Lazy Movie Review: Pacific Rim

pacific rim

Premise:  An alien attack is happening via the ocean, as giant monsters (referred to in the film 50 times as kaiju) are destroying coastal cities.  The humans of Earth put aside their differences in order to try and stop the monsters, by building huge robots (referred to in the film 50 times as jaegers) designed to punch the monsters until they fall over.  But the monsters start getting bigger, and coming in greater numbers, so I think its safe to say that it has never felt more logical for me to keep living in Illinois than it does in Pacific Rim’s scenario.

 

Pros:

-The action in this movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, so much so that, on a visual and special effects level, its strengths almost override the bad parts.  I know it’s kind of terrible to say, to blatantly look over the cliché narrative and various plot holes, but it kind of works here.

-And everything was done on such a large-scale, del Toro really gave a spectacular sense of size to the monsters and the robots.  It was really frightening seeing these things emerge, especially when the camera was positioned at a street level.  It really puts you in the moment.  My jaw was often dropped during the fights, in a borderline cartoonish manner.

-I can’t think of a movie this year with a better color palette.  Or at least one that worked so well with the material.  This is in stark contrast to say, The Lone Ranger, which had a dull gray tone layered over the entire film; as if the editor just did a *SELECT ALL* in the timeline, and pasted in the same boring color filter on every clip.  I mean, even the Disney logo graphic before the movie were tinted gray.  Note to filmmakers:  We, the audience, don’t mind looking at colorful movies.  In fact we kind of enjoy it.  You don’t usually hear people enthusiastically beaming about a film’s complete LACK of interesting colors.  “I really loved how Armie Hammer’s skin looked as dull and lifeless as the dirt surrounding him in every scene!  Magnifique!”

-I think I should point out again how awesome it was to see giant robots fighting giant monsters in the most visually successful way possible.

-I even liked it when they scaled back the action in the huge battles to show what the humans were doing inside the robots.  It never took away from the battles, and often times created even much more tension than if they were just drones or something.

-The side story to visit Ron Perlman added a whole different layer of depth to the film.  It showed the reactionary state of the world (if just in a sliver) to the monster attacks, such as Perlman’s case of selling all of the dead monster parts on the black market.  I would have liked to see more little detail touches like this, but it was already a movie filled with a ton of shit.

-The final action scene of Pacific Rim > the Boston Market microwaveable meatloaf dinner I just ate > the final action scene of Man of Steel.

-It was cool how this wasn’t just a movie about America being awesome, but the whole world contributing.  Other countries can build big robots, too!

-I saw it in IMAX 3D, and as usual, the 3D is barely noticeable by the end of the movie.  But it is worth the $16 tickets just to go deaf for a few hours from the amazing IMAX speakers.  The movie has awesome sound design in general, and this was one of the best IMAX sound experiences I’ve ever had.  Also, big screen + big monsters = no brainer.

-The acting was alright overall, but not good by any means.  The standout to me, probably out of bias for my love of Always Sunny, was Charlie Day.  On last night’s Conan, Charlie said he was basically just channeling Rick Moranis.  If we can’t have the actual Rick Moranis in our movies, I don’t mind if we have a people acting like him, especially if they’re as enthusiastic as Charlie Day.

 

Cons:

-Wasn’t a big fan of all the neural link stuff.  Exploring it as deeply as they did really put it in the front of the film as one of the major themes, but it still felt so thrown together that it came across, to me, as filler.  I guess it seemed a little inexplicably easy to pull off.  And people get can lost in the memories?  Even their own memories?  I really liked the scene where the child-version Mako is getting chased by a giant crab monster in the snowy streets of Japan, but it seemed to only exist in the film because of the dumb neural link plot device.  I guess I’m saying, it’s as if del Toro really wanted to put a scene like that in the film, but had no better way of putting it in.  And then, in possibly the worst case of dumb neural link logic, the humans actually wire in and “drift” with the monsters themselves.  And the end result was a lot of fast imagery followed by “Now I know the answer to everything!”  Plugging into the dead monster’s brain was on the level of Jeff Goldblum clacking away on his laptop in Independence Day saying “OK, I’ve just infected the mothership with a computer virus.”

-Charlie Hunnam has the look of a summer movie star, but he didn’t come across to me as anything more than another Sam Worthington.  Picture Sam Worthington in the lead role of Pacific Rim.  Right now.  Do it!  See, he fits in perfectly.  Now picture Charlie Hunnam in Clash of the Titans.  It basically wouldn’t change the movie.  Not a good sign for either guy.

-IDRIS ELBA CLICHE MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH BEFORE THE BIG FIGHT ABOUT CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE THAT WE ALREADY BASICALLY SAW IN THE COMMERCIALS.  YEAH, STRINGER BELL, WOO!    His character’s name is General Stacker Pentecost, by the way…   “And the nominees for Dumbest Name in an Action Movie are…  (drumroll) …Stacker Pentecost from Pacific Rim…  (audience applause) …Cypher Raige from After Earth…  (audience applause)…  …Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder…  (audience applause)…”

-Might have helped to make the robots capable of flight and dropping bombs from above or something, but that’s just me.  This seems like the perfect situation where laser guns would have been awesome.  Instead, we have robots that have “rocket elbow” abilities, that increase the power of a punch?  I think the robots should have been equipped with a bunch of long-range weaponry first befo-  ehhhhhh who cares?  ROCKET ELBOW!  SMASH!  (theater seat starts shaking, nose starts bleeding, goes deaf in right ear)

-To get back to the neural link crap, the scene where the lead characters have a 10 minute stick fight in a gym to find out who is “drift compatible” is a big reason why the movie was over two hours long.

-The robots all have stupid names.

 

Final Thoughts:  The visuals outweigh the actual story, but they outweigh them so much that it’s worth seeing just for the visuals.  I don’t think it’s going to play as well on my TV on Blu-ray in a few months as it did on the IMAX screen, so I’d encourage anyone who is interested in this film at all to just go to the theater while you can and see it in the best way possible.  What have you got going on over the weekends that’s so great, anyway?  Go see a movie!

8 out of 10

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3 thoughts on “Lazy Movie Review: Pacific Rim

  1. Ginnie says:

    I thought Idris’ character’s name was Marshal. Actually, I don’t remember anyone’s name. Think I loved it for the same reasons you did; had the same basic problems as well, plus:
    1) I was kind of like, wouldn’t you sort of naturally just assume that the pilots would mostly be women since women are generally more into cooperating and being touchy-feely?
    2) I thought the Kaiju were all clones, or Charlie said that, so why was that one pregnant? Do they do parthenogenesis? Or was that some sort of freak Jurassic Park-style thing (which, actually, I think was parthenogenesis…). One more time. Parthenogenesis.

    • scottodactyl says:

      I could not remember his name for the life of me, so when I looked it up on IMDb, it appears as if it’s Stacker Pentecost… Stacker. Pentecost.

      And whoa, DUDES CAN FEEL THINGS TOO. I’ve seen The Notebook. I know how it is.

      And I didn’t think of the pregnant thing at all, but in retrospect, it doesn’t make sense except for the benefit of the goofiness of that particular scene. Seems like everything bad about the movie was kind of just a result of wanting to do something interesting, but not knowing how to make it logically happen.

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