#334. Amnesia

What were we talking about? Oh yes, amnesia. While this trope is usually associated with soap operas, it has been used in a variety of diverse formats and for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes the effect can be used for humorous purposes, much like the plot of 50 First Dates (2004). More often than not, amnesia is used to make the protagonist more relatable to the audience. Everything the main character re-learns is new information to the audience. In fact, this trope is typically used to not only provide lengthy exposition but to also give the plot a good twist at the end. If anything, amnesia can make characters more dynamic: acting one way as they regain their memories, then having to make the decision to either revert to their former life or pick up their new one once they learn the truth. This week’s two films highlight amnesia as a plot device.

UnkownUnknown
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes /  1.42 hours

The largest appeal of amnesia as a plot device is the erasure of any memories the main character would have that would bias their decision-making process. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000). The little hints the main character gives himself to avenge his wife’s death only act to propel him into an unintentional bias that drives him to vengeance. While Memento covers a medical condition, temporary amnesia has its uses as a plot device as well. When key memories fall into place for temporary amnesiacs, the plot is driven forward by the exciting revelations. Films like Total Recall (1990) and Unknown (2011) hide assassins in plain sight. However, when the entire cast of characters contracts temporary amnesia, figuring out who’s who and each individual’s alliances makes for exceptional drama.

Not to be confused with the Liam Neeson film of the same name, Unknown (2006) starts with a group of men regaining consciousness and trying to figure out why they’re locked in an abandoned warehouse. They also need to deduce why one of them was tied up, another shot, and why the rest of them have other, various injuries. Slowly, they begin to piece together that they are part of a failed kidnapping due to an accidental chemical leak that put them in a temporary coma and erased their memories. As their memories return, each individual realizes they’re either a kidnapper or the kidnapped. When the mafia returns to unlock the warehouse, they proceed to eliminate the witnesses, not knowing that one of the individuals has just remembered his actual job: acting as an undercover cop to infiltrate the mob.

The Bourne IdentityThe Bourne Identity
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Memories are the moments that define our lives. We are who we are via the collected memories of our lives. These memories shape us and inform our decisions in life. If memories are erased, an individual can be molded into almost anyone. If a government has the ability to erase memories, they can create docile and obedient soldiers, much like was seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Of course, memories are much easier to erase when they’re part of a cybernetic interface. Films like Robocop (1987) and Ghost in the Shell (2017) show this digital memory erasure still comes with some problems, though. But what if a well-trained super soldier loses their memories? Would they continue to call upon their ingrained training, being able to perform all their duties without knowing how they got that way? Would they continue to kill without knowing why?

After an unidentified man is found floating in the Mediterranean by some local fishermen, he only has one clue to his identity: a safe deposit box in Switzerland. While he doesn’t know who he is, he does retain a plethora of useful skills. Opening the box in Zurich, the man learns he has multiple cover identities and opts to use the one of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Unfortunately, his presence is soon identified, and he has to run away, mostly unsure why he is being chased. As he comes in contact with more people from his past, he learns that he was a highly-trained assassin and part of Operation Treadstone. Because he carries no memories of his time as a CIA black ops operative, he decides he’s better off cutting ties with Treadstone. Unfortunately, Treadstone does not want to lose an asset as valuable as Jason Bourne and will fight him to bring him back into the program.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 awesome amnesias

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#332. Revenge!

Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” This statement is most relevant when it comes to the idea of revenge. A concept almost as old as time itself, revenge puts justice in our own hands after someone wrongs us. Often, the people who have done the wrong will wish they had killed the person they slighted, thus preventing any revenge in the process. I want to make sure you understand that revenge is not vengeance since someone being avenged (like in Hamlet (1948)) is usually dead or incapable of producing their own revenge. If we don’t want to wait for the Lord to provide vengeance (Romans 12:19), we’ll make sure those who have wronged us are given their comeuppance. This week’s two films focus on the timeless act of revenge.

