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
, 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
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.
” 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
, 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,