Movie Review: Pacific Rim
Prinz Lee wrote this review 3 years and 3 months ago
BIG on every scale one can image in terms of battles, robots, monsters, scenarios, and the mind-numbing anxiety of where it’ll go when embarking on saving the planet! Like any del Toro film, it portrays our darkest fears, wildest dreams, and uncontrollable fantasies. Running on clichés, a mash-up that could be traced to other franchises, and a cast that comes off uninteresting and flat (with the exception of one), “Pacific Rim” HAS enough substance to (oddly) hold its own weight.
The ocean’s abyss has always held intrigue among the human race, but taking it for granted; we have always rested with the assumption most of mankind’s wonders and greatest threat was tied into our own kind. Above land and open to one another, we’d be the ones to create, divide, conquer, destroy, but as fate would have it…we were wrong!
“Pacific Rim” exposes a story of legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, who started rising from the sea, which lead to the beginnings of a war that would take millions of lives and consume the human race’s resources for years and years. In order to fight against the giant monsters, a special type of weapon was designed: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled by two pilots whose minds are synched via a neural-like-portal-bridge called “The Drift.” But as the enemy grows more powerful with each attack, even the Jaegers are coming off pretty weak in the face of the relentless giant-like, freakishly-looking monsters. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending the human race have no choice but to run to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) – who are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete Jaeger. As a team, they stand as mankind’s last (and only) hope against an upcoming apocalypse.
For starters, I love, admire, respect, and hold del Toro to high regard, but he didn’t necessarily reinvent the (robotic / monster) wheel here. Personally, I was hoping for something unique. Something that would instill some sort of impact and stay with me for hours, but sadly as much as I enjoyed it – and I very well did – it wasn’t anything as interesting as “Pan Labyrinth,” or one of his “Hellboy” movies. Different on many ends, but the pizzazz carried by those I’ve mentioned didn’t find its way upon “Rim.”
On more than one occasion, the pilot controlled robots reminded me of “Voltron” to an extent – especially with the choice of weapon, as well as the monsters they fought throughout the entire film. Although the monsters resemble Voltron’s ever-so-famous road beasts, they also had an it factor that oozed “Godzilla.” It became even more apparent as most of the film’s main battle takes place in Hong Kong – a vibrant, gorgeous (Asian) city among the visions of del Toro being destroyed by these giant, freakishly-looking monsters.
Now it’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable watching these epic battles on an IMAX screen, because it was. But another downfall to all this was how repetitive del Toro kept battle sequences. It was drawn down to a few moves with pretty good detail in terms of movement, but it quickly becomes a hamster-wheel of sequences that provides lots of visual flavor, but hallow in terms of emotional effect.
And when it comes to emotional effect, I don’t know what it was about the cast, but nothing about them (with the exception of Ron Perlman) touched me in any way. They all felt off. Dry. Their overall demeanor was dull – if anything…one dimensional. A major downfall I felt came off clear in terms of not having enough development. We get an idea of who they are, but it seemed like they were just going through rushing motions, never really building on character connection. A stand-out in this film is Charlie Day – who’s there to provide comedic relief, which felt off. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he (as talent), but that jibber-jabber we’re accustomed to seeing him give off didn’t belong. He’s very talented in other work I’ve seen, but his style didn’t come off well. It felt awkward. I can accept a little goof here and there, but I’ll never understand comedy in a SERIOUS film pertaining to Earth’s destruction. Unless geared towards that type of genre (“This Is The End” for example), ok, but if it’s not it reaps emotional angst.
On the flip: as much as the script is easy to interpret and predict in terms of who connects with whom, Ron Perlman is a blessing to the film. His role is the only one that seemed to have pegged well with the story, style and overall film’s appeal.
As I tap into a positive aspect of “Pacific Rim,” there are also others which helped covering up some of the negatives.
For starters, right in its opening scene, narrated by film’s lead, there’s a line and/or quote which was catchy, interesting, and kind of a mind-fuck. “When I was a kid, whenever I’d feel small or lonely, I’d look up at the stars and wonder if there was life up there. Turns out, I was looking in the wrong direction.” Once that line is done, the film starts off big, loud, and destructive. The scale at which this is displayed quickly solidifies you’re in for another blockbuster!
In terms of style, del Toro’s larger-than-life robots and monsters (although not unique) were interesting to endure and digest. They were crafted pretty well and covered just about every single detail one would imagine if on a personal experience we actually saw creatures and robots in battle. (Scenery jumped out best when lighting was used a certain way as it aimed at falling rain, giving it the impression of a live comic-book.) Tones and textures were always kept dark when unpleasantness was arising. A scene that entailed a flashback with a young version of Rinko Kikuchi’s character catches that very well.
One of my favorite stand-out occurrences in the film which I found interesting, enjoyable, and felt del Toro had done well was the the idea of global unity. Working together as one was quite uplifting for me. As a viewer, to watch the human race as one, rather than divided, is an appeal and/or take we never really see in films, as well as in our current, contemporary existence.
As a whole, the film isn’t bad. It’s fun and enjoyable to watch. It’s not the best, but definitely not the worst!
Quite frankly, on many occasions, I felt to a degree (minus the goofiness), this is what “Transformers” should have looked and felt like. Well, maybe not to a full extent, but “Pacific Rim’s” tone and texture had a better feel for it – something that made me think harder in terms of style was what the end result would have been say if del Toro had taken on “Transformers” rather than Bay. (Just a crazy, random thought.)
Overall, considering how big this film is in every way, shape, or form, I advise catching this piece on a large screen. Trust me when I say watching this on your lap-top, iPad, or even on TV wouldn’t do this visual justice.