Pacific Rim review: the world goes to war

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Pacific Rim green light Charlie Hunnam Rinko Kikuchi

MaryAnn’s quick take…
A war movie in the grandest tradition, set in a rich new fictional universe that we’re going to be talking about for a long time.
I’m “biast” (pro): I generally like Guillermo del Toro’s work
I’m “biast” (con): the trailer made the film look sub-Michael Bay awful
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s pretty silly. Of course it is. It’s robots versus monsters. It’s giant freakin’ robots versus Japanese monster-movie monsters. It’s every cheap goofy old flick with bad dubbing and stuntmen in rubber suits that made being stuck inside on rainy Saturdays watching TV when you were nine years old not so bad after all. Except, of course, Pacific Rim ain’t cheap: it’s all astonishingly realistic FX that cost a CEO’s salary — per minute — to create and Dolby Atmos that bursts your eardrums and more cities virtually devastated onscreen in a single film ever for your entertainment.

Except… it’s more than that, too. It’s not really a monster movie, although the “Kaiju” — the term is a direct homage to Japanese monster flicks — are so horrifying and so destructive that they make Godzilla look like a fluffy kitten. Pacific Rim is, rather, a war movie in the grandest tradition, the one that goes back to the very first Oscar winner for Best Picture, Wings, which was about World War I flying aces. For our heroes here are the pilots of the giant freakin’ robots humanity built to fight the Kaiju. It takes two pilots to manipulate a “Jaeger” — “hunter” in German, and I can’t help but imagine that invoking that language is a sort of homage to the other legendary pilots of WWI; it also lends a certain exotic feel that simply dubbing them “robots” never could have. And those pilot teams are global rock stars… when they aren’t being torn apart on the inside — and sometimes on the outside — by defeats and losses, of course. (The pilots work in tandem via a neural link that connects their brains; the deeper the bond between copilots, the better they fight, so the teams are often siblings or parent-and-child; but also the deeper the hurt, in more ways than one, when you lose your copilot. That is the stuff that angsty fan fiction is made of, people, and I hereby predict that we will see lots of it. This is that kind of movie, the kind that inspires people to play in its universe — to want to play in its universe — long after the movie ends.)

This isn’t just a story of war: it’s a story of the last desperate days of the war. (Whether it means victory for humanity, or defeat, this war cannot go on much longer.) One of the more unexpected — and most welcome — aspects of Pacific Rim is how it lets itself fast-forward to the most interesting part of the tale it has to tell. I get particularly frustrated when science fiction movies never know quite what to do with their ideas, and end up stopping just when those ideas could be taken to their next level. But with Rim, what would have been the third-act twist in most other films comes in the first ten minutes, leaving it time to explore the more dramatic extrapolations of its concepts. Most of the stuff you’ve seen in the trailers happens in those first ten minutes as well. That opening sequence zips by so fast — enjoyable fast, but still — that I can’t wait for the DVD so I can freeze-frame on some of the imagery that barely registers before it’s gone.

And then, we get to the meaty stuff. Most of the action takes place in 2025, 12 years into the Kaiju War, when things have taken a bad turn the nature of which I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. Shit is seriously beat up: the Jaegers are rusting hunks, as are the Jaeger bases. The global economy is in the toilet. (“Who wants to work? Who wants to eat?” the foreman at a construction site asks those assembled hoping for a shift.) Tactics against the Kaiju, shifting away from the Jaegers, have developed into something almost preposterously insane and abject and enormous and guaranteed to fail. Research into the Kaiju problem seems to be at a standstill: it’s long been known that they’re coming via some sort of wormhole from another dimension into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and from there stalking to coastal cities to wreck havoc, but why? how? are they “merely” animals, albeit big ones, or something else entirely? When the head of the Kaiju program — the ridiculously named Stacker Pentecost, played by the indescribably awesome Idris Elba (Prometheus, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) — comes looking for one of his washed-up pilots — the only slightly less ridiculously named Raleigh Becket, played by the supercute Charlie Hunnam (Children of Men, Cold Mountain) — his only weary explanation for asking Raleigh to return is, “You were my first choice. All the other Mark 3 pilots are dead.”

