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I guess I just like liking things

Why would anybody in the future watch any sport other than giant robots vs. monsters?

Why would anybody in the future watch any sport other than giant robots vs. monsters?

I saw Pacific Rim last night with two friends. Two of us liked it a lot and the third guy doesn’t go to many movies. While I had some minor issues with little pieces here and there, I don’t understand how you wouldn’t enjoy a movie described thusly on IMDb:

As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

The only reason I can see is because when you were a kid you made this exact movie in your head while playing with your toys, only the giant robot was Optimus Prime and the monster was your dog or a stuffed rabbit.

Literally two minutes into the movie, I’m struck with how signed on I am to this concept. Like, if a giant mech had showed up in The Dark Knight Rises, I would have grimaced and shook my head and been all “Ugh, what in the world.”  I mean, don’t get me wrong, if that mech had a Bat-logo on it and some backstory about how Bruce Wayne made it for something-or-other, I would have eventually been able to come around on the concept, I’m sure. But initially?  Too much cognitive dissonance.

Here, though, I am all about the giant mechs because that’s the world laid out for me. It’s not about if a concept is crazy in the world I inhabit, it’s if the concept is crazy for the world the movie takes place in. In this particular movie giant mechs make sense, because when giant monsters start showing up what else are you gonna do?

And, really, this is the same leap pretty much any movie makes, right? If we don’t accept the premise we won’t accept the story. Scoffing “It’s not realistic” is the most ridiculous criticism of a movie ever, in my opinion. “There are no lightsabers, that would never work” is a useless phrase, because in the universe of Star Wars, lightsabers do exist and do work. It’s when the movie disagrees with its own created world that I really start to have problems.

Consider Superman. He’s invulnerable, super fast, yada yada yada. We know what Superman is because he’s got years of backstory and is part of the culture. So most of us can accept that a bullet to his eye isn’t going to do anything. But in Superman II where he pulls his insignia off his chest and it envelops a bad guy and he erases Lois Lane’s memory by kissing her [spoiler alert, I guess, for a 33-year-old movie], we shake out heads and scoff because it doesn’t fit with the created world. This is why fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are so nervous about what Michael Bay is going to do in the movie he’s working on. If they carry guns or have laser eyes or are aliens, we’re going to have some problems with that.  If you can do whatever you want with a particular universe, why have different universes at all?

This buy-in to a premise is what can make crossovers work so well. Please note my use of can, since they don’t necessarily. Inserting zombies into Jane Austen novels can work with the right setup. So can Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires. How different is that from accepting a guy who can kill people in their dreams?  Or a mob boss using hundreds of snakes to assassinate a guy on a plane? Or even a girl falling in love with a guy she met when in some cuh-razy way? It’s all giant mechs fighting monsters.

I’ve long said that if I have any super power at all, it’s an over-developed ability to suspend my disbelief.

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