Pacific Rim

  Release date: July, 2013. While Pacific Rim is an American movie (by Legendary Pictures) and it was distributed by the Warner Bros Pictures, it was also created by a diverse team of filmmakers; most of the movie’s scenes take place in South Asia and while the movie was not a major success in the US, it performed well abroad, especially in China.

  In a short introduction in the beginning of the movie it is explained that in 2013 an interdimensional portal opened up under the Pacific Ocean. Through this breach a giant monster, a Kaiju emerged, which destroyed the city of San Francisco and the surrounding areas and killed thousands of people before being hunted down itself. The attacks later continued and several other Kaiju came through the portal, and approached cities all around the breach, in the Americas, Japan, Australia, China, Russia and the Pacific Islands. The arriving monsters were bigger and stronger every time and their appearances were getting more frequent. The most affected nations began to build enormous robotic war machines, called Jaegers. Jaegers were operated by two-two pilots, that were linked together and to the machine with a neural link. The Jaeger program proved to be successful against the Kaiju threat.

  The story begins in 2020 in Alaska, when a new monster emerges from the Breach. American Jaeger pilots Raleigh and Yancy Becket seem to be victorious over the Kaiju, but then the monster manages to fight back and kill Yancy. Raleigh destroys the monster and pilots the damaged Jaeger “Gipsy Danger” back to the shore.

  Five years later the Jaeger program gets shut down, deemed too expensive and ineffective. Humanity appears to be losing the war and the anti-Kaiju walls fail. Commander Stacker Pentecost finds Raleigh Becket on a construction site in Alaska, and convinces him to join his small army of remaining Jaegers and their crew in Hong Kong. In the Hong Kong Shatterdome Raleigh gets introduced to his fellow soldiers, the Russian couple that operates the tank-like “Cherno Alpha”, the Chinese triplets who pilot the three-armed “Crimson Typhoon” and the Australian father and son duo in the strongest and fastest Jaeger “Striker Eureka”. Raleigh also meets a young Jaeger technician, Mako Mori, who shows him the repaired Gipsy Danger.

  The crew of the Shatterdome is planning a final battle, in which the remaining Jaegers would deliver a nuclear bomb and destroy the interdimensional portal. Scientist dr. Geiszler manages to gain access to a Kaiju brain and discovers that the giant monsters are only the weapons of an invading species, the Precursors. Meanwhile Raleigh Becket is yet to find a matching co-pilot, he recognizes Mako’s desire to become a Jaeger pilot. During their first test Mako gets overwhelmed by her traumatizing memories and Raleigh learns that Mako lost her family during a Kaiju attack against Tokyo. He also finds out that commander Pentecost piloted the Jaeger that saved Mako’s life and that Pentecost raised her after the Tokyo incident.

  Soon after two Kaiju come through the portal and approach Hong Kong. In the following battle Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon are destroyed, and Striker Eureka becomes inoperable, leaving the city at the mercy of the giant monsters. Commander Pentecost reluctantly allows Raleigh and Mako to board Gipsy Danger. The action turns out to be a great success; Gipsy Danger defeats the two Kaiju, saves the city and Striker Eureka.

  For the final mission it is Raleigh and Mako that board Gipsy Danger, along with Striker Eureka, where commander Pentecost replacing the wounded Australian pilot and teams up with the younger Hansen. Their plan fails when Striker Eureka gets damaged in the underwater confrontation with three monstrous Kaiju. The pilots of the Australian Jaeger decide to sacrifice themselves in order to clear a path for Gipsy Danger. After the nuclear explosion that destroys Striker Eureka and two of the Kaiju, Raleigh and Mako take the dying third monster into the portal.

  Raleigh is forced to eject Mako from the damaged Jaeger; she is thrown out in an escape pod and reaches the surface safely. Raleigh overloads the nuclear core of the war machine: before entering an escape pod he sees the dying world of the Precursors. After his pod is ejected, Gipsy Danger explodes and the explosion kills many Precursors and Kaiju and also closes the interdimensional breach. Raleigh’s pod surfaces and the movie ends with Mako and Raleigh embracing each other, as the recovery crew arrives for them.

  Pacific Rim was directed by Mexican film maker Guillermo del Toro, based on Travis Beacham’s screenplay. Mako Mori was played by Rinko Kikuchi of Japan and three English actors, Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Idris Elba (commander Pentecost) and Robert Kazinsky (Chuck Hansen) were casted in the other leading roles. The movie’s soundtrack was composed by Ramin Djawadi.