Revenge of the NerdsRevenge of the Nerds
Year: 1984
Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

If there’s any culture who feels the need for revenge, it’s nerd culture. Sure, now nerds are “cool” since technology has made all our lives a little easier, but it wasn’t always this way. Even the genres most nerds appreciate have plenty of examples of revenge. From the science fiction offerings of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Robocop (1987), and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), to the comic book heroes like V for Vendetta (2005) and Deadpool (2016), many of these plotlines either show that evil never prospers (even when it wants to enact its revenge), or that the protagonists need to stand up for themselves if they don’t want to be taken advantage of. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) shows what tools these individuals have at their disposal to enact their revenge against the jocks who torment them.

Most of the nerds at Adams College feel they are constantly harassed by the football players from the Alpha Beta fraternity. After creating their own fraternity full of nerds, they find they are unable to stop the pranks of the Alpha Betas unless they are a nationally- recognized fraternity. While initially skeptical, the leader of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity is convinced that these nerds belong in their predominantly black organization due to the similarities of the persecution they all face, as well as having the gumption to do something about it. The Tri-Lambs go about enacting their revenge on the Alpha Betas (and the Pi Delta Pi sorority) by eventually winning the Greek Games and taking over control of the Greek system on campus. When the Alpha Betas destroy the Tri-Lambs’ house, the nerds storm the football prep rally and elicit the support of everyone ever bullied by a jock.

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

While we’d often want to take revenge on the person who took our parking spot or ate our lunch out of the fridge, some people have much more severe reasons why they want, nay need to take revenge on their enemies. One director who seems to understand this impetus toward revenge is Quentin Tarantino. From Kill Bill (2003/4) to Django Unchained (2012), and to a lesser extent, the vengeance-fueled Inglorious Basterds (2009), Tarantino shows that “violence is the answer.” This idiom can be seen in many other films like Memento (2000), John Wick (2014), The Revenant (2015), and Oldboy (2003). Of these films, the most serious revenge occurs when the protagonist is left for dead. While revenge can often involve killing the person (or people) who did you the most wrong, what The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) understands is that the punishment should directly reflect the crime.

Life is looking pretty great for Edmond Dantés (Jim Caviezel). Not only has he been promoted to Captain of the ship he was on, but he is ready to marry his girlfriend, Mercédès (Dagmara Dominczyk). Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, Edmond has obtained some enemies who wish to destroy him. After a false accusation sends him to the isolated prison, Château d’If, he swears he will escape and take revenge on those who put him there. With the help of aged prisoner, Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Edmond is educated and given an opportunity to escape to a vast treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. Now that he has the smarts and resources to enact his revenge, he arrives back in Marseille as the Count of Monte Cristo, his enemies unaware that Edmond Dantés still lives under this pseudonym. One-by-one, each man receives Dantés’ revenge, eventually allowing him to pick up his life again.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 payback plots

#331. Fraternities

One of the benefits of going to college is the networking that can occur via the conglomeration of like-minded individuals. If the cliques of high school were bad, imagine living in an entire house of these people. Jocks and nerds tend to segregate into their own little social circles, but sometimes they even go so far as to create a fraternity to provide structure to the social construct. Some individuals see these fraternities (and other social clubs) as an opportunity to advance in life. As we saw in The Social Network (2010), the desire to feel included in social societies extends beyond the physical world of Greek life and has transcended into the digital. Still, many of the deepest friendships a guy can form during college can be found in the fraternities associated with the school. This week’s two films examine life in a college fraternity.

                                                 National Lampoon’s Animal HouseNational Lampoon's Animal House
Year: 1978
Rating: R
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours

While there are many different fraternities with a wide variety of different focuses, most Hollywood films tend to put them into two conflicting categories. This is to induce conflict within the main plot of the movie. From jocks vs. nerds to rich vs. poor, the underdogs are always the group pegged as the protagonists of these stories. Of course, in real life, many of these fraternities would get in serious legal trouble for the pranks they pull on the other houses, but perhaps the comedic value of college anarchy and the idolization of the “party hard” lifestyle is what makes them so appealing. If anything, Animal House (1978) is the epitome of the fraternity film, showing how fun sex, alcohol, and rock & roll are when compared to the alternative: actually going to class and earning an education.

Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon) is at the end of his rope when it comes to the troublemaking Delta Tau Chi fraternity. Not only do they have abysmal grade point averages, but they have broken many (if not all) of the school’s rules. Since the fraternity was already on probation, Dean Wormer puts them on “double-secret probation” and enlists the help of the superior Omega Theta Pi fraternity to get the Deltas to screw up one more time so their charter can be revoked. Upon learning of their almost impending dissolution after failing a test based off of a fraudulent answer key, the Deltas decide to have a toga party, which ends up involving the Dean’s wife, as well as the Mayor’s daughter. With all the evidence he needs in place, Dean Wormer expels the Deltas from Faber College. Unfortunately, the Deltas have one last stunt they can pull at the homecoming parade.

Revenge of the NerdsRevenge of the Nerds
Year: 1984
Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

As I mentioned earlier, “birds of a feather flock together,” is perhaps the best definition of a fraternity. A group of guys who have similar interests and/or intentions for their college career will tend to congregate in the same place. A fraternity house is merely a convenient way for them to live together, so their curricular and extra-curricular activities are all in the same spot. Of course, with the rise of the Greek system comes competition. While some films manage to cover this type of competition in a child-friendly way (like Monsters University (2013) did), many of them are certainly raunchier, keeping in line with the standard Animal House set in the late 1970’s. Even though competition should be friendly, often there can be severe discrimination and persecution involved, as seen in Revenge of the Nerds (1984).

Due to a fire that destroyed the Alpha Betas’ fraternity house, the jocks have displaced the freshmen in the dorms, leaving incoming freshmen Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine) and Gilbert Lowe (Anthony Edwards) in a temporary setup in the gymnasium. To get out of the gym, the computer science majors take the opportunity to rush the school’s fraternities, only to be rejected by all of them. Along with other nerds, Lewis and Gilbert decide to start their own fraternity by fixing up a house on campus. To gain a charter to become official, they ask to become Lambda Lambda Lambdas, which is a predominantly black fraternity. The head of the Tri-Lambs agrees to give them their membership not only due to the persecution he sees the nerds enduring but also due to the resistance they give to the bullying. When the annual Greek Games arrive, it’s up to the Tri-Lambs to prove they’re the best!

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 funny fraternities

#330. Scholastic Transition of 1962

1962 was an exciting time. From the civil rights movement to the Vietnam War, a lot of change was happening in the world. While there was plenty of turmoil for adults to worry about, most teenagers were worried about school. Whether they were high school students concerned about what to do after graduation or college students ready to live the independent life away from their parents, the transition from academic realms continues to be the big question looming over teenagers even today. Of course, this big question carries with it some smaller questions, many of which revolve around a person’s identity. Who are they? Who do they want to become? While a school can provide the structure to find answers to these questions, the transition is still a life-long milestone. This week’s two films highlight the scholastic transition of 1962.

American GraffitiAmerican Graffiti
Year: 1973
Rating: PG
Length: 110 minutes / 1.83 hours

Graduating high school is often seen as the largest transition of an individual’s life. Up until this point, they’ve had to listen to their parents and do what their teachers asked of them. By the end of their high school careers, they’re on the top of the social ladder and are ready to take on the world. For some, this means going to college to earn a degree and start a career. Others will pursue local jobs to remain close to home and continue the relationships they’ve already developed. Still others might find the allure of a military career and join the armed services. Whatever they choose to do, most people will finally have the freedom and independence to live their life the way they want to. Of course, any way they go about living their lives, they’ll need to build up from almost nothing, having transitioned out of the life of a high school student.

Following four high school graduates on their last day of summer vacation, American Graffiti (1979) reveals how a single night can change someone’s perspective on life. Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss) finds himself searching for a woman he met at a stop light, eventually resorting to a radio DJ to get a message to her before he leaves for college in the morning. Steve Bolander (Ron Howard) is set to go to the same college as Curt, telling his girlfriend, Laurie Henderson (Cindy Williams), they should see other people. He changes his mind after Laurie got in a car accident during a race and promises to stay in town with her instead of going to college. Terry “The Toad” Fields (Charles Martin Smith) and John Milner (Paul Le Mat) cruise the city looking for girls, but eventually get goaded into a race with Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford), which leads to the aforementioned car crash.