Very much like WWI flying aces, then: their careers are short because they are quickly killed in action.

The Kaiju are still coming, and they’re being called Category 4, which you don’t even need to know more to know that that cannot be good. The Jaegers are still fighting, as much as possible. Raleigh needs a new copilot. Might it be Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi: The Brothers Bloom), who’s so keen to get into a Jaeger that she’s practically shaking with anticipation? (Mako’s backstory is one of the most extraordinary and riveting sequences. Again, I wouldn’t spoil, but I will say this: Whatever they did to get the little girl playing young Mako [Mana Ashida] to cry like that, I don’t want to know.)

The smartest thing director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pan’s Labyrinth) — who cowrote the script with Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans) — has done here is somehow, magically, balanced the goofy movie-movie tropes with honest-to-goodness human feeling. Could be this is the closest a popcorn movie has come to such a thrilling combination since Star Wars. Every character breathes with real passion, even if it’s sometimes misplaced, and even if he (it’s mostly he’s, of course, *grrr*) only features in a small way… such as one pilot (Robert Kazinsky) who doesn’t trust Raleigh enough to fight alongside him. Some characters manage to be pretty absurd — such the R2-and-3PO team of scientists (Charlie Day [Monsters University, Going the Distance] and Burn Gorman [Up There, The Dark Knight Rises]) who are studying the Kaiju — and yet end up so real that you want to hug them… especially Day’s, especially after one of his biggest wishes comes true in a way he never would have wanted it to.

The second smartest thing? Del Toro makes this an authentic world through touches small — like how the Jaegers all have names (Raleigh’s is “Gipsy Danger”) and WWII-style pilot-supplied graffiti — and big, as with its whole-subplot extrapolation of the question: What happens to the Kaiju after the Jaegers kill them?

Pacific Rim is haunting in the most fun sort of way: you won’t be able to stop turning it over in your head, and it won’t be the incredible visuals that linger most. You’ll find yourself wondering about all the corners of its world that it barely touches on (while also hinting that there’s more there). This is but the tip of a rich new fictional universe that we’re going to be talking about for a long time.


see also:
Pacific Rim: Uprising movie review: robot smash

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MarkyD
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 3:08pm

ahh! I can’t wait to see this. Going tomorrow with my son. We both love the old monster movies. Godzilla, Gamera, King Kong, etc. He’s watched Godzilla vs. mechagodzilla numerous times.
I’m so excited that this is actually reviewing well.

Sherry
Sherry
reply to  MarkyD
Sun, Jul 14, 2013 10:47pm

I didn’t initially want to see this movie. My husband and sons couldn’t wait until it came out but when I found out my in-laws were going as well I knew I had to go along and I am glad to say that it surprised me. I left actually liking a movie I didn’t want to see in the first place. I thought they did a great job on the concept throughout the film and, like MaryAnn’s review, loved how they set up everything within the first 10-15 minutes of the movie.

MarkyD
reply to  Sherry
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 5:04am

Glad you liked it. I wish my wife would go along for these types of films.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 6:05pm

Colour me suitably amazed. “The Film So Huge… It Took Del Toro To Make It Watchable!”

Paul Wartenberg
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 6:09pm

calling mecha “jaegers” comes from a well-established tradition of video games giving foreign-sounding or animal names to the machines. Heavy Gear called their mecha Jaegers too.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 6:44pm

I was not aware of that. I don’t play many video games (no time for it).

Bri
Bri
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 10:38pm

For that matter, I’ve run into some anime that called certain mecha Jaegers (or else borrowing other ‘foreign’ terms.) Heh, not that one can cover everything, so certainly understandable.

englerp
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 8:54am

The Japanese are also fond of gratuitous German.

Mate Sršen
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 8:26pm

I can’t even understand how anybody had any doubts about this. When was the last time Guillermo del Toro directed a movie that wasn’t outright amazing? The mid-1990s, maybe? This was the very definition of a given.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  Mate Sršen
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 8:39pm

When was the last time a big summer blockbuster was actually good?
That was the source of my concern. That and the dire trailers.

Mate Sršen
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 8:47pm

Iron Man 3, The Avengers.

I’ll give you the trailers though.

