Pacific Rim Reviews
Perhaps the coolest thing about the film is that the robots can only be programmed by two people through the process of mind-melding, which literally connects two people through their minds, memories, and thoughts. In other words, finding the right co-pilot requires mutual trust, respect, and friendship. This dramatic stuff is what Del Toro excels at, and while the script glosses over a lot of potential character development that could have been explored in greater detail in relation to this concept, he knows how to get his actors to communicate feelings with subtlety. The robot designs look great and their slow movements mimic a sense of realism in relation to their size. Some of the monsters look a little goofy, suggesting that this material may have been better served in the anime format, but Pacific Rim kick starts a potential franchise about as good as Man of Steel and Avatar respectively did. Only time will tell if the masses agree.
Mission status: a crack or trench has emerged on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, some kind of portal to another dimension it seems. From this hellish region came the kaiju, huge monsters that have slowly ripped through our civilisation bringing us to our knees (but only in countries around the Pacific? what about Europe? they OK?). To combat this invasion humans build the Jaegers (why are they called this?), colossal robot mecha piloted by two humans, and for a time all was good. But the alien creatures appeared more frequently and became stronger, they started to defeat human defenses, so in a clever decision human leaders decide to scrap the Jaegers and build big walls...yeah that'll work.
Only then does one man come up with the sheer genius idea of dropping a nuke down the portal to try and break the connection between dimensions...seriously no one thought of this when the whole issue cropped up??. Nope they thought it easier to build implausibly massive robots and then big walls. Wouldn't the robots presumably take yonks to build?...in the mean time the monsters destroy humanity?. Oh and did anyone ever actually stop to think if these colossal time consuming constructions would actually have any effect on the monsters at all?? doesn't the whole thing seem like a colossal gamble??...meh maybe its just me then.
Now I will start off by admitting I obviously know what this film is aiming for, its a complete fantasy thrill ride and basically wants to show off big robots fighting big monsters, I see that. The film is a homage whilst at the same time being somewhat of a hyper B-movie in the same vain as 'Independence Day' was. There is a semi serious take to everything but at the same time its a hokey rollercoaster sci-fi ride that delivers exactly what you'd expect, exactly what you pay for and it doesn't try to hide that fact. In short if you go into this wanting a serious realistic approach then you're not gonna get on with this...but we all know this right?.
The whole notion isn't exactly original lets face it, the usual mankind on the brink of destruction by an unknown alien force, this alien force has no real intentions other than to wipe us out and move on to the next world (heard that before right), time to call in the buff heroes who swagger a lot. As the film started I did find myself enjoying it, the giant mechs look good if somewhat stupid at the same time and the white mechanical suits worn by the pilots were super cool and much better than the black suits later on. I loved the detail on the suits as the pilots locked into them, really well done and I loved the massive scale of detail on the Jaeger hangers/command base. There is so much going on, clearly a lot of attention to small details with different types of personnel, equipment, machinery etc...It really feels like they have tried to create a full universe where everything has its place, everything can be explained, everything links to something and is functional. At no point did I ever see anything that I felt was just there to look good, everything seemed to have a purpose.
As time went by I started to grow slightly bored, there is character development and dialog/backstory but its dull, the characters aren't really very interesting to be honest and pretty much everyone acted really really badly. Why on earth they cast the folk they did I don't know, I liked how most of the cast were unknowns (to me) so kudos for trying that because its normally the best option. But Hunnam was awful and merely tried his best to be the new ' LT Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell', Kikuchi was the worst of the lot and appeared to have no acting skills at all plus she was really annoying and Elba seems to have this aura about him at the moment where everybody thinks he's the best thing since sliced bread for some reason (Cumberbatch much?). The other cast members were very hammy, did the scientist guys really need to be such stereotypical nerd-like goofballs?. Oh and its a del Toro film, this means Perlman is in there no matter what...basically playing Hellboy without the makeup.
Then we came to the crux of the film, what its all about, fighting big monsters...big errr neon monsters, why did they go down 'The Phantom Menace' route?. Yep I can't deny the fights at first were pretty cool, I was interested in the big flashy CGI...but only for a while. After I had seen the first couple fights the later ones became very similar and uneventful. I have to say I didn't really like most of the monster designs as they all looked a bit 'Star Wars prequel-ish', I don't understand the obsession with blue neon these days, at times the fights just looked like a big dark, wet, strategically lit CGI cluster (why no daytime fights?? what happened to the daytime??) and the giant mechs were just completely daft. When one pulled out a giant sword from nowhere just because one of the pilots happened to have a thing for katanas (she's Japanese so of course she does)...I groaned.
What I can't get my head around is the fact these mechs move the way they do, because they wouldn't. Yep I know its not meant to be taken seriously but really! these things would be so heavy and slow, one movement would probably take ages yet these things run and move like a regular human! and then there are the silly little moments like making the mech slam its hands together in a martial arts stance before battle...really? you'd probably damage your mech doing that. I'm also pretty sure most of these monsters would be much more agile and faster than the mechs and would defeat them easily everytime. If the creatures are of reasonable intelligence I'm sure they would see a punch/hit coming a mile off. The mechs are powerful but (would/should be) too slow, it would take time to do things and then reset.
Also the idea that the pilots control them by being hooked up to each other via the brain seems soooooo unbelievably risky and unstable, god knows what you'd find out about the other guy, doesn't matter how well you know him/her. Wouldn't it be more sensible to make the controls more open for more potential pilots? surely doing it this way is just restricting yourself big time, you know there will be problems in the future with numbers through death, just seems idiotic. I must say I did like the cockpit interior though, a mass of LCD HUDs in various colours which looked both impossibly confusing yet ultra slick and cool, unsure how the hell those guys could see anything out of their windscreen though.
