August 22, 2013

Karin Kross Defends Pacific Rim

I took my three little boys to see Pacific Rim when it was out. Giant robot dudes versus godzilla-monsters? Heck, yeah. They loved it. They had their transformers fighting their godzillas for a whole week afterward. (Later I think Angry Birds were involved as well. And Rainbow Puppy. They are eclectic.)

In a piece for Tor, Karin Kross asks why people feel compelled to insult movies they like:

There’s a kind of meme going around right now with regard to Pacific Rim that really gets up my nose: that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie.” As in, a friend recently asked on Facebook if anyone had seen it, and amongst the responses was a comment along the lines of, “It was a dumb movie, but I really liked it.”

…Respectfully, I would like to disagree. Or at least, insist that we stop using the word dumb. Simple? Sure. Uncomplicated? Absolutely. Spectacular, in the truest sense of the word? Hell yes. But none of these things are dumb…

When people say that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie,” what exactly do they mean? Is it code for “I liked a movie about mechas fighting monsters, but I’m kind of embarrassed about it, so I’ll say it’s dumb to prove that I’m smart”? Is it a reaction to the fact that the plot wasn’t some convoluted mess that you had to “figure out” á la Inception or the later Matrix movies? Is it discomfort with the absence of an Important Life Lesson neatly spelled out over the closing credits? Is it just that it wasn’t dark enough? It’s probably one or more of all of the above.

…As thrilling as the kaiju fights are, the greatest pleasures of Pacific Rim are, dare I say, simple, old-fashioned, and humane. A lot of people don’t seem to know how to deal with this anymore, or accept it without irony.

Read the whole thing.

I like how she phrases it, “Simple doesn’t mean dumb.” After I came home from the movie, I wondered why I find it so hard to write a story that is simple enough to be made into a movie. I tend to pile on characters, and points of view, and storylines and timelines, and complications, until the whole thing is a tangle. That can be its own kind of pleasure, granted, but I think that to write something simple–but not dumb–is not at all as easy as it seems.


Tara Maya