With Unpacking, MacIssac taps into the inner life of a conflicted and emotionally paralyzed gay man and explores the truths and lies we all tell ourselves just to survive and keep moving, keep loving and keep unpacking.
This is it. Ten years, 18 movies, and countless end credit scenes leading up to one of the most anticipated and unprecedented events in genre cinema. Dozens of characters coming together in what’s billed as the pinnacle of what a shared universe narrative can accomplish.
The first two acts drag on forever as we learn motivations and histories that don’t mean much of anything and meet a cast of supporting characters whose net contribution to the final product is just a little more than nothing. The final act is exciting, entertaining and a whole host of other e-words, but the build-up to it is completely excruciating.
Few things are more fundamental to human expression, never mind cinematic narrative, as speech. It isn’t merely the words we say, but how we say them. Tone, volume, inflection, cadence. The right combination of all four of these can turn even the simplest words into a profound statement. So what happens when we’re not only denied this ability but told that the use of speech could put us in mortal danger?
The ostensible conflict in Ready Player One, the film version of Ernest Cline’s pop culture cluster-bomb of a novel, involves a corporation that wants to cover virtual reality with advertisements. It’s an odd take on villainy for a film that is entirely fueled by the exploitation of intellectual properties for cheap thrills. Not that that’s entirely a bad thing; even commercials are capable of rising to the level of art every now and again, even commercials that run for 140 minutes.
A good sequel is a marked improvement on the original. Maybe it’s bigger and bolder, pushing the boundaries of the things that made the previous entry successful. It might deepen its internal mythology or twist expectations of the narrative we’ve come to know. The only thing that the pointless Pacific Rim: Uprising does better than predecessor? It’s 20 minutes shorter.