Belated Movie Review: Pacific Rim

love this movie. I’m not quite sure I can explain why, except that it hit a chord with me, as I’m sure has happened to you with songs, books, movies, etc. Sometimes there’s no surprise, and sometimes you’re a little baffled that something hit you so strongly.

For those of you that are not big fans of science fiction, or action, or giant monsters or giant robots, you may not be so interested. This is one of the most genre of genre films I have seen. Matt Zoller Seitz at rogerebert.com gave it four stars. It is a tribute and homage to past films, and most specifically to Japanese “kaiju” movies.

Like most films I catch these days, I did not see this one in a theater, but oh how I wish I could have. This movie is about big things — big monsters, and big robots, called “jaegers” (YAY-gers). So I had to make do with my flat-screen TV, but that was okay. I had a huge grin on my face, I think, for most of it when I first saw it.

A synopsis of sorts, and there will likely be spoilers, but the film is from 2013, so I think if you haven’t seen it by now, you probably don’t care so much. In 2013, the first kaiju comes to Earth via “The Breach,” a fissure between two tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean. Because monsters must destroy recognizable landmarks, this first kaiju (Trespasser) destroys the Golden Gate Bridge, and a few more things down the CA coast. He is destroyed, but six months later, there is another. Then another in six more months. 

In one of those utopian movie moments, the world comes together to fight a common enemy, and to fight giants, we build giants — huge robots, piloted by a pair of people are mentally compatible so that when they “drift,” they can connect to both each other and the robot to operate it. This works incredibly well, and as the movie’s narrator, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) puts it, we got really good at winning.

Until things change, and Becket’s jaeger is destroyed in taking out a kaiju. His brother is killed in the process, and Raleigh refuses to “jockey” anymore.

But this is a genre movie with certain clichés and expectations, and director Guillermo del Toro and writer Travis Beacham do not disappoint. Raleigh is the burdened veteran pressed to return to service; Chuck Hansen is the hot-shot Australian pilot who’s unimpressed with Raleigh’s story; Stacker Pentecost (how can you not love that name), played by Idris Elba, is the strong commander who cares and does what he must to complete the mission; Mako Mori (Rinko Kukichi) is the young woman who wants to become a fighter after having been a victim, but is held back by Pentecost, her adoptive father, but out of love and not lack of confidence.

Yet all these characters, despite their expected existence, are individuals. You can relate to all of them to some degree, and the presence of a woman like Mako in this movie is fantastic. She is just there, and no one questions her right to be there, her intelligence, or anything else. She will rise or fall on her own merits, and that is so refreshing. There may or may not be something romantic between Mako and Raleigh (again, expected), but it is not the point. They have a job to do, and they want to do it, and that comes first. Mako is smart and resourceful; please give us more movies with characters like her, no matter the genre.

But really, let’s talk about the robots, right? Come on, you know you want to. They are so cool. Their names – Gipsy Danger, Crimson Typhoon, Striker Eureka — how great is that? And they are international. When the chips are down, the four jaegers left come from various countries that border the Pacific Ocean. Gipsy Danger from the US; Crimson Typhoon from China (with three arms and piloted by triplets!); Cherno Alpha from Russia (looking a bit like Gort from the original The Day the Earth Stood Still); and Striker Eureka from Australia. All are brought to Hong Kong, where they are housed in the Shatterdome. Is that not excellent?

There are, of course, many fights between the robots and the monsters, and I think credit is due to del Toro for not rushing things, or cutting every half a second, so that the viewer can follow the action. We know who hit whom, or what, and where they are, and what happened. When a jaeger goes down, your heart’s in your throat; you feel for the crew and you want a last-minute miracle. When a jaeger lands a blow on a kaiju, you’re relieved.

But the science, far-fetched perhaps, is not forgotten, and two scientists figure prominently in the story as well. Geiszler and Gottlieb are an odd couple — neat v. messy, formal v. informal, etc. — but they are smart men who realize that when the world is ending, you follow the most likely path to success or at least answers and you don’t worry so much about who’s supposed to be right or wrong. Without their work, the final plan devised by Pentecost would be doomed to failure, and Pentecost respects them enough to rethink the plan. 

Oh there’s more. There’s the tension between Chuck and Raleigh, between Mako and Pentecost, and a darkly humorous side brought in by Ron Perlman as a black-market dealer in kaiju remains. The terrific final battle, underwater, and the ensuing human victory.

