I like the premise, but…..
 
            I like the premise, but “Pacific Rim” was just too much of watching robots and Leviathans bash each other, and even then, there was too much of the action that was blurry and cut-shot and steep-angled and staccato, so it was a lot of work trying to figure out exactly what was happening, and nobody goes to an action movie expecting to work hard.  An indie film in subtitles, maybe….
            The premise of “Pacific Rim” is that sometime in the near future, the alien invasion is going to be real…except that instead of coming from another planet, it’s going to come out of the tectonic fissure at the bottom of the ocean floor.  There’s apparently a race of warriors down there, and they have constructed an enormous creature as a kind of spy/scout, like Joshua scouting out the land of Canaan , with the full intention of coming back with an invasion force that would wipe everybody out and take over the territory.
            We above-water earthlings, having already banded together in common defense against the devastating Godzilla-like raptors, cooperate enough to build a gigantic robot in self-defense, that needs to be operated by two people in a sort of “mind-meld,” in order to effectively operate the robot.
            Now we have several interesting avenues of approach: examining the invading culture, detailing the land-based alliance, even spending more time on how the mind-meld works…and how it doesn’t.  But no, instead, we get a lot of footage of the tryout pilots training with hand-to-hand combat using broomsticks.  And then we get CGI creature vs. giant robot, in a strange fistfight/dance to the finish.  At least the “Star Wars” narrative about the struggling rebellion had the good sense to intersperse the human dynamics with the cosmic conflict. 
            Yes, “ Pacific Rim ” is slick and creative, in its limited way, but it also represents narrative opportunities lost, which limits its impact and effectiveness.
            I also like the premise of “Copperhead,” which is an entirely different kind of film.  No slick, futuristic CGI action/adventure here.  Just the opposite, in fact:  here’s a sleepy hamlet somewhere in upstate New York , while the Civil War was raging in 1862. They’ve sent some of the town’s boys off to war, marching to their impending doom with fife and drum and cheering townsfolk.  But those left behind don’t really agree about their level of support for the War in the first place.  Oh, they don’t cotton to slavery.  But the peaceniks (known as Copperheads) think it would be better to just let the Southern States go their own way rather than spill so much blood over forcing them to remain in a Union which they don’t want…..States rights from the other perspective.
            It might have been interesting to examine this political wrinkle, and its effect on Northern resolve.  But in this film we seem to be more interested in vigilantism, and the way that the community feud creates a Romeo and Juliet kind of subplot, where lovers from the feuding camps find no place to nurture their romance.
            It’s interesting to see a Civil War-era movie steadfastly refuse to show any battlefield action.  It all takes place somewhere offscreen.  We viewers, like the characters, are stuck in this one little town, doing what pious, God-fearing townfolk did in those days:  work on the family farms and blacksmith shops and hardware stores by day, read by lamplight at night, and go to church together every Sunday.  The hymn-singing here is fantastic; nothing short of rhapsodic.  But the acting, outside of the sanctuary, is somewhere between Hallmark Hall of Fame and the History Channel.  “Copperhead” is very slow-moving and stilted, and will have trouble attracting a wide audience, which is a creative opportunity lost.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas