Thanks to some Black Friday deals I picked up a bunch of Blu-Ray movies I’ve been meaning to check out. I snagged Pacific Rim for the price of a movie ticket and it was the 3D version, no less. Since the 3D version comes with the DVD and the regular Blu-Ray it was a no-brainer choice even if I didn’t particularly care for the film… now I just need a 3D TV. Anyway, short story is I finally got to see Pacific Rim and I’m ready to atomic blast you in the face with my thoughts.
I think it’s important to highlight two factors before continuing with my Pacific Rim review. The first is that I always considered myself to be a pretty big Godzilla (and other large monster movie) fan until the advent of the internet. And then I met guys like Poe Ghostal and I realized I was just a pretender to the throne of Godzilla fans. Still, I like giant monsters. Secondly, I wasn’t one of those people acting like Pacific Rim would be the second coming of Christ. Pacific Rim fever really gripped the internet for awhile there, but I wasn’t one of those ready to make Guillermo del Toro King of the Cosmos for simply making the movie. I only note these factors as reasons why I believe that I have more of an objective opinion than others might of had.
The basic set up of Pacific Rim is that the world is being slowly invaded by giant monsters called Kaiju and our only hope of having any chance of beating them without thousands of lives lost is giant robot suits called Jaegers. The movie does a great job of throwing these concepts at you without completely drowning you. You just have to know that and we’re off and running.
I’m just going to state right off that I really enjoyed Pacific Rim. It was a fun ride and if you haven’t seen it and enjoy mech suits beating up on monsters, you should check it out. If you want to read more about the problems I had with the flick and maybe get into some spoilers, read on!
I think one of the biggest reactions I had to Pacific Rim was anger. Why? Watching Pacific Rim just made me angry that it wasn’t more of a success than it was. I had been somehow foolish enough to see three Transformers movies in the theater and here was a movie that was much superior that didn’t even tough the kind of success those films have had. We live in an unjust world.
And I do think that the comparison to Transformers is valid in that both movies feature large robotic creatures, both are big budget flicks, and both feature a large cast of human characters trying to save the world. Where the humor of Transformers is aimed at what I can only guess is the brain damaged, I never felt like Guillermo Del Toro thought I was an idiot and that I was being pandered to. It was a good feeling. There needs to be more of this kind of movie.
There are a few things that really held Pacific Rim back and one of them has to be the title. It does absolutely nothing for the film except describe a location where the monsters are coming from. It doesn’t excite the general audience who knows nothing about the history of giant monster movies from Asia. And that brings me to my second point, it’s a new IP, meaning it can’t cash in on the name brand like Transformers was able to do. Finally with no real stars attached, it’s not hard to see why the general audience might have been less likely to spend their movie going dollars on this over ugh, I hate to say it… Grown Ups 2.
Pacific Rim isn’t without it’s flaws in the film itself either. The biggest flaw is that there’s a strange tonal shift between the super serious parts of the film and the comedy bits. For instance, the character Gottlieb is a super stereotypical frail English scientist (who for some reason has a super German name) and it doesn’t even feel like he belongs in this particular film. Likewise, Ron Perlman plays the over the top character Hannibal Chau who was okay, but I felt like it wasn’t really genuine. On the other end was Charlie Day. It’s almost impossible for me to not think of his character Charlie on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but he really does a great job here of being a smart version of Charlie.
On a side note: It really annoyed me that the dude in charge sent Charlie on a mission to get a brain of a Kaiju from Hannibal without any kind of assistance like an armed guard. This dude is one of your top two scientific brains, you can’t send him with an escort to someone you don’t trust?
The set up of Pacific Rim is rather interesting in that we are taken to a world where the war with the Kaiju has been going on for some time and just when we think we had it licked, the monsters became more powerful. The people in charge have opted to let the Jaeger program slide instead of doing the sensible thing in making more powerful Jaegers and have instead opted to build giant walls. I can’t seriously believe that they would have dedicated their resources to the walls. There don’t even seem to be any defensive weaponry associated with these walls and as the movie proves, they’re comically ineffective. What did the world leaders think would ultimately happen when they had all the walls built? The monsters would die of boredom on the other side?
If anything, I’d have thought they would have invested in more powerful smaller craft as the first Kaiju were taken down by the conventional military (albeit at a great cost); it seemingly could be done. It’s not like these creatures have Godzilla’s G cells which make him almost impervious to any conventional attack. Regardless, that would invalidate the whole core concept of the film, so it’s pretty easy to just roll with it.
The pilots of the mech suits are pretty cool and the only one I had any problem with was the Australian Jaeger pilot, Chuck Hansen, does the whole alpha male ego trip thing that felt better suited to an 80s movie about skiing than this flick. Speaking of the pilots, I wish there had been more scenes with the Russian and Chinese pilots.
One forgivable aspect of the film is that the answer to where these monsters are coming from and why is completely predictable. If you’re looking for something new in that department, prepare to be disappointed. It works for the film, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done many times before.
The only other issue I had with Pacific Rim was that it left me wanting more battles! Yes, there are a good amount of monster or Kaiju battles in the film, but damn the scenes were so exciting and… get this… I could actually tell what the fuck was going on that it left me wanting so much more! And that’s the real tragedy of this film, it leaves you wanting more of what makes it great, but the chances are that there may not be a sequel or four like the horrible Transformers movies got. The tragedy.
Speaking of Pacific Rim sequels if one never happens, let me put this idea out there: There needs to be a Jaeger that’s piloted by Charlie Day and part of the brain of a Kaiju for the ultimate mecha-Kaiju. Call it Rat Basher Omega and arm it with a giant bat covered in barb wire. I’d pay two tickets to see that.
Also, I wanted to do a Joe Bob Briggs wrap up, because this movie deserves one:
Cargo ship to the skull
Robot arms roll
Monster heads roll
2 nuclear explosions
Four stars, Vincent says check it out.