Monthly Archives: September 2013

In belated praise of Pacific Rim

Because all I said about it at the time was, I really liked it.  And I did!  I think it’s a splendid adventure, and it brought me right back to being a tween in the early 80s watching Voltron and Robotech.  Mecha, and the people who love it.

But there’s more to say about the movie, and why I liked it, and why I have a bit of a fangirl squee over the character of Mako Mori, who has the most sensible name in the entire film.  Stacker Pentecost?  Really?  Idris Elba is magnificent at enunciating ludicrous dialogue so well that I wanted to get up and do fist-pumping cheers, and Charlie Hunnam did a fine job as the tormented beefcake, but it was Rinko Kikuchi’s movie.  And robots.

Spoilers, of course.

I’ll just point this out, for starters:  when the camera lingers on a physique, it’s Hunnam’s.  That alone changes things up.  Mako Mori the character is allowed to be girlish, fierce, stunted, efficient, noble, rebellious, and honorable.  No, in the end, she is not the one to push the button and blow up the other dimension.  She, the far less experienced pilot, passes out from oxygen deprivation, and Beckett saves the day.  That said, this was one situation in which I thought that was fine.  They were partners. He finished what they started.  He could have done none of it without her.

But let me back up.  She’s allowed to be flawed.  She’s allowed to choose her adoptive dad over the handsome dude, even if dad doesn’t hold out long with the sternness.  She’s allowed to be fit and attractive without that being her character’s point.  The character’s arc matches the plot’s high stakes.

As for the movie itself:  holy cats.  I’ve said several times that it’s a WWII movie wrapped up in modern trappings.  You have a diverse group of people on an isolated base racing against time and dealing with interpersonal issues on the way.  The jaegers have nose art and mechanics and an air traffic controller.  There’s even a DOG, for gosh’s sake.  People have to put aside their differences and work together to defeat the enemy.  There’s a stirring (ludicrous?  Yes.  But Elbafied) speech by a leader.

And the visuals!  In one interview, director Guillermo del Toro talked about how the really difficult bit of the whole movie was actually inventing the jaegers.  To make them seem real, his team had to figure out how they would work, how the hydraulics would look, how the legs would support the rest, and so on.  And you see it in the film, how pistons move and hatches slide.  The jaegers have a gravity to them that many effects pictures are sorely lacking.

It’s not a perfect movie, nooo.  What I want is the director’s cut with the hour of character development footage del Toro had to excise.  I want to know more about the Chinese and Russian teams before they meet their demise.  And I want to know more about Beckett and Mori and Pentecost (really?).  But for a movie in which robots punch dinosaurs in the face (not that that’s ever a bad thing), it manages to have grit, heart, fun, and lead characters who saw each other as people and pilots first.  Well done!

In praise of Natalie Dormer

After watching the trailer for Rush about five times in a row, I have a new term for Natalie Dormer.  She’s a chaos hottie.

Seriously.  Her character kisses Captain America without being Peggy Carter.  Her character topples Catherine of Aragon.  Her character snuggles up to Joffrey.  Joffrey.  You think he linked death-by-crossbow with sexy before she was all ‘ooh show me how‘ at him?

And in Rush, she’s a nurse who falls under James Hunt/Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless spell in about three nanoseconds.  David Bowie starts up on the soundtrack.  She pulls the curtain shut around the examination area.  It’s a busy medical center, but she’s Natalie Dormer.  The chaos hottie.

I really look forward to her showing up in things by now.  Her characters will purr at someone, they’ll say something ridiculous in the most innocent of voices (“Shall I fetch my brother?”), and something chaotic will happen.  Awesome.

Worldcon Lesson the Third

Well, not so much lesson as observations:

  • The first day (Thursday), everyone looked just like me:  plump, 40+, white.  That lessened slightly over the weekend, and I was glad to see a gender balance after so many gaming cons of being one of like three women in the room.  Of course not everyone was plump, but …yeah.  The overwhelming whiteness never lessened.
  • Speaking of whiteness:  in one panel, a panelist stated that he couldn’t handle a media project at all because it featured an African-American character in a historically incongruous setting.  In that same panel, we mentioned zeppelins, Frankenstein, future neo-Victorianism and motorcycles that ride between stars.  Seriously, the PoC as an authority figure is what’s going to break your suspension of disbelief?  Good god.  I halfway raised my hand to ask the panelist to clarify, but then put it down again – I was surprised, and then embarrassed that no one else seemed freaked, and I missed out on a chance to be a good ally.  Shame on me.
  • There was still a point on Saturday afternoon in which I burst into tears and said I didn’t want to go home.  My husband smiled at me indulgently; I guess finding a con ‘tribe’ brings that out in a person, that revelation?  But – and this is awful, but trufax – it wasn’t about the people.  I’m shy as hell; I didn’t actually speak with many people, let alone new ones.  It was about an atmosphere of creativity.  At one point I sat in a panel with about three hundred other people who want to write.  Eager, up-turned faces, all with a story they want to tell.  That sense of …gosh, creative acceptance, made me want to give up our fast-paced Bay area lives and get a little house back in Austin and fill it with cats and books and …yeah.  Live the dream.  Someday.

Worldcon Lesson the Second

There is room for me in the world of writers and creators, but I have to write and create to earn my space. Angsting and planning about writing means nothing, compared to actual work.

Also, what a difference in settings.  This morning’s sky in California was a crisp, saturated blue, sharp-edged and almost painful to my tired eyes.  Texas has a sort of faded-jeans look.  Hazy, drifty, big.  Polaroid, to San Francisco’s digital.  I miss Polaroid.