EDIT: On further consideration, it seems worth pointing out that as far as quality summer blockbuster entertainment goes, we are getting a better deal than it may perhaps sometimes seem.

Constable
Constable
reply to  Mate Sršen
Fri, Dec 19, 2014 9:56am

Sorry to cut in so late in the game, but are you really calling Iron Man 3 a good movie?

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Constable
Fri, Dec 19, 2014 12:33pm

So does MaryAnn:
https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2013/04/what-tony-stark-needs-most-is-a-hug-iron-man-3-review.html

You could always discuss it on that thread. :-)

Constable
Constable
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Dec 21, 2014 10:07pm

Touche. It was better than the second one at least.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Mate Sršen
Fri, Jul 12, 2013 11:17pm

The trailers were a whole lotta not good. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the film would be *this* good.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Mate Sršen
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 5:28am

Hellboy 2

Chris
Chris
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 4:36am

Was expecting a Big Dumb Movie, and enjoyed it. Glad I saw it in 3D, and I don’t usually get much out of 3D.

One thing: the Australian accents are beyond dire. Not in a I’m-so-annoyed-that-my-accent-isn’t-portrayed-100%-authentically kind of way, more of a oh-look-people-are-running-in-fear-from-a-plasticine-monster kind of way. The cinema audience of the showing I went to laughed whenever they spoke initially. We stopped eventually–the accents were so inconsistent I think my brain decided they must be Brits or something.

The weird thing is, it’s not as if Hollywood is short of decent Australian actors. And it’s not just this film. Do Americans generally not realise the accent is hard to do well, or do they just not care that it makes their film laughable in one small market? I’m curious. Especially in this case, where they clearly put some effort into the Japanese pronunciation, which was quite decent.

BrianJKelly
BrianJKelly
reply to  Chris
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 8:57pm

I always wonder that. There are so many actors looking for work. You couldn’t find a good one with the appropriate accent/background (this goes for American dialect accents like Cajun, as well).

KF
KF
reply to  Chris
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 2:29am

The guy playing the younger Australian was from the UK. So it’s not just Americans having difficulty, I guess. (I’d guess he got cast through a Hobbit connection. He was originally going to play Kili before dropping out of that film.)

“Do Americans generally not realise the accent is hard to do well, or do they just not care that it makes their film laughable in one small market?”

Well, it’s a Mexican director in this case, though the production is, I guess, American.

Laszlo
Laszlo
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 5:32am

What are you smoking, and where can I get some?

Corny? Sure.
Poorly acted? You bet.
Unintentionally comedic dialogue? Chock full.
Bad Australian accents? Everywhere.

Yeah, okay, about 40 minutes worth of nice visual effects for the nine-year-olds (side note – why couldn’t they fight the monsters during the day so we could actually see them?). I tried shutting down all the offended sections of my brain as the movie went on, and was by the end reduced to a primitive vegetable-like state, able only to move slowly towards the lit exit signs, and thank goodness I retained that ability.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Laszlo
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 12:10pm

why couldn’t they fight the monsters during the day so we could actually see them?

Because even with the best FX money can buy, your imagination is still better, and teasing is more effective that showing it all.

Laszlo
Laszlo
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 9:38pm

Then I suppose one can always read a book. The fact is, for three of the four of us who went, we felt that the night scenes were muddled and visually choppy. It’s not really a question of the level of detail, sense of scale, or perspective, it was with it being too freaking DARK to maintain visual continuity.

And let’s not even talk about how it’s suddenly possible for small women with open umbrellas to stand next to a CH-53 that’s landing…an especially amazing fact considering that this movie seems to employ some kind of Ultra Super Amazing Fantasmaploovial High Thrust Helicopters, only 6 of which were needed to life a machine described as weighing upwards of 2000 tons.

I love a good romp, and am happy to suspend my disbelief to follow a good story, but openly insulting the intelligence of the audience tends to discourage the level of suspension that was required here.

The under-exposed fight scenes we actually the highlight.

