Pacific Rim 3D Movie Review
Giant robots and Godzilla movie rejects? Sign me up!
It is rare that a movie trailer gets me excited to see the actual movie. I see so many of them (and usually the same ones over and over again) that they tend to loose all impact. They usually to do one of two things for me: either they help me compose a mental shopping list of upcoming things to see or perform the same function as my doctor telling me in excruciating and graphic detail (with visual aids) exactly what to expect during my upcoming colonoscopy during a big anesthesia shortage. Basically a list of upcoming work and/or unbearable dread.
This film broke that mold in that every time I saw it I got more excited to see it. I mean, it’s a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots! Based on that description alone I could be suffering from simultaneous projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea and I would still enjoy it (I can’t really say how the other audience members would feel in those circumstances however). I mean, how badly can you screw up giant monsters and robots?
Well, yes. Gozilla 1999 and most of Transformers. I suppose it can be done. However, I have faith in Guillermo del Toro. This is the man who did Hellboy, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Megamind, and Pan’s Labyrinth. Some of these movies might not have gotten critical acclaim, but they rank up there as personal favorites. My faith in him was justified in this movie.
I don’t want to say this film is the Citizen Kane of science fiction films. It was chock full of plot holes, scientific “facts” that would have my eighth grade science teacher beating his fists raw against the wall in frustration, and acting so robotic I was partially convinced the actors were miniature Jaegers with tiny humans inside controlling them. In a film that wasn’t about giant robots and monsters this would have been the equivalent of a cow walking up to me in a slaughterhouse and handing me a sledgehammer. However, if you are going to this film for the story, scientific content, or acting you must be the type to order a lobster at a restaurant and proceed to eat only the shell. I was also comforted by the fact that every time I thought to myself “Wow this acting is wooden” or “CO2 slows down acidic reactions???” in a few minutes I was going to see giant robots fighting giant monsters.
The good news is I don’t have to worry too much about spoilers as if you have seen the trailer and have an IQ in the mid-80s you should be able to discern the entirety of the plot as the opening monolog is rolling out. That being said SPOILER ALERT. I was pleased during this film as it game me a chance to practice my burgeoning powers of psychic precognition. As soon as I saw that the first Jaeger pilots were two brothers I said “One of these two guys is going to get killed and the new pilot the surviving brother has to team up with will be a hot chick” and by Nostradamus’s sack was it so! A while later when I realized the only black guy in the whole movie was a retired Jaeger pilot I said “Yep. That guy is going to have to come out of retirement at some point and will end up sacrificing himself for the greater good” and once again gave myself a gold star for pattern recognition.
Because I enjoyed this film a lot I am not going to harp on the bad science and plot holes, but I have a few questions that kept popping into my head. The main one was are the Jaegers piloted by neural interface or not? They spent a ton of time talking about it and how the two pilots “drift” into each others memories and minds in order to control the Jaeger (and how it is almost impossible and brain damaging to try to pilot one solo) yet they spend the entire time in the Jaegers strapped into full body analog controls. What’s the deal here? Also, if the aliens want to conquer the planet why do they keep sending the big monsters through one at a time? I’m no brilliant tactician but it seems the trick would be to save up like 20 of them and send them through at the same time.
How does the scientist guy keep a monster brain chunk alive in a tank for months and connect his brain to it and then 30 minutes later be presented with a very recently killed intact brain and tell everyone they have five minutes until the brain is too dead to connect to? For that matter why does he act like monster samples (for the record the monsters are called kaiju) are rarer than a piece of the true cross when each one weighs a couple thousand tons and they have killed dozens of them? They should be up to their giant robot asses in kaiju parts. Why would the military opt to abandon the Jaeger program just because they are losing a few? Why not build bigger and better Jaegers? Or for that matter more of them? Instead of sending one Jaeger out after one big kaiju why not send out like 10? And their plan is to defend the world with a giant wall? How does that kill kaiju’s? You see this is one of those situation where the great military/industrial complex would actually be to our benefit. Why do jet pilots feel the best way to kill a kaiju is to fly into tentacle range? How did the commander keep the Jaegers running after he got his funding cut? Those things do not look cheap to keep fueled.