  Following the tradition of the Japanese Godzilla and mecha movies, Guillermo del Toro tells a story of friendship, sacrifice, loneliness and honor. Besides the detailed and entertaining action sequences, the movie largely focuses on human relationships, such as Raleigh Becket’s initial distrust and later deep loyalty toward Mako, the tension between the Hansens and Mako’s inner fight (Mako respects Pentecost’s wishes and is willing to put away her own desires to fight). The Kaiju and the Jaegers were designed one by one, to give each one of them character and detail, to make them active and distinct parts of the film, just as the humans were.

  Supporting media: the movie’s novelization was written by Alex Irvine, and there was an art book titled Man, Machines and Monsters, by David S. Cohen. A comic book Tales from Year Zero, written by Travis Beacham is the official prequel of the movie. NECA released the Pacific Rim action figures, such as Striker Eureka, Gipsy Danger, Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha and Coyote Tango – and Kaiju Knifehead, Scunner, Trespasser and Leatherback.

  Pacific Rim was a box office success and received positive reviews from the critics. The sequel is scheduled to be released in 2017.

  Fan contribution: the movie has a large and very creative fanbase. There are dozens of cosplayers at every conventions that recreate the character of dr. Geiszler, dr. Gottlieb, Tendo Choi, Mako Mori, Raleigh Becket and there are awesome Jaeger cosplays as well. Fan comics and other art are available on the internet, along with thousands of fanfictions. I would like to mention tumblr user Gataro’s Pawcific Rim universe, which features dogs as the notable characters of the movie, with great amount of love and understanding towards the world of Pacific Rim.

 

 

Tron

  Released in the summer of 1982, the original Tron movie was initially overshadowed by the science fiction hits of the year, such as E.T. and Star Trek II., just to become a cult classic throughout the years. The story of the rebellious, young computer programmer, who gets transported into the digital world of a computer was ahead of its time, ahead of the age of the internet, the rise of the great tech companies on the west coast, ahead of Michael Crichton’s suspense books.

  In the movie Kevin Flynn, who is a talented, free-spirited programmer of ENCOM, comes up with a few innovative video games, which are later stolen from him by another ENCOM employee, Edward Dillinger. Operating a video game arcade at daytime and trying to hack into the ENCOM system in order to prove the truth at night, Flynn soon receives help from two of his former co-workers. Suspicious of the new developments at ENCOM, the three of them break in to the office building to obtain the information that would reveal Dillinger’s actions – unaware of that Dillinger’s Master Control Program has been awake and that the malicious program with own artificial intelligence would do anything to keep its secrets.

  Using a digitizing laser, the Master Control Program transports Flynn into the computer so that it could get rid of its rival on its own playground. But in the digital world Flynn meets Tron, a friendly security program and other video game warriors that believe in Users and are willing to fight against the tyrannical MCP. After numerous adventures, chases, battles and escapes Flynn and his new friends defeat the Master Control Program and free the system. Flynn returns into his own world with the proofs he was looking for and subsequently wins ENCOM.

  Directed by Steven Lisberger, written by Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird, designed my Moebius and Syd Mead, with Wendy Carlos’ music, the first movie was groundbreaking in every possible aspect and introduced a world that has not been seen before. Filmed in black and white, before a black set, using extensive computer animation, the movie cels were shipped back and forth between the US and China, where the cels were manually painted and colored one by one. All these efforts resulted a film with scenery that was shown on the movie screen for the fist time. But the world was not ready: while the movie did deliver, it did not become a big hit and while it received Academy Award nominations for Best Costume and Best Sound, it would not get nominated for the best visual effects, because back in those days using computers was considered to be cheating. But the movie was the first of a kind, the beginning of a new era and the way computer animation was used in movies. It also put down the foundations for the Pixar studio. It was one of the early, great movies of Jeff Bridges, who is the only actor from the film who has risen to real stardom.

  The novelization of the movie was written by Brian Daley.

  Following the movie release Midway came out with a Tron arcade game, which made more money than the film did – upon the success a second arcade game, Discs of Tron was created soon after.

  In 2003 a PC game called Tron 2.0 was released along with a comic book Tron: Ghost in the Machine. These sequels were loosely linked to the movie, however despite of the good reviews, the sales were disappointing and the storyline they have picked up, was generally forgotten and considered non-canon later.

  The great return of the franchise came in 2010, when the second movie titled Tron: Legacy was released, along with the video game Tron: Evolution and the comic book Betrayal. The game and the comic book were both meant to cover and explain the events between the two movies. The Betrayal comic, that was introduced at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, was written by Jai Nitz and was drawn by Jeff Matsuda and Andie Tong.