KF
KF
reply to  Laszlo
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 2:32am

Did you see it in 3D? I saw it in 2D, and the action seemed quite clear throughout. Or maybe your theater was projecting it too dimly?

amanohyo
amanohyo
reply to  KF
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 9:53am

I saw it in Imax 3D and was able to follow the action about 90% of the time. Lazlo is correct to note that the editing is choppy in places (Gypsy does a Fei-Long-ish overhead toss in one fight that is difficult to follow), but it’s no worse than the average modern action movie fight scene in that regard. My main beef was with the fight choreography (a little too much rock-em sock-em punching). As dark as they are, the action scenes are still an order of magnitude more coherent than most of the fights in Bay’s brightly lit Transformers movies.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 10:56pm

they still did a decent job of directing the action sequences even in the dark night-time scenes. And was it me or was it that every time a kaiju hit there was bad weather – grey skies, rain, snow, etc?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 9:29am

This isn’t a horror movie. The kaiju aren’t monsters in order to play on some psychological effect. Hell, these aren’t even halfway decent Guillermo del Toro monsters. They’re nothing more than a genre convention. Much more likely that their effects for both the robots and the monsters were utterly unconvincing in daylight, so better to keep it dark and dazzle the audience with bright flashes so they don’t notice so much.

circles9
circles9
Sat, Jul 13, 2013 7:24am

“Could be this is the closest a popcorn movie has come to such a thrilling combination since Star Wars. ” This. I didn’t think I could feel this way in a movie theatre, anymore. Even the best of the superhero and scifi fare has been leaving me cold for so long. It’s one of those films where the split opinions in the reviews reveal a lot about the reviewers– you’ve gotta have that nerdy place down deep that, once upon a time, could bring toy robots and dinosaurs to life. Del Toro hits that sweet spot so hard that certain scenes feel downright Arthurian.

MarkyD
reply to  circles9
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 5:08am

Well said. I felt the same way. I was in full giddy mode by the halfway point. Then a certain thing happened during a certain fight, and I was in total geekgasm mode. I’d like to go into spoiler chat territory, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

MarkyD
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 5:03am

My son and I both loved the hell out of this movie. It was so damn fun. I didn’t even mind the cliche characters. I want to see so much more of this world.

I’m majorly bummed that it didn’t do gangbusters at the the box office, though. It’s a sad day when shit like Grown Ups 2 has a bigger opening weekend. America sucks.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  MarkyD
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 10:54pm

The kaiju market in the U.S. is still woefully undervalued. I mean, cmon. GIANT ROBOTS BEATING UP GIANT MONSTERS! It should be making Avengers-type profits here…

KF
KF
reply to  MarkyD
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 2:37am

It’s opening weekend wasn’t all that much bigger than Pacific Rim’s. The top three films split the weekend somewhat evenly: 23%, 22% and just under 20% of the box office for the weekend’s top ten films.

Also, the per screen average was quote close for Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim, and while Despicable Me won the weekend, it was on more screens than either film, with a slightly lower per screen average than Pacific Rim. And Grown Ups 2 was on about 200 more screens than Pacific Rim.

So I’d guess you had around the same number of people seeing each film, just a little fewer for Pacific Rim than for the other two.

Dokeo
Dokeo
reply to  KF
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 5:33am

I’m really hoping word of mouth will make it take off in the next few weeks. It’s a shame the trailers were *so* lame, because the movie provides a fun ride (with s**t blowing up real good), interesting ideas, and a female lead who gets to be as much of an actual person as the male leads.

MarkyD
reply to  KF
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 3:23pm

Numbers. Numbers. The real problem is that Grown Ups 2 made 41.5M. I had no idea people were that hard up for a shitty sequel to a shitty movie. Of course, these are the very types that don’t read, nor care about, reviews. The very types that are not helping the movie industry AT ALL. Like they care. Dear FSM, are we going to get a 3rd one now?! Thanks a lot, assholes.
Forgive the language, MAJ. I’m genuinely bothered by all this.

amanohyo
amanohyo
Mon, Jul 15, 2013 3:21pm

When it comes to content and plot, this is Evangelion Lite : The Movie. Specifically, many of the original ideas are borrowed from episodes 7, 8, 9, and 10 of NGE and slightly tweaked. The parent to child bond between Eva Unit and pilot, and the pilot to pilot synchronicity of episode 9 are combined in a clever way. The underwater battle is a mash-up of the battles in 8, 9, and 10. The overall tone of the film is far lighter than Eva – think Starship Troopers without the satire (although there is a half-hearted jab at ludicrous anti-immigration policy).

