We love animation, but there are a lot of other movies out there. Now Playing features brief mostly spoiler free critiques of non-animated films currently in theatres that you can feel safe reading before heading out to the theatre.

Pacific Rim

pacificrim_main_posterUp front I’m going to say I’m probably not the target audience for Pacific Rim. I was never into the monster movies, and this film feels like someone’s modern day love letter to the genre. However, even with that disclaimer, I can safely say this was not a good movie.

I saw the film in the best possible venue — one of Regal Cinemas’ RPX theatres. They feature high back leather seats, a massive screen, super bright projectors, and the new Dolby Atmos sound system. The experience was well worth the extra money as the picture quality, 3D, and sound were the best I’ve ever seen and heard.

The film itself was more of a ridiculous spectacle. Awing visuals and impressive setpieces abound, but everything else about the movie was sacrificed it seemed in service to them. The lead actors in the film were just terrible. Really some of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a major studio blockbuster. The lead actress showed absolutely no emotion throughout the entire film. I was almost waiting for the reveal that she too was a robot. The sidekicks were not much better and were annoying written to boot. The dialogue between characters was embarrassingly bad, but luckily some of the accents were so thick it made it blessedly hard to even understand. Story-wise things were just as muddled. It felt like the screenwriters said “The audience is just here for giant robots fighting giant aliens so we can just phone in the bits between”.

What makes all these shortcomings so tragic is that the film is technically beautiful. Yes, the giant robots fighting giant alien scenes are so impressive. The visual effects are awesome. The 3D is so good as to be compulsory. The Dolby Atmos sound I heard was literally breathtaking. The first ten minutes of this film should be the reference material for showing off a fully loaded theatre. But the film fails so spectacularly at the most basic part of filmmaking — putting an actor on the screen and putting words in his mouth.

If this genre is your thing, definitely go see this movie, especially if you have a really good theatre nearby. Otherwise, don’t waste your time or money.

July 12, 2013
131 mins / rated PG-13
directed by Guillermo del Toro

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman is back playing Marvel superhero Wolverine, a role he has defined as his own maybe more than any other comic book character ever on screen (though Robert Downey Jr. is now giving him a run for that title). In this outing things take a more mundane turn as the baddies are mostly gun and sword wielding mobsters and ninjas rather than mutants. While it’s an interesting take, the more down to earth villains combined with the loss of Wolverine’s regenerative abilities make this sequel feel a lot less X-Men and more like James Bond with claws. Still fun though if you don’t mind a tamer beast.

July 26, 2013 / 126 mins / PG-13 / directed by James Mangold / Fun Factor: 7 / Overall Film: 5


R.I.P.D. has some action and some laughs but completely skips over the heart that could have made this… OK, just slightly better! But the missing piece is noticeable for its absence. Forget that, ignore the crazy plot, and don’t mention Kevin Bacon’s acting here and you might have a pretty good time. Jeff Bridges completely steals the movie from a lackluster Ryan Reynolds, and he alone is worth the price of admission.

July 19, 2013 / 96 mins / PG-13 / directed by Robert Schwentke / Fun Factor: 5 / Overall Film: 3