National Lampoon’s Animal HouseNational Lampoon's Animal House
Year: 1978
Rating: R
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours

College is a fantastic time for introspection and soul searching. In the halls of higher education, an individual can learn who they are and who they want to be. Sometimes these are two different things. Of course, the allure of an independent life within the vast social construct of college can lead an individual to lose all sense of self-control as well. While both experiences have their merit, knowing how to balance them is the challenge of the college freshman. It can be a big leap from living with mom and dad to living with a bunch of guys who party almost every night. While high school had its own cliques and social strata, college takes these constructs and makes them much larger than they were before. We all want to have high social standing in college, but sometimes we’re stuck being on the bottom rung of that society.

Larry Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) have just started their first semester at Faber College. Knowing they want to join a fraternity, they attend a party at the Omega Theta Pi house. While they don’t have what it takes to join this fraternity, Kent has a connection to the Delta Tau Chi house, since his brother was a member. Of course, Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon) is frustrated with Delta’s continual and abysmal actions on campus and is looking to get the fraternity expelled from the college. While he enlists the Omegas to sabotage the already failing Deltas, the Deltas end up being undeterred and decide to throw a toga party. The conflict between the Deltas and Omegas eventually escalates to physical violence, inspiring John Blutarsky (John Belushi) to give a speech to the frat before they go and cause chaos at the homecoming parade.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 school stories

#327. Russian Revolution

Sometimes the status quo doesn’t work for everyone. When an enormous divide between people groups appears, it’s usually only a matter of time before their differences spiral into conflict. Whether these divisions are due to race or wealth, if a peaceful compromise cannot be achieved through words, a revolution is bound to arise. Often, these revolutions are instigated by the people group who feels oppressed by the current state of affairs. If this group is big enough, they can enact a change to their benefit through sheer force alone. The 1917 Russian Revolution was just such a revolt. It’s a little odd to think it’s now been just over 100 years since this country changed from a monarchy to the communist state we see today. This week’s two films highlight the effects the Russian Revolution had on different people groups within the former empire of Tsar Nicholas II.

AnastasiaAnastasia
Year: 1997
Rating: G
Length: 94 minutes / 1.56 hours

On one side of the Russian Revolution, we have the aristocracy. I’m sure that monarchs like Tsar Nicholas II would like to have peace within their countries. Even if the people don’t get to choose the leader, the whole system works better if the king and his subjects are on agreeable terms. That being said, people will often look out for their best interests before thinking about others. Consequently, wealth and comfort tend to flow up to the rulers in these political systems, leaving the working man destitute and angry. Despite the Russian Revolution balancing this inadequacy, the royal family was still just that: a family. It is easy to villainize your opponents to justify harsh actions, but sometimes we forget that the opposing side is comprised of people not too different from ourselves. No family should have to endure losing a daughter, even if they are wealthier than the common man.

While not historically accurate, Anastasia (1997) follows the titular Russian Grand Duchess as the events of the Russian Revolution cause her to be separated from her family. Angry about being exiled for treason, Grigori Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) curses the royal family with a magical device he obtained by selling his soul. As the revolt ramped up, Anastasia (Meg Ryan) became separated from her family, receiving an amnesia-inducing bump on the head in the process. A decade later, former servant boy, Dimitri (John Cusack), is aiming to collect the reward for the safe return of the missing Anastasia. Even though he identifies the real Anastasia as a dead ringer, he soon realizes she’s the real thing. Unfortunately, Rasputin has also realized the last heir of the royal family is still alive and sets out to capture and kill her. Upon meeting her grandmother in Paris, Anastasia regains her memories and defeats Rasputin.

Doctor ZhivagoDoctor Zhivago
Year: 1965
Rating: Approved
Length: 197 minutes / 3.28 hours

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “History is written by the victors.” If the films made after the Russian Revolution about the revolt are any indication, this is a true statement. Even a single decade after the change in politics, Sergei Eisenstein made October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1927), which has been hailed as one of the best works of cinema. Similarly, Reds (1981) received a nomination for Best Picture, as did Doctor Zhivago (1965). The one film that carries a caveat is Animal Farm (1954) since it is used as propaganda to highlight the dangers of the Russians’ new way of thinking. At any rate, many of these films show the Russian Revolution from the perspective of the common man. It becomes clear that change was inevitable, especially from those who just want to live their lives, Doctor Zhivago being the best example of this.

