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Pacific Rim!
tilivenn
A number of people on my friends-list have seen and enjoyed Pacific Rim. I more or less agree with everything they all have to say; it's really good, it totally succeeds at the admirable action-movie goals it sets for itself, it's about communal effort rather than individual heroism. But my Pacific Rim review is going to be a little different. (No spoilers follow.)

A lot of the commentary I've seen on this movie - not just on LJ, but from various pop culture commentators I follow on Twitter and elsewhere - is talking about how it's better than other blockbuster action movies of recent years, how it makes us really care in a way Michael Bay never could and so on. I trust that this point is more or less accurate, but I can't speak from experience, because I more or less can't enjoy action movies as they're intended.

I'm really squeamish about depictions of violence, most especially in live-action movies. As far as I can tell this is more or less just an inborn aversion; it's certainly not a moral judgment. If I had my druthers I'd be able to watch anything no matter how gory, because then I could have gotten into horror way sooner and maybe have more of an interaction with the genre on film (as it is, my explorations have been mostly confined to comics and prose). But seeing certain kinds of injuries happen to people, or animals, or just generally characters in movies, makes me curl into a ball and jam my fingers into my ears. Bones breaking or things being severed are definitely the worst; big gashes or parts being crushed are also very bad. Gunshot wounds, for some reason, barely bother me at all, and people punching each other is mostly fine as long as there isn't a whole lot of blood or ugly crunching sounds. If I can tell it's coming and cover my ears and close my eyes, things are basically fine (though being able to hear it and not see it is HORRIBLE). I not infrequently watch movies with friends who've seen them before, so they can warn me. But it does mean that during pretty much any action scene of any kind, even in a movie I'm relatively sure is not going to be very violent, there's a part of me that is tensed and ready to hide, to protect myself. It's very difficult to get lost in the fun of it when I'm simultaneously so anxious and, sometimes, so terrified.

This is not to say that I never enjoy action movies, or movies with scenes of violence! I loved Pan's Labyrinth, for Pete's sake. But I don't seem to enjoy them in the way they are designed to be enjoyed. I can't lose myself in the id-satisfying moment of seeing the good guys win, even if that's all that I want today, even if I really really hate the bad guys, because what if someone's skin gets broken somehow?

Okay, but Pacific Rim. There's lots of fighting in Pacific Rim. Lots of dangerous fighting! What gives? Well, I don't know if you noticed, but neither jaegers nor kaiju look anything like human beings. Pacific Rim is the first action movie in which I've been absolutely thrilled to see the hero tear the arm off the monster. del Toro, and the host of people involved in creating the look of the kaiju, completely succeeded in making them unreal, unsympathetic, and yet also beautiful and fascinating. I enjoyed seeing their weird blue blood ooze out and melt things. And if a jaeger gets damaged? Well, it's scary, the way it's supposed to be scary, because good guys are in danger. But jaegers don't feel pain. And yeah, the pilots get hurt, but since they weren't the ones actually punching kaiju, I didn't find myself constantly on edge waiting for something to snap their legs in half. So instead I enjoyed this the way I was supposed to. Oh my god you guys. Did you know that action movies are incredibly fun to watch? They're exciting!

So yeah. If you're like me and you find it tricky to watch violence, try Pacific Rim. Now that I've realized that mecha are the glorious gateway to loving action scenes, I'm going to go watch another episode of Gundam Seed. Hooray!

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Fellow averse-to-violence fistbump. In my case, it mostly takes the form of a number of video games I've played ten minutes of and will never touch again because the violence therein depicted is just too much for me. People keep telling me these games are masterpieces of creative work that truly exemplify how interactive media makes fellow-artists out of the audience, and that may be true, but I DON'T WANT TO SEE PEOPLE BEATEN TO DEATH WITH WRENCHES. Similarly, I made the mistake of watching Watchmen in theaters because I'd loved the graphic novel, and the scene in the prison block where the bad guys needed access to the lock gave me literal nightmares.

I've already seen Pacific Rim, but your review gives me a wonderful feeling of solidarity. May we find more fun action movies that don't set off squeamishness! (Preferably ones that pass the Bechdel test, but that's another discussion)

Oh hey I know which game you're talking about.
Would you kindly tell me if I'm right? :P

(Deleted comment)
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