Okay, so I don’t get it. I don’t understand the love Pacific Rim seems to have inspired in people.
I would think that maybe I slept through whatever made this movie so great for everyone else, but really I think I only missed the beginning– I fell asleep during the previews and woke up while Charlie Hunnam and his brother were getting their asses kicked by Guiron. So I’m not sure where I diverged from the population at large, including the dude next to me who cackled during bits I found mildly amusing or really just fell flat, or even the friends I saw it with, especially Henry who is usually on the same page as me or even less forgiving than I am. As it ended, I turned to him and asked, “Okay, so you saw the whole movie, was it as bad as I think it was?” Apparently it wasn’t? But I’m really at a loss as to what I missed that made it good.
If it wasn’t clear, I share Guillermo del Toro’s love for Japanese monster movies. I grew up on episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, to the point of when given a stuffed turtle for my birthday, he was immediately named Gamera and flew through the air to save the Playmobil children to the tune of “Gamera is really neat/He is full of turtle meat/We all love you, Gamera!” (And a recent birthday got me the tinned DVD trilogy.) I love these movies in both a genuine and hilarious sort of way, but Pacific Rim just fell short of fulfilling either.
The cast is okay; there are stronger and weaker performances, although no one is really stellar or truly unwatchable. Obviously, Charlie Hunnam didn’t hold up his end of the film. I also question why, in a film full of international accents, they had to force him into being American. Also, I haven’t watched it, but doesn’t he fake it all day long on Sons of Anarchy? You’d think he’d be better at it. Anyway, so he’s pretty wooden, but it’s not the worst performance I’ve ever seen.
Then you have Owen from Torchwood and Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny playing the resident wackadoo scientists who spend their days butting heads and trying to figure out the mysteries of the kaiju. Burn Gorman is doing a nerdy, socially-awkward version of his general weirdness he’s showing up with in more and more roles, off-set by a Crispin Glover haircut, a Charlie Chaplin suit and an unexplained limp. It’s all sort of just generally unsettling. Charlie Day’s performance was borderline grating until I realized his character is really just a perfect marriage of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters and Bobcat Goldthwait in the Police Academy movies. Once you put him in that perspective, he suddenly became much more enjoyable to watch.
Max Martini and Ben from True Blood are the Australian father/son Jaegar team, despite neither of them being Australian. Martini is pretty decent, but Rob Kazinsky is given irritatingly little to do aside from be cranky and petulant and glare at people. Also they have a bulldog, for no reason other than bulldogs are cute.
Idris Elba is Idris Elba and can really do no wrong. (Except for this: http://youtu.be/S2okS1Nwi0I) But I’m sorry, that “Cancelling the Apocalypse” speech just doesn’t hold up. Henry likened it to Bill Pullman’s “This Is Our Independence Day” speech and it just isn’t as good, no matter which way you slice it.
The highlight of the film, both in performance and character, is Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori. But even she drops the ball in parts (although I won’t be popular for saying so). She is just a little too weepy for my tastes and I wish the “big secret” of her memories of the kaiju attack that killed her family was something more relevant than Idris Elba adopting her. It was already very clear that he was her dad (I had literally whispered to Henry, “What, is he her dad or something?” when he denied her the co-pilot spot and she cried and stomped off to her room), so it wasn’t a reveal in anyway. And I was thinking that Charlie Hunnam was going to discover some secret about the kaiju or the government’s involvement that perhaps Mako wasn’t even aware she knew. However, the biggest problem is that truly Mako should have been the focus of the movie as opposed to Raleigh. As it is, her character is better developed probably in part because of Kikuchi’s superior acting skills and the death of her family is a much more compelling backstory than his years in Alaska. She’s the Luke Skywalker of the story, and he’s more like a cross between the Han Solo and the Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I did think the romance unfolded really well, though. And I’ve read things claiming it’s not a love story or a love story in the normal sense of the term, but I really disagree. And that isn’t to relegate one of them to the romantic interest role. But it seemed VERY clear to me that as soon as the movie ended they were off to have lots and lots of neural-connection kink sex. Just me? Oh well.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the movie though was the action sequences. Similar to Man of Steel, I felt they went on too long and were too uninteresting. Particularly the one in the middle goes on for so long and I knew we weren’t anywhere near the end of the movie, even though it felt like it should be. This could be a by-product of seeing it in IMAX and 3D as well (since unfortunately IMAX 2D isn’t an option), but in most of the battle sequences I found there to be too much debris kick-up/splash from the water. Half of the time 90% of what you were seeing was just splash. I just got kind of bored with it. And it’s nitpicky, but I thought a lot of the kaiju were too similar to each other. They could’ve branched out a little on the designs.
Honestly, I didn’t hate the movie, and I enjoyed myself okay, but it wasn’t good and I’m never going to want to watch it again. And I’m not hard to please as far as campy monster movies go, but I thought this really just missed the mark. That said,
2/5 Sleeping Pants