Movie: Pacific Rim
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Giant monsters vs other giant things has been a long running genre tradition in movies. Filmmakers have been fascinated by the subject ever since King Kong and Giant Ex-Girlfriend from the golden and silver ages of cinema up to Godzilla and Voltron. Even though these kinds of movies have their die hard fan cultures, and people swear up and down by them, I have always felt that giant robots and giant monster movies, television shows, anime, and other mediums have always done the genre a disservice. They are rarely done in such a way that is “satisfying”. I think the last thing in this genre to be done well was the 1999 film The Iron Giant.
I say this with good reason. Like the first episode of Star Wars, a lot can go wrong in the writing. As it turns out, you can have all the budget in the world, but if the story isn’t there, if the writing is bad, if the dialog is clunky, it all falls apart. And that is what happens in these films. You can take any number of modern day monster/robot movies and it’s easy to see that the vision was short sighted when it comes to the most important factor, the writing. That’s why the last handful of Hulk movies sank and the last few Godzillas (counting the film from the states as well as the modern Japanese films) were awful; they just didn’t have the strength where it counted. In the end, they just wound up cluttering the shelves of the last remaining movie rental places, collecting dust.
Now, I will say, as far as anime goes, there have been a couple animes that did the whole giant robot thing pretty well. I’ll make some enemies by saying that I do not consider Neon Genesis: Evangelion (and its subsequent incarnations) one of those. I will admit that Neon has some good visuals, and interesting scenes to it… but writing wise as a whole… no sir. Gurren Lagann, on the other hand… If you have not seen it… It’s not for all audiences, but yeah. It is probably one of my all time favorite giant robot animes of all time.
So, now on to Pacific Rim. I went into this movie expecting 2 things: 1) Pretty spectacular CGI. 2) Like all Monster/Robot movies before it, to lack any backbone of writing from sporting a theme of AMERICA WINS HOT CHICKS AND GUNS mentality that movies like Transformers tend to do in Hollywood. Needless to say, I was correct in one assumption. The CGI was pretty freaking sweet.
Although Pacific Rim isn’t Oscar worthy in writing, it does have some really good merits. The first being that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It knows what it is and what the audience wants. Giant robots fighting giant monsters. There is enough humor to balance out the more serious portions of the movie. There’s a great cameo that adds itself to this as well.
One of the things that I liked was the level of diversity in the film. It no longer is “America saving the rest of the helpless world”. It is now “The world bands together to fight an overbearing threat”, and through the choice and placement of characters from different countries portrayed a nice change in pace. However, on this same hand, you can definitely feel this sudden shift in Hollywood, where the target audience is no longer Americans. Ticket prices too high so less people seeing movies… should we lower ticket prices? NONSENSE! Just move to another country’s market and sell there! So yes, it feels like it’s not directly intended for us, but in a way, I feel like that makes the movie even better. Because they are no longer shackled into the formulaic idealism of “X is what makes money off of American audiences”, writers are now open to shake things up a little. Write something we haven’t seen before. Rejoice! The gratuitous, ill placed, pointless, and over the top sexual loves scenes in action films of the 2000’s are finally over!
I will have to say that there were some holes in a few theories of physics here and there (Like, if the robot is completely submerged under the ocean, how does it suddenly stand above he waves?). The suspension of disbelief takes a little bit of a heavy hand in the film. But overall, the film does exactly what it sets out to do, have giant robots and giant monsters beat the snot out of each other. I personally would have loved to see more scenes of some of the different robots kicking tail, or duke it out between themselves, but that is only a minor complaint. Not even a complaint really. What they have is very satisfying. The way the CGI melds in with the actors is rather fantastic. The body suits, although a little unwieldy, were done in pretty cool way. And I’m always a sucker for holographic H.U.D.s. You simply can’t go wrong with how they chose to do it. I, for one, would love to see the “making of” to see what exactly is a prop vs what is green screened as it comes to where the actors were and when.
If 1 is a movie so bad, the projectionist pushes over the projection machine in spite before committing arson and 10 is a movie so good, a country is made where it’s entire society is based on the film AND the country is so good it’s accepted into the U.N. no questions asked:
Pacific Rim lands about a 7: even GLAD0S (from Portal 2) is in the movie as the ROBOT’S COMPUTER!