Thankfully, there’s 100% less Shinji whining, although daddy issues do pop up briefly. If you’ve ever watched Evangelion and thought, “I wish someone made a live action movie of episodes 7-10 without all the teen angst, Christian symbolism (*cough* Man of Steel), and shoebox philosophizing,” this right here is your movie my friend. And obviously, as can be guessed from the trailers, any preteen with an appreciation for classic monster movies will probably get a kick out of this, although the high production values destroy a lot of the campy appeal.

The script is intentionally corny and grandiose, as befits summer popcorn-fare. Watching Idris Elba spin that Saturday morning cartoon dialogue into golden humanity made me wish he’d gotten the part of Benjamin Sisko instead of First Lord of Ham, Avery Brooks (DS9… you were sooo close to being a perfect show). I know, I know, wrong age for the part… and wildly off topic, but I’m allowed to dream. Unfortunately Elba’s Japanese is pretty lousy as are the Australian accents, but that stuff doesn’t really bug me in a silly movie like this.

Max Martini is decent in a side role as a stereotypical stern father (if he was a city, he’d be Reservadad, capital of Sternistan… great Ra I need a nap), but none of the other actors rises beyond basic competence, with the two leads being the weakest of the bunch, mostly due to the challenges inherent in working with material this cheesy. Kikuchi in particular is mostly awkward (some of this can be played off as intentional character development) and hampered by her accent. Her gazes of adoration are comically overstated – Del Toro should have gone all in and requested the addition of shojo manga blush spots in post. Then again, what else can she do? She’s an attractive asian woman (the only woman in the movie other than a Russian pilot who gets maybe fifteen seconds of screentime) face to face with a main character she has been studying for years… there really isn’t any choice other than instant crush. I was prepared to be bored out of my mind by a forced romance, but Del Toro takes mercy and spares the audience suggesting that (SPOILER ALERT) they might even just end up being close friends!? What is this madness? (END SPOILER)

It would have been nice to see a little more imagination in the monster fight scenes which are about as interchangeable as the final skirmish in a Voltron episode – but again, this is intentional homage to the monster movies that form the foundation of Voltron’s (and Evangelion’s) lineage. It felt nice to kick back at a midnight show and just have fun at the movies like a kid again.

Incidentally if this all seems a bit incoherent, watching this movie broke my previous movie marathon record – the secret is to alternate short and long movies. Despicable Me 2 (Much worse than the first with a regressively simplistic family-values plot, but entertaining nonetheless), World War Z (first third promising – last two thirds lazy and timid), Man of Steel (Everything up to the last brawl amazing), Monsters U (so mediocre it’s not even worth thinking about – but it was cool to see details lifted from the Berkeley campus) and Pacific Rim (3D Imax no less, and the perfect light summery desert to finish the feast). Yes, I am bragging to strangers on the internet, and if that amazing feat of prolonged sitting doesn’t impress you, keep in mind that I worked seven hours before the marathon (at a very eye-intensive profession), I read a book between movies, and my only sustenance during all twelve hours was a four year old granola bar. Keep your 5K’s and your Tough Mudders, and your humdrum Marathons for I am an extreme movie watcher – Eyelids of Steel, a Butt of Lead, with a Behemoth’s Bladder… truly I am a GOD AMONG MEN! TREMBLE!!! TREMBLE BEFORE MY UNSHAKABLE CINEMATIC GAZE!!

yeah… I think I’ll uh… I’ll go… take a nap now.

bracyman
bracyman
reply to  amanohyo
Wed, Jul 17, 2013 5:26am

You say Evangelion Lite like that’s a bad thing. You could sell this thing by telling fans they’ve finally made an ending that doesn’t suck.

Assuming the ending of Pacific Rim isn’t “the sea monsters are here so you won’t be lonely anymore.”

amanohyo
amanohyo
reply to  bracyman
Thu, Jul 18, 2013 9:17pm

Keeping in mind that I did enjoy the movie overall, when I say Lite, I mean lighter than Hydrogen Lite. The plot is essentially: “Giant creatures are periodically attacking our city and we don’t know why, so we made giant robots to fight them.” It’s primarily the details in the technology and the direction/editing/shot selection that are borrowed straight from Eva – the plot is pure Super Sentai.

