The Sunday Film Review: Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro (2013)
High School Jock #1: ‘How’d the date with unrealistically attractive preppy cheerleader go?’
High School Jock #2 ‘Got all the way to Pacific Rim, oh yeah!
The two high-five
Promiscuous Female in Slasher Movie: ‘Yeah baby, in my Pacific Rim’
Moments later Promiscuous Female is hacked to pieces by masked male murderer
Angry Army Sergeant: ‘Pull that again private and my foot will be go far up your Pacific Rim your momma won’t wanna kiss it better’
Private eventually wins Sergeants respect with acts of valour
Prime Minister David ‘kill kill kill the poor’ Cameron: ‘As ‘your’ elected Prime Minister I want what’s best for all’
General populace: ‘Stop talking out your Pacific Rim David, your party didn’t even get a majority vote’
There I was, all ready to dismiss Pacific Rim as a film with poorest thought out title since Deep Impact, when something strange happened; People with opinions I actually respect started praising the damn thing. Then people whose opinions I don’t really care about started slating the damn thing, then a filmmaker friend by the name of Ryan J Finnigan typed this on The Asylum knock-off version of the damn thing. Finally, I decided I could wait another week before following up my Batman 66 review with Batman 1989 in order to jump on the bandwagon.
The premise behind anal penetration Pacific Rim is admittedly pretty awesome. The first five minutes are a montage which reads as such; Aliens decided to invade earth, but instead of expensive space travel, they opted for the relatively cheap route of genetically engineering a huge monster (emphasise on huge). They sent said huge monster through a conveniently placed portal in the Pacific Ocean. Not being up to date on huge monster sci-fi, and therefore not expecting a huge monster to rise out of the ocean (watch Cloverfield people, it’ll teach you all you need to know), quite a few lives were lost in the resulting rampage.
Inevitably though, a combination of tanks, airplanes and heavy ordinance won the day and the huge monster was brought down. A while later and a second, slightly different huge monster appeared, this too was brought down, then a third struck and so on. It reached the point where humanity became quite confident at fighting huge alien monsters, and relaxed enough to give the monsters a Japanese word for a name; Kaiju, which translates as beast, strange creature and/or monster. In response to the ‘Kaiju’ threat, the governments of the world ‘united’, the concept of a ‘united world’ isn’t really explained in any depth, but I’m assuming it means countries actually started listening to International laws and stopped killing each other for oil or religious claims to land etc….. kind of like what John Lennon imagined.
What happened next is a little sketchy, but it went something like this: someone with power and influence watched Power Rangers: suddenly tanks, airplanes and heavy ordinance didn’t seem cool anymore. Pilot operated giant robots on the other hand, they were the future. Thus the Jaegers, (which is actually meant to be written as jäger, the German word for hunter), giant robots the size of skyscrapers, were produced. The catch though, was giant mechanised robots were far too awesome for one person to operate so a dual pilot system was developed. One pilot would take the right side, the other the left. How do they manage to ensure the two pilots move in sync you may ask? ‘Years of practice and training’, the person watching you from outside your window may answer………..They’re wrong. Instead the pilots are telepathically linked using machines with wires and plugs and all that matrix stuff.
If you’ve kept up then, explorative sex Pacific Rim is the story of dual piloted giant robots fighting genetically engineered colossus alien monsters, and that’s only the first five minutes!
The actual story (and that word is used loosely) part of specific point of penetration Pacific Rim introduces Raleigh (Charlie Hunman) and Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) Beckett, two brothers who happen to be Jaeger pilots. It turned out whoever watched Power Rangers was right, and giant mechanised death robots were cool, so cool that jaeger pilots are the new celebrities popular enough to get away with murder, soliciting prostitution and substance abuse. Though undeniably Jaeger pilots have gone more the ‘home grown Olympian’ approach to celebrity, so despite an overinflated sense of self-worth and a deluge of tweets, are relatively bearable, even at times admirable.
Raleigh and Yancy’s overinflated sense of self-worth turns to tragedy when they disobey the orders of commanding officer Stacker Pentecost (Idris ‘Stringer Bell’ Elba, can’t wait to see him play Mr Nelson Mandela) and attempt to save the lives of some hapless fishermen caught by a Kaiju…………… yup, it’s that sort of a film. The result is Yancy’s death, which is a shame, because of the two, he seemed the one more likely to portray genuine human emotions, or be in any way interesting as a character.
Fast forward a few years and Raleigh has taken the death of his brother so badly, he’s spent years working on a wall. The wall’s significant because as the Kaiju became more adept at fighting jaegers, humanity decided a giant wall was a boring yet cheaper way to deal with the threat than death robots. It was at this point I stopped rooting for a humanity victory. Then some things happen, Luther Stacker Pentecost asks Raleigh to return to the Jaeger project and a horde of one dimensional stereotypes get introduced.