I like that despite all of the fighting and impending apocalypse, there is hope in this movie. I recently discovered that I’ve had my fill, for a while, of anti-heroes and people trying to get by after a civilization meltdown, be it The Walking Dead or HBO’s The Leftovers. Pacific Rim gives me action, and some sorrow, but an underlying hopeful note, and these days, you can’t have too many of those.

P.S. If you see or have seen the movie, check out the film’s Wiki for back story, kaiju names, etc. It’s great fun.

 

Update

I wanted to let you know that E.F. Turner’s stolen stories have been removed. She still does have a couple of stories up on Amazon, but they appear to be her own work, and that’s fine. I only wanted her to stop trying to pass off others’ work as her own.

She has a blog at blogspot.com (I won’t link; might be small of me, but don’t want to even have that connection), and the most recent entry does not address this, not that I thought she would. 

Thanks to everyone who shared and supported, and if you were one of the ones she stole from, I hope there’s some relief that this incident appears to be over.

 

Plagiarism

I don’t and won’t often do this, but I’m going to call out an author.

E.F. Turner has stolen from authors. I know of many, including myself, who post at Literotica. For an example, in her “Erotica Collection #9,” she has plagiarized my entire story, Island Encounter, only changing the name of the lead character from John to Justin.

My story, Island Encounter, was posted on Literotica and StoriesOnline.net in November 2010, as you can see on my submissions page. Her book was published in May of 2014, and it was hardly the only one stolen from authors. Please spread the word; if you recognize a story, please leave me a comment or if you can contact the author, do so. Most stories seem to be in the BDSM and Incest and Non-Consent categories.

I realize it’s a risk you take on the internet, posting things for free, but I’m not going to let someone take advantage of me if I can help it.

This is her Facebook page; if you can post proof of stolen stories, please do. She’s also on Goodreads. I’m not asking anyone — in fact, I explicitly ask that you don’t — to bully or otherwise harass her. Pointing out the stolen stories is enough.

Story reveal

So, the FAWC (Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge) is over for now, and my story was called Empires of the Stars.

This is a different story than I’ve written before, and likely not what you’re expecting. So all I ask is that you read with an open mind, and I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment here or on the story page. Thanks!

Guess that story again

Over at Literotica, we’ve done another FAWC, a Friendly Anonymous Writing Competition. This time, we all had to begin with the same sentence:

Upon the table lay three times: a handkerchief, a book and a knife.

From there, we could go anywhere, and judging by the entries, that’s a good description. If you get a chance, stop by the submissions page, read some stories, and leave some comments.

And try to guess which one is mine. :)

I am a woman, but …

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the #yesallwomen hashtag over at Twitter, and some of the good, bad, and sad things that have been tweeted on it. I’ve looked myself and as I often do with such things, I find I have mixed feelings about it.

I think it’s clear that for some reason, Elliot Rodgers, the man who stabbed and shot six people and then killed himself, was not right in the head. It is also clear, from Rodgers’ own written and video manifestos, that he blamed all of his anger on women. (I’m not linking to these because you’ve probably seen them, the links are easily found elsewhere, and quite frankly, I don’t want to see or read them myself. Reading about it is bad enough.)

Rodgers said, in no uncertain terms, that he felt women owed him love, sex, and adoration, and he’d had it up to here that they weren’t fulfilling their end of his self-perceived bargain. And it wasn’t just women, because he was clearly just as pissed as the men who were getting the girls that Rodgers thought he should be getting. Hence, he killed men, too.

It’s good that this is generating discussion, although I’m of the pessimistic thought that the discussion will pretty much just circle around and not get anywhere.

Anyway, one of the things about #yesallwomen that makes me feel odd is that, well, so many of the things other women have said have not happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for trouble — I am exceedingly glad I have not had to deal with the shit they have, and I am sorry that they have. The funny thing is, though, that when you see all these things coupled with “#yesallwomen,” there’s a feeling akin to guilt when I think, “Well, not this woman.”

Like I said, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve experienced very little outright sexual/gender discrimination that I know of. The only thing that really stands out is that when I was in high school and wanted to join the A/V club, I was told by the vice principal that girls couldn’t do that. I didn’t question it at the time; I went to a Catholic school and the VP was a priest. Like baseball players do not argue with the ump, I did not argue with him. Thinking about it now, I would guess the reasoning was that the A/V club was all-male, and having a girl there could lead to potential problems.

