So here’s what I want you to do. Call a good buddy of yours, maybe two if you’ve got ’em and have them come over to your place. All done? You’re all huddled around the screen waiting for the next instruction? Now hop in your car and go see this movie. Why? Because woo-fucking-hoo is it good. Granted, it’s certainly no Seven Years In Tibet, but if you want an ass-kicking summer blockbuster, well by golly this just may be your flick.
I initially didn’t anticipate much in the way of storytelling, but I’ve got to hand it to Guillermo del Toro for laying the smackdown on my jaded candy ass. For the most part, it’s what you’d expect: Humans must create a weapon in the form of giant robots to combat mysterious creatures from the black lagoon. However, we get a bit more than that. Like a what, where, and how on the origin of these “Kaiju.” Imagine that! My favorite aspect of the story is that it’s not just an American problem. This infestation has affected the whole world and nations like Russian, China, and Australia take up arms alongside those filthy American bastards. We get a bit of history on our protagonists and why they fight, but it’s nothing terribly intriguing. Personally, I don’t mind; “Uh… because I want to pilot a Jaeger?” would have been reason enough for me.
Can you believe I got my Bachelor’s in this shit?!
Charlie Hunnam (Becket) and Rinko Kikuchi (Mako) aren’t stellar, but definitely do a respectable job for the film. I’d say Idris Elba (Stacker), who plays their superior, shines a bit more. He has some fiery moments and a handful of pretty good lines. Charlie Day (Newton) from Always Sunny and Burn Gorman (Gottlieb) play our scientists/comic relief. They aren’t overly tongue-in-cheek, and add some nice commentary with their bickering and polarizing personalities. Of all the characters though, the little girl that plays a young Mako gets MVP. I don’t often praise child actors, unless we’re talking Dakota Fanning caliber, but Mana Ashida is incredible and all she does is scream and cry! She gives the most emotion of any of the cast in the 132 minutes of this film and believe me, that’s not an insult to the rest of them.
What can I say? This movie looks a-mazing. In fact, with the level that computer animation has risen to over the years, you’d probably be hard pressed to find a big budget movie that falls flat graphically from this point on. To me this is a double edged sword. I miss the days of hand crafted models and monster suits. It felt more real, because well, it was. Going this route takes away from performance. It gives the actors less to react to by not placing them in the scene. Remember the little girl running from velociraptors in Jurassic Park and how scared shitless she was? It’s because she was actually that terrified of being eaten by a rubber costume. On the other hand, filmmakers can do pretty much whatever they damn well please with current technology, creating some very original and fantastical stuff. Such as giant Jaeger robots whoopin some Kaiju monster butt!
Back in my day, I actually had to punch my coworkers!
From a movie like this you expect a good slobberknocker and I think Pacific Rim delivers. The mano-e-mano, Jeager vs Kaiju is very hard hitting. My recommendation for seeing this in the theatre is solely because of how epic these fights feel. I don’t believe you’ll get the same experience at home as watching this on a 40’x60′ screen with an intense sound system (RPX for the win). My one qualm with these fights however is the lack of weaponry. Sure, the Jeagers are fitted with some tricks up their sleeves, but it felt more like Battlebots than say, Gundam. It’s hard to imagine with how dire the situation is that Homosapien’s wouldn’t be pulling every trick out of the bag and when they do, you wonder why they hadn’t opened the fight that way. There is some human on human thrown into the mix and I was a big fan of this. Where our larger than life compadres are engaged in their own donnybrook, seeing Becket and team show off their skills with a staff is pretty freaking cool. It’s like Neo vs Morpheus but with sticks. Give me some well choreographed fast paced combat utilizing judo and military tactics and I’m a happy camper.
I’ll….I’ll just save this for later.
Haters Gonna Hate
While a very enjoyable movie, I still had a few minor issues (If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest skipping this section). My first and very minor problem was how a monstrosity weighing nearly 20,000 pounds would enter the battle being airlifted by like eight helicopters. There’s just no physical way. Secondly, I don’t really understand the sense of discontinuing the Jeager program for a wall. True, they were less effective, but it meant they needed more ingenuity. It doesn’t deal with the issue at hand and removes the only means of warding off a neverending supply of foes. My initial reaction was that they would immediately break through, inevitably being what happens. I don’t believe every nation would be on board for this and our military especially giving up construction of advanced weaponry for a more pacifistic approach. But I guess it made sense at the time? My final outcry, and this goes for movies in general, is the old bait and switch at the end. If you’re going to feign killing a character, please just do it. Offering up a sacrifice of death for life is completely nulled when that character makes it out in the end. I get Captain Kirk can’t actually die, but why not Raleigh Becket? It has become such a common plot device that you can call it before stepping foot on the premises. I was more bewildered when I actually thought Del Toro would go through with it. But I guess not everyone can be an Obi-Wan or Russell Casse.
Surprise motherfuckers! Bet you thought you’d never see me again!
- Audio and visuals do justice to these behemoths
- Continuously developing story
- All other means of defense forgotten
- Illogical decision making by “the powers that be”
So my review may be a bit biased. I grew up loving anything and everything giant robots. My childhood consisted of Robotech, Voltron and Transformers. Zoids? You better believe that was my jam. Anyone else ever owned Virtual On for Sega Saturn? Needless to say, I think if you enjoyed any and every one of these as much as me, Pacific Rim is a nice addition to the Mech world. It isn’t perfect by any means, but I look forward to the sequel, which I’m sure is already in the works.
Best line of the film: Idris Elba: “Where would you rather die, here, or in a Jeager?”
Worst line of the film: I actually didn’t pick up on any cheesy lines, so congrats on that.