pacific Rim. Here’s why. Not enough? Here’s another reason. If you end up loving it, go again or buy a ticket for a friend. Give it some love. I’m going to be at the theater as soon as possible to show some support. I haven’t even seen it. But I know I’m already going to love it.

Two reasons why: It has giant monsters and equally huge robots — things I’m obviously programmed to love — and it’s being put down before it’s even given a chance to succeed. Here’s the sad part.

Hollywood reporters should hang their heads in shame for predicting terrible opening weekends for big adventure films that aren’t part of a series that’s already lucrative (e.g. The Avengers or Star Trek, which are excellent movies in their own right). That same useless prediction was a self-fulfilling prophecy for John Carter, and I pray it won’t happen again with Pacific Rim.

How could you not love this? Picture courtesy of SlashFilm

How could you not love this? Picture courtesy of SlashFilm

Yes, I’m telling Variety to shut up. Why put the emphasis on the pile of cash from a movie’s first days in the public square? Isn’t the story it tells more important? What of the sense of joy and thrills Hollywood used to get from adventure movies? What happened to enthusiasm?

It seems everything’s more about money and picking something apart, today. We can’t just enjoy a movie anymore. Even when films end up being great, my Facebook feed clogs up with nitpicks and negative opinions that drag the whole mood down. Before I realize what’s happening, I’m paying more attention to a movie’s flaws than I do to its strengths.

Can we please try celebrating a good film more than we criticize it, or at least try to not cut its legs out from under it before opening night? We ought to encourage more movie-makers to go big and take risks. And don’t you want to watch movies made by people who care, instead of cynical marketing teams? That is where the classics come from. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings could have failed big, but found the support of people who believed in them. Those people are rare in Hollywood. And it shows.

Encourage filmmakers to love what they do, and make new classics. Pacific Rim could sure use some encouragement.

Thanks for your time.

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“John Carter” Review, Part 1

Many people love to gripe, bemoan, scoff, whine, and otherwise complain about the state of Hollywood. And they have good reason. Superfluous reboots and unneeded sequels give the movie industry the vibe of a broken record, special effects and marketing campaigns repeatedly supplant great storytelling, and audiences are increasingly jaded and cynical.

Then there is the rare film that obliterates your pessimism. A diamond among the veins of common rock. A film that effortlessly draws you in and shows that all is not lost, a film that “gets it right” — you feel that the movie lived up to its full potential and deserves to be treasured. You sense that it will be a part of you until the day you die.

As far as I’m concerned, John Carter has accomplished that. I cannot remember the last time a movie captured my imagination so completely, or tugged so hard on my emotions, or left me with such an overpowering sense of triumph and optimism. True, it wasn’t very successful when it came out earlier this year. But neither were Firefly and Serenity. That Disney bungled the marketing and critics sneered at “another silly adventure film” shouldn’t matter. This film deserves to be given a chance.

You might know the story by now, but just in case: the movie is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars novels, works of pulp science fiction that have ignited the imaginations of just about everyone from Steven Spielberg and Frank Frazetta to Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan. The film revolves around a Civil War veteran who avoids human contact and prospects for gold, to try and forget a heartbreaking tragedy in his past. When he encounters an otherworldly being inside a cave, he is accidentally transported to the planet Mars, finding other humans, tall aliens, and all manner of high-stakes adventures.

This is not only the Mars of Burroughs, but of Percival Lowell and H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury, the romanticized Mars everyone wishes we discovered in the space age, with elegant civilizations that cling to life on a dying planet. John Carter arrives as a fish out of water who becomes a hero to these people, in the process regaining his humanity and a cause to fight for.

When I finally got a chance to watch this film, I knew that it was something special. This isn’t just two hours of entertainment; it’s a blessing. Unpretentious, charming, full of genuine thrills and sympathetic characters, and timeless in the best way possible. Only Jurassic Park and The Lord of the Rings have had a similar effect on me. Having only read partway through Burroughs’s first novel (A Princess of Mars), I can’t yet say how it stacks up against the source material, but this is one movie I know will stick with me for the rest of my life.