William Gibson’s Review of Pacific Rim

William Gibson posted this review of Guillermo del Toro’s film Pacific Rim today:

A ravishing display of intelligent, often wonderfully witty visual design, every frame alive with coherent language, in the service of what is at heart a children’s story. A children’s story for a very dark time, our own, about a very dark time as children understand such things: monsters, from beneath the bed — our own or the ocean’s! It restores heroism to the realm of the humanistic, an extraordinary accomplishment given so much of the film culture of our day. The protagonists know, and demonstrate that they know, that it isn’t about them. A sweetly simple fable, for all the titanic grandeur of its cosplay (which I took to be the message of the slowly pumping wooden bellows in the kaiju-drifting machine, which became for me the sly sweet heart of it all). A demonstration of the degree of heart *and* physicality that even very big-ticket FX can convey when there’s an honest will to avoid the opposite; mega-scale FX that don’t drain either away. A baroque that doesn’t curdle, that never fetishizes itself.

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7 comments

  1. randomkhaos · July 20, 2013

    That review is as camp as the monsters AND the king has new clothes.

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  2. exitotter · July 20, 2013

    randomkhaos, just as I was beguiled with Gibson’s erudite and poetic means of expression; impressed at his choice of allusion and imagery, lost almost in a forest of words and ideas. You tell it how it is Buster!

    We need more of this.

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    • randomkhaos · July 20, 2013

      I was impressed by his poetic wax, also. But if you stare into meaningless long enough, you can find all kinds of signification. Like the little girl staring at white noise on the tv saying, ‘they’re here’. I am not a fan of hardware films because their special effects are far greater than the script writer’s imagination(s). Give me a good ole sit around the pool, drop acid, and write another episode of tv’s Star Trek any day. My catty remark about the monsters is that they look like backwoods matrons leaving Bertha Sue’s single wide beauty spa and hair salon after she mixed up a bad batch of meth. I was not privileged to relieve my boredom by paying attention to kids’ reactions to the movies because there weren’t any in the auditorium. They were all next door laughing their belly buttons off to gross humor. Out of choice. If I had known, I would have invited Lather along to watch a middle age kid make a fool of himself. As far as heroic mythology goes – prrrt! I am a fan of Silver Surfer and Joseph Campbell’s works, not some tacky rip off without any real moral to the story. I knew from the premise not to expect a story, but thought I could get some cheap thrills from the technical expertise of some great talent. How disappointing. I haven’t seen 3D fiction since the days of green and red lenses. The 3D was not overdone, but the Imex dome in Huntsville has more interesting 3D of collecting space garbage. And a more interesting story line and dialog. I didn’t get why the robots and control machinery was pre-computer 50’s space fiction. Never mind all the other non-sequiturs in the story line. It is a fantasy, after all, just not fantastic. And not very imaginative. Could have done better with a better story. Maybe they should have done a remake of Hardware Wars. Probably one of the greater examples of what happens to a movie after all the spin doctors and bureaucrats get through with the making of the film before it gets made. Want to head to Hollywood with some wooden stakes? And silver bullets. I know of a good bar where all the blood suckers hang out.

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    • randomkhaos · July 20, 2013

      I wish pieces of gold would grease my palms [mm] for writing like that. I sincerely hope he didn’t mean a word of it. Long distance/time retrospect: it was a tacky movie. What scared me the most was the fear that it would become a cult classic. Not to worry about that. No body’s going to show up in butch drag for this one. Maybe they’ll do a sequel and the studio will do a crash and burn. Nothing like throwing good money after bad to make a bigger bonfire. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

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      • exitotter · July 20, 2013

        Ref. Staring into meaningless long enough.
        As a matter of fact, this very morning upon the recommendation of The New Yorker, I read Nabokov’s short story Symbols and Signs.
        Do you know it?
        My but this Pacific Rim thing seems so old hat. Has it just come out on DVD?

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        • randomkhaos · July 20, 2013

          No, I had blissfully forgotten about it, but there was a new comment today, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to pass up another opportunity to stomp on the thing and the idea put forth that it is somehow mythical. About as mythical as an illustrated history of McDonald’s. They didn’t even dig very far in the script vault for a better formula movie.

          No, I have not read Nabakov’s short story, but I will look for it. I like his perspective on literature. I’ll also read the New Yorker article. There is also a ‘serious’ political piece in there, too, that I want to read. I try not to follow the ‘news’ since it is all doom and damnation, and my Scottish soul is dour enough, already, but I like the New Yorker’s detailed articles, usually about what a mess and high human cost our foreign policy is. I read a book about piracy during Jefferson’s administration, and our inability to deal with that, and it does not seem to have changed much since then. What is happening in the Semitic world is so unnecessary but it is far too late to correct course with that. ‘…and they stabbed it with their steely knives, but they could not kill the beast…’ I think people are tired of our interfering with their cultures so that we can teach them how to correctly wipe their butts.

          But, back to Pacific Rim, I couldn’t extract any mythology from it. I found a nicely bound copy of Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero With a Thousand Faces’, and am looking forward to re-reading it after all these years. At the moment, I am reading a Tibetan book on meditative techniques for calming the mind, so that I can read faster and retain more instead of tugging at the leash of my monkey mind chattering and leaping here and yon. I guess I could use a little tunnel vision. Throw in a little one-pointedness, too.

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  3. randomkhaos · July 20, 2013

    Does a Tyrannosaurus say ouch when you hit it on the toe with a drift mallet?

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