Seriously, this was the complaint that one of my friends had coming out of Pacific Rim.
To which I could only reply “Well, yeah, what exactly did you expect?!!!!”
I mean it’s not like the marketing on this one should have led anyone to believe that they were going to get a sequel to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (a movie which, by the way, I really did enjoy, though it did seem as though it could have used just a bit more tightening up).
Really, though, take a look at that banner poster above. Take a look at any of the previews that were released in advance of this flick. Take a look at ANY of the marketing done for this movie, and then tell me you’re going to be surprised that “It’s nothing but giant robots hitting giant monsters”.
Though actually, that’s not quite accurate. What this movie actually has is GIANT ROBOTS FIGHTING GIANT FRIGGIN’ MONSTERS!!! I mean, seriously, when was the last time we got a movie that features a GIANT ROBOT PICKING UP AN OCEAN LINER AND USING IT LIKE A BASEBALL BAT AGAINST A GIANT SEA MONSTER?! Yeah, you get that in this movie.
And the really good thing about this movie? There’s actually only enough plot in it to give us a little downtime between the brawls.
Actually, I think director Guillermo del Toro has made a lot of smart choices in this film. The first is that he managed to give us a movie that contains it’s own prequel. Seriously, there is enough background and story information in the first 30 minutes or so of this movie that in any other circumstances could have been stretched into a completely separate two-plus hour feature. Either that, or used to bloat this actually pretty compact film into another three hour or more time waster.
Another smart choice is the technique that he uses to give us just the amount of back story that we need, both on the various human characters and on the monsters in a way that is not only concise, but actually serves to move the plot along without tremendously bogging the movie down. I will admit I think we do spend a little too much time with one of the characters as a little girl, that could have lost a minute or two without sacrificing anything, but for the most part, I thought the balance was pretty spot on.
Speaking of the monsters, I also thought the various creature designs were really extremely good, with call-backs at times to giant monster movies of the past, but given some of the truly imaginative spins that anyone who has seen del Toro’s prevvious work would be expecting. There’s one creature in particular, the one featured in the previously mentioned back story scene that I thought was particularly effective.
And that creativity also extends to the designs of the various robots featured in the film. They vary just enough to show the design development over time and to make then distinguishable from one another, without resorting to Transformers style interchangeability where everything is a miasma of “look what we can do” whirling cogs and parts.
There’s one more choice that I absolutely have to give del Toro credit for, and that’s the way that he handled the scenes of destruction that are inevitable in this type of movie. By keeping most of the action in the ocean as the robots are meant to be a vanguard against the kaiju ever reaching land, he is able to avoid some of the devastation that these battles would incur, and when the fights do eventually reach land (as at some point they must) del Toro wisely moves his camera back or cuts away, rather than taking the route of say Man of Steel which seemed to revel in almost bludgeoning the viewer over the head with every little bit of what could almost be considered destruction porn.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Pacific Rim is a perfect movie. Far from it. In the end it really is just a big dumb fast paced grab your popcorn and don’t think about it too much action flick, but in that vein, for me at least, it completely succeeds. It’s also one that I think definitely needs to be seen at least once on the big screen, because it is a big movie, and I honestly don’t know how well it will survive a transfer to a television monitor or even smaller screens.
So go. Go, and sit back, and prepare to spend the next couple of hours just simply being entertained by a flick that really is this year’s action blockbuster.
But do me a favor, okay?
When you get done, and you come walking out of the theater. please don’t come to me and complain that “It’s nothing but giant robots hitting giant monsters.”
Because if you do, I’m going to simply laugh in your face and shake my head.
Just like I’ve been doing to my friend for about a week now.
- Film Review : Pacific Rim (thecleverdog.wordpress.com)
- Europa Report and Pacific Rim: Highbrow vs. Popcorn fun (lightsabersandsurfboards.wordpress.com)
- Review: Pacific Rim (2013) (monsterzeronj.wordpress.com)
- The Overblown Incoherence of ‘Pacific Rim’ (realiction.wordpress.com)