  From the game and the comic we learn that Kevin Flynn kept the secret of the digital world he had discovered in the first movie, for himself. Using the original digitizing laser he visits the computer world numerous times and builds an own system for himself. He becomes one of the greatest program developers and writes several successful books about programming. While ENCOM rises to the top with him, Flynn becomes more and more alienated and lonely, especially after his wife’s death. To take off some of the pressure from himself, Flynn creates a digital doppelganger of himself, named Clu and entrusts the program with creating the perfect system inside of the computer. In the beginning Flynn, Clu and Tron appear to be managing the new system with great success, but later the balance is broken by the sudden, unexplained appearance of intelligent isomorphic algorithms, the ISOs. The seemingly endless flow of new programs into the computer creates tension, and the unsolved issues lead to a break up between Clu and Flynn. During the fight Flynn runs out of time and gets trapped in his own system, while Tron’s fate remains unknown.

  The greatly anticipated second movie was released in December, 2010. In the movie, that takes place 30 years after the events of the original film, ENCOM’s main shareholder is Sam, Kevin Flynn’s now adult son. Sam, a programmer himself, discovers the hidden computer room under his lost father’s closed gaming Arcade and gets transported to the Grid accidentally. There he meets Clu, who became the ruler of the digital world and tries to use Sam as a bait to lure Kevin Flynn out from his hiding place. Sam is saved from the Game Grid by a program named Quorra, who takes Sam to his father. After an awkward reunion a now aged Kevin Flynn tells his son about Clu’s revolt, Tron’s disappearance and the purge, that destroyed the ISOs. They are unable to come to an agreement about their further plans and Sam goes back to the city to meet a mysterious program, upon Quorra’s advice. He walks into a trap, from where he is saved by his father and Quorra. While on the way to the portal, the departure point from the system Quorra is revealed to be the last living ISO, who is meant to change the world and during an aerial battle Tron, who has spent the previous 20 years as Clu’s reprogrammed enforcer, saves their lives. Reaching their destination the trio confronts Clu once more and the duel ends with Sam and Quorra escaping from the Grid, while Kevin Flynn reintegrates with Clu.

  The movie was a box office success. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, upon Edward Kitsis’ and Adam Horowitz’s screenplay, along with the suggestive music by Daft Punk, the movie did not outperform itself, but was a solid sequel and also a decent salute to the original movie. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and received many other acknowledgements. In the cast, next to Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner (who had played Tron and also Alan Bradley in the original movie) that have reprised their roles, we could see Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund, representing the young generation, with James Frain and Michael Sheen in supporting roles.

  Most of Legacy was filmed in 3D and it raised the bar once again as per visuals. A clean design, dominated by dark structures and light lines was created as a more modern version of the original digital world – and Clu, Kevin Flynn’s young doppelganger was fully animated. Special light suits were designed for the actors, along with their individual identity discs; even though Legacy was a largely animated science fiction movie, much of the Grid and the Tron universe was actually built and physically existing.

  In accordance to the movie, Disney released a great deal of merchandise, toys, identity discs and games. It was featured in Disney theme parks in Florida, California and in Europe, including the ElecTronica festival in Anaheim, which remained open for an extra year upon the positive response.

  When Tron: Legacy came out on DVD, there was a short movie titled The Next Day in the extras, which is a follow up to the movie. It is much of a teaser for the coming sequel, but it also leaves the door open for any possible storyline they might pick up.

  As a cult movie, Tron has a great deal of followers on the internet. Fan created merchandise is available, starting from the ‘Flynn lives’ t-shirts and clothing items to Legacy suits and discs (for and from cosplayers), toys, fanart, bracelets, necklaces, guerilla websites (www.encominternational.com for example) and there are hundreds of fanfictions available on the web.

  In 2012 a book titled The Making of Tron was published by William Kallay, for the 30th anniversary of the first movie. On the 27th of October, 2012 the original Tron movie received an anniversary screening in the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where the crew of the film also made an appearance, along with Bruce Boxleitner and dozens of Tron cosplayers. There were panels before the movie screening and after the movie the guests attended a party, where Tron collectibles and reliquie were on display, there was a costume contest, Tron arcade games available to play with and DJs were entertaining the people with electronic music and remixes.

  Throughout the years the Tron universe and its characters were mentioned in countless other media products, such as the Simpsons, Once Upon a Time, The Goldbergs, Adventure Time, South Park, The Big Bang Theory and many more.