During a peaceful demonstration in 1913, Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) uses his medical skills to treat one of the dissenters, meeting Lara (Julie Christie) in the process. When World War I starts, Yuri is drafted as a battlefield doctor while Lara enlists to be a nurse as she searches for her friend Pasha (Tom Courtenay). Upon their return home, the February Revolution of 1917 causes Zhivago to ask Lara to help him take care of the wounded. It’s at this time that the two fall in love, despite Yuri already being married. His poet’s heart continues to beat for Lara as he remains faithful to his wife. Unfortunately, his poems are seen to be anti-Communist which forces him to escape to the countryside. Of course, this is after he is accidentally conscripted to be part of the revolutionary army against his will. When he finally arrives, his family is gone, and he is finally able to live his life with Lara.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 repercussions from the Russian Revolution

#326. Grigori Rasputin

I have always found Grigori Rasputin to be a fascinating historical figure. Most of my fascination with him comes from the urban legends surrounding his death(s). He allegedly survived being poisoned, shot, and beaten, even though exact details of what happened do not exist. Even his corpse seemed to move as it burned in a cremation fire, but that was likely due to his muscles and tendons contracting due to the heat. Considering his connections to mysticism, these urban legends make for an interesting antagonist. I have included Rasputin as a character in at least two of my books, each time highlighting his ability to be invulnerable to death. His unstoppable nature is perhaps what makes him an ideal villain. This week’s two films highlight Grigori Rasputin as a fictional character based on the historical one.

HellboyHellboy
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Length: 122 minutes / 2.03 hours

Because Rasputin had connections to mysticism, it makes sense that he would have connections to supernatural beings and activities. Once in the realm of the supernatural, many possibilities are now open. Immortality is not out of the question here. However, humans will always tend to fear the supernatural because it insinuates that we are not the most powerful beings in the world. With fear comes the desire to counter these supernatural forces with our own ingenuity. Failing ingenuity, we will try to recruit our own supernatural army to combat the forces of evil. There have been many fictional agencies founded to prevent the supernatural world from affecting the everyday citizens of our world. One such agency is that of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), an organization whose most powerful asset is a demon known as “Hellboy.”

Near the end of World War II, Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) has been tasked by the Nazis to open a portal to release supernatural beings for the sole purpose of defeating their enemies. When the Allies attack the ceremony, they manage to close the portal while also trapping Rasputin inside. The only being that came through to our world was a small demon theretofore known as “Hellboy” (Ron Perlman). Decades later, Rasputin is brought back by his Nazi partners. They release a hellhound imbued with hydra-like regeneration to get close to the key to opening the portal again: Hellboy. Using Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) as bait for Hellboy, Rasputin manages to open the portal and become the vessel for a Cthulhu-like creature. Unfortunately, Hellboy is there to destroy this beast, and therefore Rasputin in the process.

AnastasiaAnastasia
Year: 1997
Rating: G
Length: 94 minutes / 1.56 hours

Much like Tetris, nested dolls, and tall fur hats are staples of a basic understanding of Russian culture, Grigori Rasputin is one of the most recognizable elements of the country’s pre-communist era. Back during the time when a royal family of Tsars governed Russia, it was easy to develop political ties as long as you could prove to be useful to the ruling monarchy. However, even within these families, there are bound to be schisms that can lead to treason and brotherly usurpation. Depending on which side of a revolution an individual is on can determine whether they end up a hero or a prisoner of war. Those who want to benefit from whoever is in power will find themselves flexible to the whims of the Tsars, but once you remove the Tsars from power, the royal family became just another group of people with no more power than anyone else. Well, anyone else without mystical abilities.