Regarding endings that suck, I’m afraid I’m one of the weirdos that enjoyed both the original slide show ending and the second half of the End of Evangelion Movie. I don’t miss the teen angst, but a bit of Eva-esque shoebox philosophizing and interpersonal complexity would have been welcome here – the emotions and characterization are a bit too broad, even for a summer popcorn flick.

Paul Wartenberg
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 2:15am

ZOMG you can design your own Jaeger… well, kinda. Check it out: http://apps.warnerbros.com/pacificrim/designer/us/?language=en-us

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 2:28am

I can post the poster to Twitter but for some reason I can’t load em to Facebook.

singlestick
singlestick
Tue, Jul 16, 2013 10:46pm

I really liked “Pacific Rim,” and appreciate the obvious affection that del Toro has for the genre. I also love the little details that fills the film. But I just can’t see it expanding much beyond the dedicated SF and anime audience because it is too conventional. The production design and action set pieces are often stunning; but the plot and the characterizations are stilted, the kinda stuff that is common in anime, and was lame in live action films as far back as “Top Gun.” On the other hand, I really liked much of the cast and disagree with some professionals who thinks that the film should have had an “A list cast.” Charlie Hunnam kinda reminds me of a cross between Daniel Craig and a young Steve McQueen. Rinko Kikuchi is very good in an underwritten and underdeveloped role, and Idris Elba is magnificent. But the two scientist characters not only reminded me of similar characters in the animated tv show sources of “Pacific Rim,” they would have been BETTER in an animated version of this film.

And it’s not the director’s fault, but I realize that I have cinematic demolition fatigue. I just don’t need to see any more cities toppled in the movies this summer, or the rest of the year.

Bottom line, I’ve seen a lot of praise for the “world building” in this film; but it would have been much more fun if the characters had been better developed, and if the movie hadn’t seemed so conventional and predictable.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 9:20am

Wow, i must have seen the wrong movie, because the one I saw was just so much melodramatic nonsense. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie so desperately invested in all the wrong things. No, wait, I can remember: Prometheus. The only reason Pacific Rim doesn’t rise (sink?) to Prometheus levels of stupid is because the characters here manage to consistently behave in accordance with their five word character descriptions.

This script lost me the moment right after the intro when we discover that the “hero” has spent 5 years as a welder dressed like a hobo wearing a space backpack because he haz a sad. Nothing that happens after that intro makes a lick of sense. It treats painfully obvious character details like they’re important reveals .And everything interesting, in terms of world building or actual character development that’s hinted at gets immediately abandoned in favor of… more melodrama.

Did any of y’all see the video that Red Letter Media posted with the one guy asking a lengthy series of “Why did…” questions about Prometheus? I want to make a vide just like that about Pacific Rim. And I fucking hate Red Letter Media.

And the most damning thing: Ron Perlman just looks bored. Do you have any idea how bad a script has to be to make Ron Perlman look bored??

Kate
Kate
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 11:50am

I totally agree. And to make matters worse, that big speech just before the final act (when Idris Elba yells out “We’re cancelling the Apocalypse!”) was right out of “Independence Day” (“Today we celebrate our independence day!”). In fact, so much of this film reminded me of “Independence Day” that I found myself losing track of the story as I made lists in my head of the similarities.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Kate
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 5:37pm

I was actually waiting expectantly for Elba’s “Cancelling the apocalypse” speech. I really wanted it to be… well, cheese, but rousing cheese, ala Bill Pullman in Independance Day. But, no. Elba’s “speech” was, like, 3 lines long, and all from the trailer.

