Make no mistake, there is a lot riding on the success or failure of Guillermo Del Toro’s giant-monster epic “Pacific Rim” this weekend. Here, after all, is an original story in a summer of sequels, directed by one of filmdom’s most ambitious directors.
It also has spent the last few weeks trying to counter buzz that had it prematurely pegged as this summer’s “Battleship.”
Since then, Legendary Entertainment and its current (not for long) partner Warner Bros. have fought back. Reviews have started to surface, and they are mostly positive — Kanye West loved it. Has the tide turned? It is hard to say. The trailers have been rainy and dark, the cast is full of good actors who are not stars (Idris Elba, Ron Perlman), and Del Toro is nothing if not an idiosyncratic director, one who is capable of greatness (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and coasting (“Hellboy 2”).
My guess is that the film will open strongly, draw an interested first-weekend crowd, and then plateau, although the last several days have seen varying predictions. But I truly hope it is not considered a failure, because we need directors like Guillermo Del Toro swinging for the summer fences, dammit.
It will be especially galling if “Rim” is felled by “Grown Ups 2.” I have a friend who sincerely believes “Grown Ups” is the worst film ever made … and while I don’t think it’s quite THAT bad, it is one of the worst studio films of the last decade. “GU2” looks beyond awful, but in a summer of downright strange family entertainment (see heart-eating in “The Lone Ranger”), my guess is parents will see this as a film they can see with their 10 to 16 year olds. Whether or not they SHOULD is another story.
On the indie front, the Israeli drama “Fill the Void” opens at the Amherst Dipson after earning raves at TIFF and beyond. I reviewed the film for the Buffalo News and quite liked it (3 ½ stars). It is a complex look at Hasidic Orthodox culture, and certainly absorbing.
Two other notable indies are opening at the Amherst: “Unfinished Song” and “Dirt Wars.” The former is said to feature one of Terrence Stamp’s finest performances, this U.K. drama appears to be his meatiest part since Soderbergh’s “The Limey.” Perhaps the original General Zod will find himself in next year’s awards chatter. The latter, “Dirty Wars,” is an acclaimed documentary about overseas U.S. military action. It is also available On Demand.
The Screening Room brings back two of last weekend’s movies, with “Grease” at 7:15 p.m. and “Forbidden Plant” at 9:15 on July 12–13. Meanwhile, Fritz Lang’s C-3PO-influencing silent masterpiece “Metropolis” screens at 7:30 on July 16, and a poetry night is scheduled for the next night, July 17, at 7:30.
Bacchus screens this year’s Oscar-winner for Best Picture, “Argo,” on Thursday (July 17), while the UB North Campus has “42” on Friday (July 12), and the Tom Cruise sci-fi film “Oblivion on Tuesday (June 16), both at 9:15. The UB South Campus offers “Oblivion” at 9:15 on Wednesday (July 17).
Note that we are entering that weird mid-to-late summer timeframe, with some probable hits (“Wolverine”), some probable flops (“R.I.P.D.”), and some I don’t-know-whats (“The Smurfs 2”).
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures; Ethan Miller/Getty Images