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Ten Word or Less Review BIG MONSTERS!  BIG ROBOTS!  little people.

The ads and trailers to Pacific Rim left everyone with the vivid impression that director Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) was crafting a monster movie for the ages.  300 foot tall robots, AKA Jaegers.  300 foot tall monsters, AKA Kaiju.  Thousands of people and big cities in the way of the two engaging in fisticuffs.  Cue up the mayhem.  But what the trailers skipped over was any pesky human element.  I saw a few fleeting images of some actors in goofy suits and Idris Elba declaring that the Apocalypse had been cancelled.  Sorry, no refunds.  But would Del Toro, a great writer of character and story, really abandon his fundamental strengths for nothing more than pure, unadulterated robot on monster carnage?  The answer is a profound yes.  So if you’re okay with that, prepare to be blissed out while watching Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim is about absolutely nothing other than 300 ft gargantuan adversaries beating the crap out of each other.  And don’t get me wrong, that’s not an insult.  When these behemoths do battle the movie achieves a level of epic no other contemporary special effects effort can match.  Iron Man can suck it.  And unlike another mucho hyped director of oversized robot destruction, name begins with B, ends in Y and has an A in the middle, Del Toro loves to photograph his action in clean, easy to follow action.  His army of special effects wizards have created stunning CGI imagery, so why chop the film up like it’s being processed through a blender and make it impossible to appreciate?  His ability to reflect the scale of his robot and monster creations is a sight to behold and is easily the glue that holds an otherwise rickety movie together.  And that rickety side can be hard to ignore.

To describe the plot would only take a couple of succinct sentences but Del Toro and story creator Travis Beacham’s screenplay labors under unnecessary pressure of trying to explain its overtly simple and silly scenario.  Aliens open rift under the ocean.  They send big monsters to destroy our cities.  We create big robots to stop them.  They fight.  The ending of The Avengers and Independence Day hangs heavy in the air.  Roll credits.  Rim expends far too much narrative effort to make sure the audience not only understands the scenario, but piles on even more effort for inner workings that aren’t nearly as interesting as the filmmakers think they are.  All this explanation feels unnecessary and drawn out.  We’re here to experience a 2500 ton robot smash a giant monster in the head with an oil tanker and when that happens, it’s awesome.  To fuss so much over ‘drifting’, the mind melding process which allows two people to operate a giant robot, starts to get old fast.  At 2 hours plus Pacific Rim could use some tightening.

Del Toro’s ability to create emotionally compelling characters has also been purposefully left off the table.  This is a guy who created an awesome character out of smoke, so to see him slip into this level of perfunctory character creation is a let down.  Within the confines of Rim he’s pouring his massive budget into his robot/monster battles and his visual efforts into the spectacle as a whole.  What we’re left with on the human scale is a group of passable performers wrangled up from the likes of the FX network.  Star Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) is serviceable as the typical hero character who comes with standard issue back story.  The guy could be any lead in any action movie and he’d be the same.  Idris Elba (The Wire) carries the movie on his back with a firm determination and presence that makes you wonder why he’s not the star.  Charlie Day (Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood) are a pair of kooky, misbegotten scientist characters meant to channel an offbeat sense of humor but they’re a bit of a misfire.  If anything they distract more than any one other part.   Japanese actress Rinko Kinkuchi (Babel) rounds out the leads by handling herself just well enough to not be totally overshadowed by all the giant workings surrounding her.  Del Toro muse Ron Perlman (Hellboy) only gets to steal a few scenes as a sleazy peddler of black market monster parts.

I guess Pacific Rim is about the best an audience can expect during this particular summer movie season.  It’s huge and mindless and goofy but just fun and unique enough to enjoy.  Despite it’s shortcomings it never irks or plods or insults the viewer too directly.  I think its creators know quite well what they were making and one hopes that should a second adventure materialize, the robot gloves will come off.  They’ll be free to take their enormous instruments of destruction and go truly bonkers, sparing us the whys and the hows.  We don’t really want that.  We’re here for the monsters and robots.  The rest doesn’t have to be window dressing, but alas it is.

pacific rim

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One Comment

  1. you have a fantastic blog right here! would you like to make some invite articles on my blog?


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