After being banished from Russia for treason, Grigori Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) returns to enact his revenge on the Tsar who exiled him for treason. Arriving at Tsar Nicholas II’s (Rick Jones) celebration marking 300 years of Romanov rule, Rasputin uses a magical item he obtained through selling his soul. This item curses the Romanov family and initiates the Russian Revolution that led to the communist overthrow of the Tsar. Thinking he has killed the entire royal family, Rasputin is surprised to learn that the youngest daughter, Anastasia (Meg Ryan) survived. Sending his horde of evil minions after Anastasia to Paris where the princess’ grandmother, Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (Angela Lansbury), lives, Rasputin is confronted by the heir to the throne. Anastasia manages to disarm Rasputin of his magical crutch, finally killing him through its destruction.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Rasputin renegades

#323. Puppetry

As a society, we seem to have a love/hate relationship with puppets. While we enjoy films featuring puppets as the main characters, like in Pinocchio (1940) and The Muppet Movie (1979), we also fear them in movies like Child’s Play (1988) and Goosebumps (2015). Aside from the aforementioned Muppets, very few films actually use puppetry exclusively for their characters. The one exception to this was the Thunderbirds in their movie, Thunderbirds Are Go (1966), and its modern parody, Team America: World Police (2004). Even if these films prominently feature puppets, they don’t necessarily get into the details of puppetry itself. The act of controlling a puppet can be quite the challenging talent to acquire, but pulling the strings of a marionette isn’t the only way to engage in puppetry. This week’s two films highlight some different puppetry scenarios.

Being John MalkovichBeing John Malkovich
Year: 1999
Rating: R
Length: 112 minutes / 1.86 hours

There have been some films focused humans controlling humanoid robots. From the original Ghost in the Shell (1995) to its live-action remake in 2017, the idea of extending a person’s life through the human mind controlling a robotic body via mental puppetry isn’t new. Robocop (1987) and Chappie (2015) both emphasize the idea that humans can use machines to live their life when their bodies are no longer able to. The concept is rarely reversed, though. It is disquieting to think that a robot could control a human in the same way we control them. As humans, we already possess the skills needed to make puppets of our fellow humans. Through coercion, blackmail, and other forms of manipulation, we can control others to do our bidding. Only one film explores the ability for a human to control another human from the inside: Being John Malkovich (1999).

Famed actor, John Malkovich (himself), decided to make a rather drastic career change and become a world-renowned puppeteer. Unfortunately, this was not actually Malkovich’s decision, as Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) was controlling his body at the time. Craig was a down-on-his-luck puppeteer who happened to find a portal into the body of John Malkovich by chance. Initially, the portal only allowed for 15 minutes inside Malkovich to experience the life he lives. Using his skills as a puppeteer, Craig found that not only was he able to control Malkovich, but he was able to stay inside the portal for as long as he wanted. However, the portal is not meant for him and the organization that plans to use the portal to prolong their immortality proceed to enact a plan to get Craig to vanquish himself from the portal, allowing them to take his place permanently.

Pacific RimPacific Rim
Year: 2013
Rating: PG-13
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

It is interesting to note that puppetry, while usually relegated to humanoid objects smaller than their puppeteers, can be used to control objects much larger than the one controlling them. Even the one-for-one puppetry scale referenced in the previous section pales in comparison to the giant robots known as “mecha.” A staple of anime and manga, mecha are usually large humanoid robots piloted by a human. There have been some notable entries in this sub-genre, including Gurren Lagann, Star Driver, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. The hallmark of these series has usually been either battles between mecha or (more commonly) battles against giant monsters. When Pacific Rim (2013) came out, I became excited about potentially seeing these mecha anime adapted into live-action films. For right now, I’ll just have to settle with its soon-to-be-released sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018).

Giant monsters called Kaiju began emerging from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and wreaking havoc on the nearby landmasses. To combat this threat, a multinational alliance started building gigantic robots called Jaegers. These Jaegers were too big to for a single human to pilot them, so the concept of “drifting” was created to share the mental load between two or more pilots. When the frequency of the Kaiju attacks left the Jaegers helpless to defend the world, the world leaders scrapped the project for building a coastal wall. When this wall also failed, the commander of the Jaegers hatches one final plan to close the portal between our world and the world of the Kaiju. Using the last few working Jaegers, the mission to detonate a nuclear device in the portal commences just as the largest Kaiju ever emerges from the rift.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 peculiar puppets