For that matter how does a local crime lord have the resources to harvest a kaiju faster than the military, as well as more knowledge of kaiju’s than the world’s leading scientist? Also last time I look the Pacific Ocean was thousands of miles across, yet as soon as they detect a kaiju at the breach they have like five minutes before it gets to a big city. I understand that the cities on the Pacific Rim are the ones being attacked, but other than that the movie really had no reason to be called Pacific Rim. Also if kaiju only attack cities on the Pacific Rim why doesn’t everyone just leave? Personally I would be parked on the right side of the Rocky Mountains.
Ok, I feel better for getting that out. Let’s get into the movie, shall we?
The film starts off with a monolog explaining how giant monsters come through the breach on the floor of the Pacific and attacking cities. In order to beat them we had to make giant robots. Skip forward a few years and Jaeger pilots Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam-Sons of Anarchy, Cold Mountain, Deadfall) and Yancy Beckett (Diego Klattenhoff-After Earth, Unconditional, Falling Skies) go into battle against a biggun and more or less get their asses handed to them. Yancy dies. Skip forward five more years and Raleigh has quit the Jaeger program and now works on the big wall that is supposed to save us. He gets recruited back into the program by Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba-RocknRolla, 28 Days Later, Pandora) and meets the only female in the film Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi-the Brothers Bloom, the Sky Crawlers, Norwegian Wood). He needs to be paired up with a partner and after a long and pretty unnecessary selection process (in spite of needing to fight together it all boils down to a fight against each other) ends up paired with Mako. Meanwhile dorky scientists Newt (Charlie Day-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses, Monsters University) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman-Layer Cake, Torchwood, the Dark Knight Rises) argue about which scientific approach to take. Gottlieb thinks the magical power of statistics will do something while Newt wants to hook his brain to one of the kaiju.
Mako bones up the first test run in the Jaeger and they get taken off duty. The plan is to sneak a nuke into the breach and blow it up from the other side. Two huge kaiju attack and kill two of the four remaining Jaegers and disable a third one. Mako and Raleigh jump in the last one and save the day. At that point Stacker climbs into his Jaeger for his meet with destiny and he and the other Jaeger grind the story to an ending so pat and happy it’s at Cheese Level Limburger.
Duh. Giant robots fighting giant monsters. Three stars. The Jaegers were so freaking awesome the only way they could have been cooler would be if they each had giant breasts and created deep fried bacon wraps as a waste byproduct. (Bacon image courtesy of the funny t shirt category). I know what I’m building first after I conquer this pathetic planet. Two stars. The kaiju are also extremely cool. One star. The action was super good. If there is any move better than hitting a monster in the head with a cargo ship I don’t know what it is. Two stars. Pacing was generally good. One star. Film work and CGI were great. Two stars. The crime lord in charge of the black market kaiju parts was Ron M-F-ing Perlman. One star. Total: twelve stars.
The black holes.
This film suffered from the same issue that continues to plague the Transformers series and that is too much humans, not enough robots kicking ass. One black hole. That laundry list of questions I had a few paragraphs ago, plus another science fiction movie that treats science like fiction. Two black holes. The Jaegers generally emoted more than the humans. One black hole. The story was about as predictable as watching the floor lights light up sequentially on an elevator ride, and if it weren’t for the whole robots/monsters thing would have been painfully cliche. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
A total of seven stars. A decent score, but honestly it and my recommendation are completely irrelevant. If you think giant robots and monsters are cool you will go see this and love it. If you want character arcs, complex stories, and human actors you will not. Go with your instinct when you first saw the trailer. I will say this movie absolutely needs to be seen on the biggest screen you can find, so don’t wait for it to come out on DvD or NetFlix. Date movie? For the love of all that is holy no. If you don’t go see this with a bunch of your guy friends and then go home and play manly video games and drink beer afterward check under your pillow to see if the Testicle Fairy left you a pair of quarters. Bathroom break? Any of the scenes with just humans in it are fair game. I think the couple of scenes where Raleigh tries to convince Stacker that Mako is not incompetent are particularly good.
Thanks for reading. I won’t be doing much for the next couple weeks as I have a big Warhammer tournament this weekend, Comic Con next weekend (and the week leading up), and a business trip right after that. I will be posting notes and images from Comic Con on my Twitter account so follow me @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments on this film or my review feel free to post them here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com. Talk to you soon.