Rinko Kikuchi plays love interest Mako Mori, who gets along well with Raleigh once she discovers he can speak Japanese, but eventually reverts to speaking English in a horribly stereotypical accent, I guess because that’s the language none existent God wants humanity to speak. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman play two scientist dudes who annoyed the hell out of me to begin with but somehow transitioned into heart-warming comic relief. Robert Kazinsky plays a jock from an Australian high-school movie who adds nothing to the film, and alongside him Max Martini plays an Australian as seen in Crocodile Dundee. Elsewhere Clifton Collins, who once appeared as a Vegan Policeman in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, appears as a generic scientist guy, and Ron ‘war, war never changes……………..yes, yes it does actually’ Perlman plays a war profiteer black market dude with gold shoes.
Finally, in a move that would automatically add a star if I did star ratings (which I don’t, complex wannabe indie filmmaker opinions cannot simply be expressed numerically), Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS in Portal, the greatest game ever made, provides the voice of a robotic system the Jaegers operate.
Plot summary ends.
Pacific Rim is the story of two halves, one half is named Action, the other everything else. I’ll start with the latter.
With a couple of notable exceptions, the acting in sensitive area Pacific Rim is poor, the problem is most of the characters are bland, one dimensional stereotypes. The Australian dudes are the most obvious example of this, but it’s the lead character, Raleigh, that particularly got on my nerves. Raleigh Beckett is one of the blandest, shallowest leads in history. He literally does nothing save walk around in a bland malaise. My brother got killed in a horrific accident so I’ll just go work on a wall, guys at work are dissing me so I’ll just walk away from them, some of the greatest Jaeger pilots in the world are right next to me so I’ll just sit here at this table and eat some lunch, wouldn’t want to chat to them or anything. He does get in one fight, but that’s only because the Australian jock called his nearly girlfriend a bitch and he wants an apology. In film terms, that’s villain twirling his moustache while declaring he wants to take over the world level of characterisation and depth. Then there are the stupid arsehole moments, like a pilot of a Jaeger, a machine primarily built for close combat, forgetting his vehicle has a sword.
I’m not sure how much of this is Charlie Hunmans fault, the script isn’t exactly strong in the dialogue department, but whoever thought what the action world really needed was another lead whose voice sounds like Tome Waits had a romantic rendezvous with throat cancer in a darkened alley needs banning from film for life.
Away from the acting, the ‘story’ is one of incredible convenience. The Aliens just happen to release their genetic monsters in a predictable way, there just happens to be a ranking system that the alien monsters conform to, an explosion at the right time will just happen to………. You get the picture. There’s no depth or shades of grey anywhere, there isn’t really a value placed on human life, considering how quickly some characters are disposed of, and how little time (none at all in most cases) is spent lamenting death and reflecting on the perils of mortality. Also in the entire film, there’s like one female character, one, and all she does is follow the orders of men.
But then we come to the action, ha ha butt sex Pacific Rim is predominantly an action film, and to borrow a phrase from my geeky subconscious mind, the action is pretty hype. Followable and epic, the battles are………… wonderful, truly wonderful. The scale of the action is ambitious and yet it really, really works. I could follow exactly what was going on in each fight, and yet had no idea where each one was heading, I watched intrigued as my childhood dreams of giant robots and monsters were realised on screen, and I really got into it. Every swing, every bite, every crunch as something flew into a building, it conjured images of a young me twirling sticks and imagining the exact same thing. Then I turned 25 and decided it was time to stop such silly games.
I already knew Guillermo del Toro was a fine filmmaker, and while Pacific Rim isn’t a particularly fine film, as a spectacle it’s up there with the best I’ve seen, the camerawork, the scope, the visuals, they’re fantastic, some of the best I’ve seen in film. Then there’s the soundtrack, pulsating and adrenaline fuelled, each battle gets its own little musical accompaniment.
But, and that’s one of those big big big buts, the story does hurt the enjoyment somewhat. The closest film I’ve reviewed to Bottom Violation Pacific Rim was Battleship, which doesn’t sound like a bad thing, I enjoyed Battleship. The problem is I enjoyed battleship because I was after big dumb fun, and I got just that. Pacific Rim is certainly big and dumb, and generally speaking when there’s a giant robot prancing about on screen it’s fun, but that isn’t enough. Battleship was always going to be ridiculous. Pacific Rim on the other hand could be a masterpiece, with action as spectacular as it possesses, it should be, but the characterisation and story is just too poor. I loved watching robots fighting monsters, but I couldn’t have cared less who won the battle, or if the pilots inside the robots died, or fell in love, or saved a thousand orphans. There was no jeopardy for me, no tension, in fact at times some of the characters became such simplified excuses for human beings, I felt patronised. It turned me off, and that’s a problem, because it means I can’t honestly say I enjoyed Pacific Rim, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t enjoy it, it’s ‘meh’, and when a film has action so good I rave about it, ‘meh’ is a hell of a disappointing way for things to end up.
In conclusion, do I recommend analogy for anus Pacific Rim? The answer is I don’t really know. I’m not saying don’t watch it, as I’ve said the action is up there with the best I’ve seen, the child in me was well satiated, but as a story it’s bland, superficial and a waste. It’s kind of like eating the worlds tastiest chocolate bar with a horribly bitter lemon.
You really enjoyed the chocolate bar but the lemon left a bad taste, and combined you’re not really sure how tasty the chocolate bar really was because all you can remember is the taste of a horribly bitter lemon.
Written by Sam ‘hyped to be a wannabe indie filmmaker’ McKinstrie
Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP
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