Sabotage (2014)

sabotage_5Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Kevin Vance, Mark Schlegel, Ned Yousef

Directed by David Ayer

Expectations: Low, but it’s Arnold, so I have hope.

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Sabotage does a couple of things right that every current Arnold movie should do. It almost immediately sets up Arnold as a total badass, capable of feats that would crush a normal man with ease. It also acknowledges his age. Not through jokes like The Last Stand, but through the respect given to him by his team. Arnold also seems to wear his many experiences on his haggard face. Sabotage also manages to set up Arnold in a couple of great situations that allow him to remind us why an entire generation of children grew up adoring him. But in almost every other way, Sabotage falls short. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an OK movie that entertains well enough, but it’s the kind of thing that you can’t think about too much without it all falling apart.

Take for instance the first scene. Arnold and his team of special DEA operatives storm a drug lord’s house and find an insane amount of money piled up in the basement. For reasons we aren’t privy to just yet, the team is taking some money off the top and placing it in the drainage system under the toilet for pick-up at a later date. Then Arnold attaches a huge explosive to the rest of the money, shoots it, and the whole stash goes up in a big whoosh of fire. Doesn’t seem like a traditional DEA move, but I’ve never worked in federal law enforcement so what the hell do I know? Anyway, this is followed by Arnold’s team being questioned about the $10 million missing dollars from the drug money stash, because apparently there was a parallel operation that had exact figures on the money there. Am I just being dense, or did they not just set fire to the money? Am I really supposed to believe that they counted every charred scrap of paper and somehow determined that exactly $10 million was missing? What the fuck?

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Pacific Rim (2013)

pacificrim_1Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Diego Klattenhoff, Mana Ashida

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Expectations: Very high.

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Pacific Rim is the epitome of what the summer blockbuster film stands for, concerned only with being as awesome as it can possibly be. It may have the look and feel of an emotional story at times, but these moments are mere flourishes on the canvas of awesome. Consequently, the film can be quickly discredited by those that would prefer to cross their arms instead of raising them in a cheer — and they’re not wrong. Pacific Rim speaks directly to the 10-year-old inside you, warping you back to a time when the most pressing matter in your life was whether an awesome robot dude could beat up an awesome lizard dude. Director Guillermo del Toro is obviously a huge fan of that type of thinking, and he has delivered a grand, modern kaiju film for the ages.

Pacific Rim doesn’t waste a moment of your time, as roughly 30 seconds after it begins the first kaiju hits the screen. Concurrently, we learn of the genesis of the Jaeger program, or how nations put aside their differences to build massive, awesome robots to combat the kaiju scourge. But a few years into the Kaiju War, things aren’t so hot, and that’s where our tale begins. To tell any more would be to give away too much (not that there’s a lot to give away). Pacific Rim‘s strength is definitely not its storytelling, but its ability to consistently and thoroughly entertain.

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