I’ve had it with giant robots. When the trailer for Pacific Rim came out, everyone else said: “OMG awesome!” and I said: “Oh Christ, not another epic smashfest.” I didn’t want to go, but the only other movie coming out was Grown Ups 2 *gag*. My brother said Pacific Rim was amazing, but my brother likes Transformers. What I needed was a hint of the real story.
A washed up ex-giant robot pilot who has lost his partner is called back in the last desperate days of the war to help seal the rift alien monsters are using to invade the Pacific Ocean.
I’m all about character and story, not big mindless battles in 3D, so I went to the 2D show of Pacific Rim expecting it to be another Transformers. What I got was more like Wing Commander, which was awesome because although Wing Commander isn’t perfect, it’s got something that draws me in. Pacific Rim isn’t perfect either, but it does have that something.
One of my big questions from the Pacific Rim trailer was: why do they need two pilots if there’s only one robot (or Jaeger, as they’re called)? They answered my question in the intro: because the strain of linking with the Jaeger is too much for one brain. They need two people, and more importantly, two who trust each other enough to ‘drift’ through each others’ memories and feelings. Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) has that with his brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff), and together they control an Alaskan Jaeger named Gipsy Danger.
Don’t die horribly and leave me traumatized, okay Yancy?
Raleigh and Yancy are sent out to deal with an invading Kaiju (giant Godzilla-like monster). It’s bigger and more powerful than a regular one, so it kicks their asses and eats Yancy, leaving Raleigh to stagger back to shore alone in Gipsy Danger, which isn’t supposed to be possible. Now I’m hooked. Not by the robot battle, which was pretty cool, but by Raleigh. I care about him.
Help… dying of… sadness…
Fast forward a few years. The Jaeger program is defunct and Raleigh is a homeless welder working on the giant walls that are supposed to keep the monsters away. They, of course, do not work and the world’s on the brink of being destroyed. Raleigh’s old boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) wants Raleigh to come back, take a new partner, and be a part of their last push in the handful of Jaegers that are left.
We’ve got something in common, son. Our moms both had a major grudge against naming conventions.
Raleigh goes to Hong Kong where he meets the other crews: the trio of identical Chinese men who pilot the Crimson Typhoon (Charles, Lance, and Mark Luu), a sibling pair of hilarious Russian caricatures straight out of a Rocky movie (Robert Maillet and Heather Doerksen) who pilot Cherno Alpha, and the Australian father/son team from Striker Eureka, Herc and Chuck Hansen (Max Martini and Robert Kazinski), the latter of whom was apparently redirected straight from playing the ass**** sports opponent in a kids’ movie.
Just to make it even more ridiculous, ass**** Chuck looks just like Raleigh,
so it’s almost like he’s fighting himself.
Raleigh starts testing out candidates for a new partner, which for some reason involves fighting them with sticks. He wants Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), the Japanese scientist leading the reconstruction effort, but she’s traumatized too and their combined horrible memories might rip a hole in the space time continuum (or something).
You know, Mako, you’re taller in person. Not by much, but taller.
Eventually of course their magnetism cannot be denied and they partner up to kick some monster ass. I appreciated that the movie makers took some time off from giant monster fights to develop Raleigh and Mako’s friendship, but I’m glad that they didn’t try to push it into a romance because they didn’t take THAT much time. There wasn’t even enough time to develop most of the other characters into anything other than one-dimensional placeholders (the eccentric scientist, the big bad leader, the jerkwad who gives the hero a hard time, etc).
I can’t help noticing that I’m the only woman in this movie. Wanna make out?
And then they moved on to giant monster/robot battles. I have to admit they were pretty cool. They had a rousing battle anthem and the robots looked different enough that the action didn’t get too confusing. They even threw in a few moves that were more interesting than “punch monster in face repeatedly like mad barfight instigator.”
This may not have been our brightest idea. Oooooooh craaaaaap…..
Still, I couldn’t help thinking practical thoughts like: how can Gipsy go underwater when she has a giant fan on her chest? And: they must have to repave the streets after every time one of these things walks by! Also, if the war has been going on for years, why the f*** haven’t all these people moved away from the coast?
All we are say-ing, is give peace a chance!
So Pacific Rim was exciting and I cared about the main characters but I didn’t love it. I could have, but I felt like the movie was being dragged down by an undercurrent of ridiculousness. The characters’ names were almost all stupid comic-book creations despite the fact that Pacific Rim is not based on a comic book. The two scientists, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Dr Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) were a panicky, squeaky-voiced lunatic and a pompous British killjoy respectively and both of them hammed it up like there was no tomorrow.
There were also a lot of silly moments thrown into the action, like an utterly ridiculous scene where a giant robot is pushed so far into an office building that it sets someone’s perpetual motion machine going on their desk. The movie also habitually changes its own world rules and ignores the laws of physics when spectacle demands it, switching from cloning to mammalian reproduction, allowing strangers to drift with one another, casting aside the rules for what can and can’t go through the rift, and insinuating that a robot standing 100ft away from a nuclear explosion wouldn’t be turned into dust and ashes.
Guys, we sent 400 helicopters to back you up. They all missed you.
Sorry, we thought it would look more dramatic if they flew over your heads instead of helping you.
With one more pass on the script, Pacific Rim could have been perfect. As it is, I merely really like it, which is a major feat considering I expected it to be stupid. So if you’ve been having doubts about whether or not you should see it, I hope my experience helps you make up your mind. For the record, I think you should go. I wouldn’t bother with the 3D, though. I saw it in 2D and didn’t notice its absence.