July 18, 2013

Giant Robots vs Giant Monsters - Our Eyeballs Win

I made it out to the theater last weekend to see Pacific Rim and that turned out to be a great decision. It is one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time. The fight sequences between giant monsters and giant robots were visually impressive and easy to follow. It might be a sign we have reached a sorry state when the ability to tell what the heck is going on is considered a positive, but this is where we are, and Pacific Rim does a great job.

The main storyline of Pacific Rim takes place in a future where alien beasts are emerging from a portal that opens up deep beneath the sea. They start appearing infrequently, and are taken down by tanks and jets, but only after they cause a ton of damage after making landfall. The world unites to start the Jager program. Giant robots are able to fight the monsters in the ocean before they are able to destroy anything. Over time the monsters get bigger, and they start coming more often, and it doesn’t look like the Jagers are going to cut it anymore.

The premise behind the story is straightforward and they never over-complicate things like so many sci-fi movies. At the same time, I wanted more from the plot. There was no question about how it was all going to play out. It is fine, but I always enjoy when a movie does something to surprise me.

The characters are pretty flat and there is a lot of cliché to be found. The Jager pilots are all stereotypical caricatures of their respective countries. The acting is pretty rough for most of the film. It worked for the most part, but there were a few times I cringed at the awkwardness. A lot of people have complained about the main guy’s voice-over, but I thought it was pretty good. While he might not be the best actor in the world, he has a good voice.

My least favorite part of Pacific Rim had to be the scientists. They were supposed to provide some comic relief, but I found them grating. I’m not sure why they had to be so ridiculous. Their side project comes back into play at the end, but I didn’t think it was worth the pain of watching them through the first three quarters.

As I think back on the movie now the whole thing seems pretty silly. It is a fun action movie with some AWESOME fight sequences, but it doesn’t offer a whole lot beyond that. Luckily a summer blockbuster like this doesn’t have to provide emotion and drama as long it is kicks butt. The action in Pacific Rim starts right away and feels like it never lets up. There was usually something really cool to look at on the screen.

The penultimate fight sequence is actually my favorite part of the whole movie. That big final battle is all out at sea and doesn’t have the same feeling of scale without the city buildings for reference. My only other complaint with the fights is that the robots and monsters will grapple and punch for a long time, meanwhile destroying the city. Then all the sudden the robot busts out a sweet weapon and ends it right there. I am not an expert in giant monster fighting strategy, so maybe there was a reason for the preliminary messing around, but it seemed unnecessary. I guess I shouldn't complain about getting to watch a little extra fighting.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Pacific Rim to anybody. It is a great time at the theater. I went to the 2D version, so I don’t know how good the 3D is. There is a lot to enjoy, and I feel okay about shelling out the big bucks to buy a theater ticket. I’d actually love to see it again, but I would want to fast-forward though a lot of parts[1]. As I was walking out of the theater I heard a woman say, “That was really good… like a cross between Transformers and Real Steel.” I don’t know how you could pass up something that gets an endorsement like that.

  1. Including every moment involving scientists or building giant walls.  ↩

Filed Under: , , ,