Aliens, giant robots (mecha), end-of the world setting, and some good ole’ WWE-style slams – should be a perfect recipe for a summer blockbuster, right? Maybe, maybe not.
Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth fame) co-wrote this action-packed movie with Travis Beacham. However, it looks like most of the writing was done by the mecha themselves. Despite its flaws, the movie is entertaining and is aimed for the masses.
The movie opens with a grand narration by the hero – Raleigh Becket (and the names get progressively worse from here) – who gives us the mental equivalent of Pacific Rim’s prequel in 20 minutes. I might have missed something but I thought that the prologue would have made a great movie itself – Kaijus (read: Giant effin’ monsters aka Godzilla; the word is Japanese for ‘giant beast’) have invaded Earth through a trans-dimensional portal deep in the Pacific Ocean and are systematically wiping out the world’s population. In the meantime, all efforts to defend humanity are naught and it takes years before a viable solution is found – 250-foot humanoid robots or mecha called jaegers (German for ‘hunters’). This, in itself could have been a prequel to Pacific Rim. It’s like if the Wachowski brothers released ‘The Matrix: Reloaded’ before ‘The Matrix’.
I think that the character development was a little bland. There is nothing keeping the viewers tied to the actors’ fates. Even the most developed character – of that of Mako Mori – fails to deliver the kind of emotional connectivity that’ll make one care for her fate. The lead, Raleigh, is the stereotypical Caucasian hero with a ‘Top Gun’-style discipline issues. There is the stoic leader in Marshal Stacker Pentecost (gosh, these names!) who has the expression capacity of Cher. There’s also the ever-present jock/bully who hates the hero…and a dog. In short, it has all the ingredients of an alien-apocalypse movie.
Of course aliens, two heroes saving the world, the leader strapping himself into the cockpit in the last fight, nuclear warheads, last-minute escapes, and inspirational speeches have never been done before in a single movie. Oh, wait! I forgot ‘Independence Day’ came out eons ago.
Anyway the Kaijus are pretty much destroying everything that stands in their way. The first massive metal vs monster fight is within the first 30 minutes and is set within the Pacific Ocean. And it delivers.
If there is one thing that works with this movie, it is that there is no dearth of power-slams. As a WWE fan, I appreciate two behemoths tossing each other like tonka toys; and what’s better than Godzilla vs Optimus Prime?
If you’re looking for an action-packed wrestling match, with lots of destruction, and great CGFX, Man of Steel, Transformers, etc Pacific Rim is definitely for you. Despite its obvious flaws, discussed below, I liked the movie and would go with 3.5 out of 5 for it. It’s fun to watch, yet a little disappointing for hardcore fans of the genre.
Attention: Spoilers Below!!
Now let’s discuss the various problems/flaws I noticed in the movie. Because, after all, who does not like picking a movie apart by the seams until it makes the satisfying ripping sound.
1. Technology – For a movie based on advanced technology, with the pinnacle of weapons tech in jaegers, the mecha themselves are ridiculously under-armed. They are nothing more than giant metal monstrosities with a few missiles, a plasma cannon, and a sword. It’s not surprising then that most jaegers are destroyed by the first 30 min of the film and pilots have to mostly improvise in the fight. Really, guys?! Even Power Ranger have more weps on their robos. Hell, Inspector Gadget had more tech on him – he could even fly! And let’s not even go into Transformers or Iron Man.
2. Names – What happened to traditional names like Ryan, Kevin, Jamie, etc? With names like Yancy, Stacker, Raleigh it seems Kanye West named these characters. As for jaeger names, it seems like a pimp from a stripper-club named them – Gipsy Danger and Crimson Typhoon. Yech!
3. Ignore Laws of Physics – I mean, I can give a free ride on this one because most sci-fic movies take the laws of physics as general guidelines. However, there are some things that can’t be explained away even with a “It’s a sci-fic, alien movie, dude!”. Things like a ~200 megaton nuclear warhead going off in the Pacific Ocean and not causing any damage; a dinosaur climbing to 50,000ft in a matter of seconds; a mech dropping from the same height and surviving; the dino’s bits falling from the same height and being salvageable; and many more. The biggest affront to physics is the next point, though.
4. It’s Analog! – Oh, you know that big, 250-feet, monstrous metal robo? Yeah, the one that has holographic systems, computers that mind-link, can send/receive signals through dimensions, and can be monitored/controlled remotely can’t be effected by an EMP. Oh, and the EMP? That’s emitted by an organic creature (okay, okay, it’s an alien). Hell, Toro could have used Battlestar Gallactica’s cop-out and still remained true to its idea. But to call a jaeger analog is to call J.A.R.V.I.S an abacus.
5. It’s been done before, guys – Pacific Rim is a movie that has combined so many movies/TV shows that it isn’t even funny. Top Gun, Independence Day, Godzilla, Transformers, Battlestar Gallactica, Power Rangers, Inception are just a few that come to mind. The standard “inspirational pre-final battle speech” was so Independence Day, I groaned out-loud.
All in all, I liked the movie. It was entertaining and, if you ignored its blatant errors, works as a summer blockbuster. If you don’t ignore them, though, it is not surprising why ‘Grown Ups-2’ and ‘Despicable Me 2’ thrashed it in the Box-Office.
Served with a pinch of salt and a hint of lemon by,