Now, why they wouldn’t, say, have a teacher or two there to make sure everything was okay, I don’t know. It was stupid at the time, but I had other things to do, and so I dismissed it and went on to those other things. I wasn’t going to sue over it or anything like that. I would also guess that now that is not the case, but it was in the mid/late 1980s.

But when I read #yesallwomen, I see the statements of reporting sexual harassment, or assault, and not being believed. Of carrying keys through your fingers as a makeshift weapon when walking alone (I’ve done this). Of having to tell a strange guy you have a boyfriend, even if you don’t, because it’s the best way to make him go away. Or worse, of being assaulted by friends or family, and not believed by same.

That has not happened to me (again, thankfully). I saw a tweet that said, roughly, ask any woman you know if she’s been sexually assaulted/molested/harassed and she’ll say yes. The first reply was from a guy who said he’d asked his mom and sister, who had both replied in the negative.

And perhaps that’s the problem. I will agree that women are aware and conscious of personal security in a way that most men are not — because they don’t have to be. I had a roommate for a couple of years, a guy who had just come out as gay not long before moving down my way. This was a big thing for him, coming from a smaller, conservative town. One night he was going out and I asked what I thought was a fairly innocuous question, was he intending on coming back that night. He got mad.

To be fair, he wasn’t belittling my concerns. What he was mad about was that he essentially had to consider someone else’s POV, and he was in a phase of basically not wanting to be answerable to anyone for what he was doing. I pointed out that I didn’t care if he came back that night, aside from wanting him to be safe, I just wanted to know if I could put the chain lock on. If I’d been a guy, I doubt I would have thought about it. But I’m not a guy, and I did.

So it’s weird when I read the tweets, because although I sympathize and empathize and agree as best I can, it’s not my experience. Some of it is because, for example, I don’t and didn’t to places like bars, which seems like a place where a lot of unwanted advances happen. To a great extent, I’ve probably taken myself of risky situations, but not to avoid the risk. I’m just not a bar person, but the result is the same.

And again, let me be clear — a woman should be able to go to a bar, or a restaurant, alone or with a friend, and be left alone. No means “no,” not “make an offer” or “I’ll change my mind if you keep talking.” People, men and women, need to learn to respect a person’s “No.”

I do think attitudes need to change, and that will be hard. I’d like to see an end to things like “You throw like a girl” and other statements where a man is insulted by calling him a woman. It’d be nice if groups of men — teams, etc. — would stop saying things like, “Okay, ladies, let’s…” They aren’t ladies and there’s an implied disrespect thee. So stop it.

I’d like to see people of both genders stop saying (as I read on all #yesallwomen) “Why didn’t she leave?” when finding out about an abusive relationship and start asking, “Why didn’t he stop hitting her?” and “What made him think he had the right?” People need to help and protect themselves, but that’s often easier said than done, and blame and responsibility need to be placed on the person perpetrating the violence and not the one who was victimized.

And that should happen when it’s #allmen, too.

 

New story

Now that the challenge is over, I can tell you I have a new story up. :) It’s called Keeping Secrets and was part of an unofficial challenge over at Literotica. The challenge this time was to select a song and write a story inspired by said song. My choice was “Written in Rock,” by Rick Springfield.

Excerpt:

 The day dragged on, interrupted by a quick lunch and some afternoon meetings. He checked his phone after the last meeting and was surprised to see a text from Sylvia. Meeting with some coworkers, won’t be too late. Leftovers in the fridge. Love you.

He frowned at the words on the screen, debating his reply. At a loss, he just responded with a quick thanks and love you, too.

It ate at him on the way home. Did this have to do with her phone conversation? Was she meeting someone and, God forbid, hiding it from him?

“Jesus, man. Paranoid much?” He got out of the car, annoyed with himself. He had no reason to think anything like that. If Sylvia had any secrets, it probably involved cheating on a test in high school, or maybe spilling a drink on her prom dress.

In the apartment, he changed and dug out the leftovers. He flipped on the TV as they warmed in the microwave, then ate as he watched sports highlights and waited for Sylvia.

I hope you enjoy it, and here’s the direct link.

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