Their movements would cause tonnes of destruction in itself just by walking, wouldn't dropping into the ocean, walking and fighting in the ocean cause tsunami's?. When they fight a monster in Hong Kong I'm pretty sure they caused massive amounts of damage just walking through the city, then we have the 'Man of Steel' issue, why didn't they try and move the fight out of the city?. Yes I'm being picky but these things are obvious.
There aren't many fights actually believe it or not, the film is quite dull whilst you wait for the fights but then once you've seen one darkly lit battle with mechs stomping around you've seen them all. But I must ask why the monsters never seem to attack any military bases where the mechs are stored? or why the monsters didn't try and destroy the mechs whilst in construction? that would have been easy no?
But despite all that the film is a comic book-like monster mash so you gotta put all that aside, if you can. The film is a well constructed homage to the cult genre and it does it proud I can't deny, but for everyone else not overly involved in this genre it really does play out like yet another factory line CGI stuffed Hollywood blockbuster production. Having del Toro at the helm has certainly given the film an edge in the visual department, mainly sets and monsters wise but that doesn't really alter the fact its no surprise this didn't do as well as expected. Is it possible the idea of Godzilla type monsters, big robots and even more destruction porn turned people off? doesn't bode well for the Godzilla reboot.
Its big, its loud and its flashy, its actually a complete rip off from the 80's cartoon 'Inhumanoids' to a degree (look it up kids). Why did the pilots require that intense martial arts sparring training? how did that have anything to do with what they actually had to do? is this because the mechs are suppose to be able to perform martial arts just like their pilots? or was it just a chance to sneak in an obligatory sexy martial arts sequence just for the hell of it?...hmmm for shame Guillermo.
It makes Transformers look like The Godfather!
And I HATE Transformers.
This is a tremendously fun homage to Japanese culture, primarily giant monster movies and anime, but there's homages to other monsters and genre luminaries as well.
Set in the near future, Earth is being devastated by giant monsters called Kaiju who emerge from an interdimensional portal located deep in the Pacific Ocean. After conventional warfare proves ineffective, the various nations of Earth unite to create giant robots called Jaegers to combat the beastly threat. The Jaegers are controlled simultaneously by two (or more) pilots who are connected by a neural bridge that forces them to share one another's thoughts and fears, forcing them to work together.
After a prologue that sets all this up, the film jumps ahead a few years near the end of the ongoing war. Things are taking a turn for the worse for the human forces, with the Kaiju attacks happening more frequently, and by stronger and stronger monsters each time. A washed up pilot is called out of retirement and is paired up with a strong but untested rookie to dust off a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger in a last ditch effort to win the war for good.
While there is some depth and substance going on here, namely with the idea of the neural link (referred to in the film as "drifting"), this film is, above all, supposed to be a fun, epic, popcorn sci-fi action romp in the truest sense of the word.
And it doesn't disappoint. The film is a wonderful homage to things past, and, while it does traffic in cliches and stock characters, there's just enough of a creative spin to keep things fresh and interesting, and help set this film up as both a tribute and it's own entry into the cannon of similar films.
Unlike many recent summer blockbuster films, this is not a pretentious, dour, work of art that probably takes itself a little too seriously. It's bright, colorful, creative, and a lot of fun. Sure, there are serious moments, and it kinda gets dark at times, but it's never heavy handed, nor is it too self aware either.
While watching this, I found myself either with a big dumb grin on my face, or had my jaw on the floor in awe of how awesome this spectacle was. It is a lot of fun, and the action and ideas are all executed marvelously. As I said, the film does traffic in cliches, but only a couple of times did I roll my eyes at them in a way which could be considered negative (mostly with the dopey science guys trying to be hip). Also, the subplot with the science geeks at first seemed to be unnecessary, but it eventually worked itself out and made it's point (and potential for sequels) known. So, I'll dock it a little bit for my initial reaction, but not too much sense it does come full circle. Also, I think they could have focused on/dealt with the "drifting" concept even more. I mean, they do deal with it, but I think they could have played around with it further, and really gave it more bearing on the actions of the pilots and whatnot.
I think that had there really not been any subplot or diversions the film may have been better, but at least the filmmakers had the good sense to keep this kind of thing under control, unlike Mr. Bay and HIS brand of giant robots.
While there is some depth, ideas, and mini character arcs and development, the main driving force is the action spectacle, and that's where this film truly shines. The action scenes are appropriately epic, generally coherent and easy to follow (for the most part), and really get the blood pumping with excitement and suspense.
The effects here are awesome, and I liked how a lot of this was a mix of CG and practical effects. Sometimes its hard to tell when what type of technique was being used, and that made me happy. The designs of the Kaiju and Jaegers are pretty neat, and I loved (in general) the bright and colorful art direction, set design, and visual scheme. This might be a fun film to watch while high.
The acting is slightly better than average for this type of film, and the roles were well cast. I liked Charlie Hunnam as the has-been seeking redemption, and he has pretty good chemistry with Rinko Kikuchi's rookie pilot. Idris Elba is fine as the gruff commander, and it made me happy to see Clifton Collins Jr. as a tech guy, as well as Charlie Day as one of the science nerds. Ron Perlman also shows up, and, while his character's inclusion isn't the most necessary, it's still fun to see him chew the scenery.
Moving at a brisk pace, and knowing exactly what type of movie it is and is trying to be, Pacific Rim is a bad ass thrill ride that I strongly recommend.