I have never been so torn as to whether I wanted to watch a movie or not as I was when it came to Pacific Rim, but curiosity got the better of me. Often times I will attempt to walk into a cinema with a bit of background, not so much as to ruin the plot or the enjoyment of the scenes, but enough to have a gauge of what I’m walking into. I usually look out for good and bad reviews, taking each of them with a grain of salt. So I was absolutely confused when critics slid apart like the fault lines of the Pacific rim, either completely hating the film or completely loving it. I did not understand how one movie could create such a divergence.
Walking out of the cinema, I kind of understood why it was so. Pacific Rim definitely takes with it a select audience and, thanks to its action and childlike appeal, a large one that will earn it tons of profit and praise and possible sequels and spinoffs and action figures galore. Most likely, if you enjoy the typical summer blockbuster, you will walk out feeling incredibly awe-struck and satisfied with the Industrial Light & Magic effects and action presented to you; that is, if you do not worry too much or nitpick with certain elements of the movie that will stand out as just self-indulgent, especially for fantasy heavyweight Guillermo del Toro (after all, this was his childhood fantasy come alive).
There is a lot for one to enjoy. And, personally, enjoy I did. The sci-fi elements were just right on the money with the Jaegers and two pilots forced to make a neural link or handshake so as to operate it. I loved Del Toro’s inspiration behind the Kaijus, a mixture of Japanese larger-than-life monsters like Godzilla, Goya’s The Colossus and Jurassic Park, and the potential socio-political symbols they can evoke. In terms of the larger concepts and the gorgeously cinematic fight scenes, Pacific Rim is literally jaw-dropping (indeed many mouths were open in the audience, I saw first hand). It really makes one feel like a kid again, playing with action figures in the backyard – except this time the action figures included the robotic giants Gipsy Danger and Cherno Alpha and the backyard are dozens of destroyed cities and the largest ocean playground, the Pacific.
And this is probably what the first group of critics see from Pacific Rim: not a perfect, but an absolutely enjoyable movie that brings out the child in any audience member. The plot and characters are passable enough for the grand scheme of Del Toro’s fantasy sci-fi baby.
As for the other handful of critics, they looked more into the nitty gritty and, admittedly, when one targets the humans rather than the Jaegers and Kaijus, there is plenty more to lust after in Pacific Rim.
Charlie Hunnam was mediocre in his lead role. I’m sure plenty of other male actors would have been a better choice. Mako’s character had the potential to push against stereotypical Asian roles, but insultingly supported Orientalism in its portrayal of the victim-like, shy Japanese woman who is saved by the self-righteous, patriotic American man.
Many of the lines in Pacific Rim were very generic: the good guy is nothing but good, the bad guy is nothing but bad. The same goes for the plot, it’s predictable. It does not add to past movies in its display of heroics. It does not seek to understand aliens for any other reason but to annihilate them. It is just a chauvinistic performance of man’s superiority.
But in the end, did I enjoy the film? Definitely. I loved the humor in it. I did not take the stereotypes too seriously. It is an action film any kid would feel completely enshrouded in.
I loved the occasional quirky lines. Spoilers ahead: My favourites included when Raleigh asks whether he was chosen as the best man for the job and Pentecost tells him that he was the only choice ’cause all the others were dead. I loved it when Mako “chasing the rabbit” almost results in complete destruction and the female automatic voice asks the team, “Would you like to try again?” For some reason I completely loved it when Gipsy Danger punched through a building and there was a close-up shot of Newton’s cradle being set into motion.
I loved the bromance between Dr. Geiszler and Dr. Gottlieb. The scene where Dr. Geiszler is in the shelter and loses his glasses and attempts to find them and puts them on again only to come close to being attacked by the Kaiju is reminiscent to me of the scene in Jurassic Park where Wayne Knight’s character, Dennis Nedry loses his glasses in the mud and when he puts them on is faced with a dilophosaurus. But he definitely was a mix of Nedry and Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum’s character – even dressed the same). Did anyone else catch that?
For all those still on the fence on whether or not to catch this film, I say that if you’re the kind who likes a thoughtful plot over the action and who prefers more mature films, Pacific Rim may not be your kind of movie. But if you’re in the mood for a good blockbuster, or are a fan of your typical Iron Man and Transformers combo, you’ll definitely enjoy this film. As a whole I loved the film, ’cause I’m a fan of Del Toro’s work and I appreciate any attempt at a sci-fi universe.
Till next time!