Jim Mann
Jim Mann
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 3:23pm

But to me there is a huge difference between Prometheus and Pacific Rim, which stems from the expectations for the type of movies they are (or tried to be). Prometheus was supposed to be a serious SF film, as as such we expect to adhere to a reasonable set of rules. It failed miserably to do that. Pacific Rim was a giant monsters vs giant robot flick. You don’t expect such a movie to adhere to the same basic rules (at the very least, giant monsters like that would collapse under their own weight if the movie were to treat them as totally realistic) and as such my expectations for it were lower. It actually exceeded my expectations.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Jim Mann
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 5:35pm

I think I’d agree with you, had Pacific Rim been made by just about anybody except Guillermo del Toro.

And, please, don’t even get me started on the abuses of mechanical- and bio-physics in this. >.<

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 2:50am

Finally saw it yesterday, and just because it was the best reviewed film in MaryAnn’s 2013 ranking. But you’re right. What a disappointment. It wasn’t a total loss; I didn’t sleep though 2/3 of it like Transformers. Anyway, the plot is awfully predictable after the first act. Pilots who are “inside each other’s thoughts” suddenly begin talking to each other in the middle of the movie. That is even more unforgivable because the genre has a long tradition in battlers communicating with some kind of central dispatch. By the beginning of the third act, when the world is coming to an end, I couldn’t feel like I’d shed a single tear for any of those characters. I don’t know if they’re unconvincing or unrelatable or what, but they didn’t work for me on the emotional level.

BTW, MaryAnn used to have a rule where films that depended on stupid assumptions to exist were deemed not worthy of existence. Case in point: why did the world citizens choose to build a 20,000 mile “wall of life” to protect all the Pacific shores instead of creating a super reinforced perimeter just around the portal (at a known location) from where ALL the Kaijus come from? Huh.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Rod Ribeiro
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 3:22am
Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 10:37am

LMAO!!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Rod Ribeiro
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 6:07pm

MaryAnn used to have a rule where films that depended on stupid assumptions to exist were deemed not worthy of existence.

Citation, please.

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 9:04pm

OK.

https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2003/09/duplex-review.html

https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2002/11/i-spy-review.html

https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2009/06/the-proposal-review.html

And, finally

https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2009/10/couples-retreat-review.html

where you say: “If it was necessary to invent such awkward absurdities in order to get the story in motion, perhaps this story simply was not worth telling. “

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Rod Ribeiro
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 9:13pm

You’re extrapolating from a few absurdities of different types that I would agree that any and all absurdities that *anyone* sees and that I would not necessarily agree with would also warrant the same response.

This is a different film with different allowable sorts of absurdities. And I don’t even see the wall as one of them.

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 9:46pm

I’m not saying that, either. I’m not talking about absurdities *I* see (since I don’t write reviews) but absurdities *you* see. And not every one of them, just the ones that if corrected would make the movie last about five minutes. I certainly have not read all the reviews here, but I don’t remember seeing you let something like that pass without a single remark before. Or maybe I haven’t really disagreed with you about acceptable absurdities before.

Ernst Preuss
Ernst Preuss
Sat, Jul 20, 2013 11:39am

Beautiful review, it sums up my view of this wonderful work perfectly. El toro gave me my childhood back.

VohaulsRevenge
VohaulsRevenge
Sun, Jul 21, 2013 4:19am

It’s been a long, long time since I walked out of a movie theater with a silly grin that stayed plastered on my face for the rest of the day. This movie may be entirely surface…but what a surface!

That said, I think much of one’s enjoyment of this film is tied to how much you feel toward the (many) source materials, live-action and animated.

RaisingHeart
RaisingHeart
Tue, Jul 30, 2013 6:00pm

“but I will say this: Whatever they did to get the little girl playing young Mako [Mana Ashida] to cry like that, I don’t want to know.”

Actually, they did nothing. Mana started crying in front of the cameras when she was five.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LKmF0xQlxo
starts with 3:37 while she’s crying and talking.
I suggest you watch the all 7 min, however.

I’m not sure you can understand what she says, but I’m sure you can feel it.

oh, BTW, from the director’s view of Mana, you can take a look here.

starts with 3:18.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGCg1yaMAqs

Socalguy
Socalguy
reply to  RaisingHeart
Thu, Aug 01, 2013 10:37pm

I still think Mana’s best role was playing a young, practically orphaned girl in a Japanese series called “Mother”. I’m sure you can find it streaming online somewhere. That girl can emote like no other girl at her young age.