You know how there are some movies you grew up with that, although you love them, you recognize that they had quite a few faults? Movies where you saw it when you were 10, thought it was awesome, and even though you’re older now and realize it probably wasn’t even that good of a movie, you still tell yourself you love it (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m looking at you…)?
Pacific Rim is probably that movie.
Look, there are some pretty cheesy lines in this. The plot is very predictable. The CGI is sometimes ridiculously obvious. Most of the acting is fine, but some is just passable. There are multiple nonsensical plot holes.
And yet, for some reason, I had more fun watching this movie than many of the others I’ve seen this year.
The brief synopsis involves an inter-dimensional rift opening near the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where giant monsters code-named “Kaijus” (Japanese for “strange creature,” paying homage to the Godzilla franchise) emerge on an increasingly regular basis, wreaking destruction and havoc on coastal cities. Jet fighters and soldiers prove not to be enough, so the Jaeger program is initiated in order to produce giant robot fighters that are controlled by two human pilots (a single human can’t control one without severe brain damage). Though the Jaegers do well at stopping the onslaught for years, the Kaijus begin to evolve and improve and ultimately put them on the defensive, until there are only a few remaining. The bulk of the story picks up at the end, with what is to be the “defeat them once and for all” moment of the war.
If you’ve seen any sci-fi movie, you can see where this is going. Mentor brings hero back into the fold to save the world once last time and meets cute heroine, learning a thing or two from her in the process about himself and his station in life. Other characters are lost tragically until the very end, when it’s time to save the world, requiring ultimate sacrifice.
But knowing all that, I still enjoyed it. There are times when you want to go to a movie, turn off your mind for a few minutes, and watch giant robots beat the crap out of giant monsters. This is why the Godzilla movies did (do?) so well at the box office: story matters to an extent, but in the end, the people come for the monsters. And oh, the monsters. The Kaijus are coming through the rift, but each one looks/acts a bit different. Some fly, some have strong tails, some spit blue acid goo at you, some are just big bruisers. Their variety is endless (and unexplained…this is one of those “nonsensical plot holes” where the writers fail to explain why these giant aliens come to Earth and now look like crabs, or hammerhead sharks…hmmmm…), and it presents interesting challenges for the Jaegers in how to deal with them. Sometimes it involves beating them with an ocean liner. And believe you me, that’s cool.
Guillermo del Toro is a popular director among many, though I can’t say I’m his biggest fan (the Hellboy movies just didn’t do that much for me…). However, I do appreciate his ability to craft a world that’s intricately detailed. Rather than just seeing “giant robots” walking around, through the eyes of the human pilots, you actually see the gears turning and the hydraulics pumping. You can see the evolution of Jaegers, where the older ones look primitive, compared with the newer, sleeker, faster ones. You get a sense that these things are big, rather than just two dudes in monster suits walking around buildings made of cardboard. Even though the Kaijus are obviously CGI characters, you see them in a context with the Jaegers and the surrounding cities that makes you believe what you’re seeing, rather than being constantly “pulled out” of the experience. Seeing it in IMAX 3D probably helped with the blending of real people and CG animation.
So yes, in the end, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Is it going to win a “Best Picture” Oscar? No.
Was it a ton of fun?
3 Replies to “Review: Pacific Rim”
I find it funny that both you and your sister saw this movie and that both of you enjoyed it, even though you both admit it wasn’t the best movie of the year! Must say something about the environment in which you were raised!
It’s still better than “Joe versus The Volcano.” All you need to know. 🙂
AACCKKKKK!!! Worst. Movie. Ever. LOL
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