Bilge Ebiri from The Village Voice has written what I think is the most…original review of the new giant-robots-and-monsters movie Pacific Rim Uprising. Which is to say, it’s not technically a “review” at all—but more of like a fictional family anecdote + an epic critique of the entire genre of blockbuster “geek” movies through which the irrelevance and lack of originality of this sequel to the original 2013 film is highlighted.
The basic premise (of Ebiri’s review, not Pacific Rim Uprising) is that in the indeterminate future, the critic’s grown-up child—with his own 10-year-old son in tow—revisits the moldy old toys of his youth (circa 2010s) in a dank basement. The little boy picks up what turns out to be a broken Pacific Rim action figure and questions his father:
“What’s this?” he finally asks, yanking out an old robot, gray and silver and white, one arm missing. “A Transformer?”
I examine it, trying to remember. “No, I don’t think so. Transformers have faces. Besides” — I try twisting its legs, turning its arms and head — “it doesn’t transform into anything.”
With a quizzical look, he takes back the broken toy. “It’s from another movie,” I say, starting to remember. “Not an Iron Man, not a Voltron, and not a Chappie. It was the one where robots fought dinosaurs. Or, not dinosaurs, exactly. They were like Godzilla, only there were lots of them and they all looked different. And they weren’t called Godzilla.”
The father struggles to remember Pacific Rim Uprising, it having been so derivative of everything else; and everything else having been so derivative of everything else. His verdict? Despite that his father (Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri) fell asleep during one of the screenings for it, it wasn’t…bad.
It just wasn’t…memorable. Or distinct.
“Did you at least play with the toys?”
“I must have, if the arm broke off.” I wish I could remember what those damn robots were called. Some German name. “But I probably didn’t play for long, or I would have a better memory of it. I’m sure pretty soon I was just on to the next thing.” I look around the room. “I mean…” I wave at the boxes, sheepishly.
The boy seems to understand. He tosses the robot back into the pile, where it lands facedown in a sea of frozen, yearning little arms.
The current state of the majority of blockbuster franchise movies, circa 2018. Spawners of the drugstore bargain bin overstock DVDs and toys of the future.