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Pacific Rim - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Pacific Rim
Directing: C+
Acting: B-
Writing: C-
Cinematography: C+
Editing: C+
Special Effects: B

If you're going to gripe about the dimension-crossing lapses in logic in a movie like Pacific Rim, it's difficult even to know where to start. But I can't help myself. I have to start somewhere. For instance, this movie is set in a near-ish future in which alien monsters have decimated cities, and continue to do so regularly, and yet somehow the cities are intact until a scene calls for a fight that knocks over buildings and bridges. Why the hell are there construction cranes? This seems like a misdirection of resources. That and an opportunity for a crane to be used as a weapon in alien-hand-to-robot-hand combat.

This is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many levels to how preposterous this movie is, it's like a Russian nesting doll of preposterous ideas. Clearly, as far as director (and co-writer) Guillermo del Toro is concerned, that's the point: he took a concept he knew the target audience would love -- giant robots fighting giant monsters -- and ran with it, building a story (such as it is) from that. In spite of a few fun comic touches, what's really disappointing here is the complete lack of del Toro's darkly exotic sensibility. You'll find none of the dark wonder of Pan's Labyrinth or any of the demonic humor of Hellboy here -- instead, it's pretty much wall-to-wall pandering to prepubescent boys who are likely to devour this movie's massive merchandising potential.

Okay, actually the domestic box office in the two weeks since its release has thus far fallen far short of its $180 million (!) production budget. Don't forget worldwide ticket sales -- gotta set a bunch of scenes, including a massive action sequence, in and around Hong Kong to pander to the Chinese audience. Check!

Does it even matter that there are actors in this movie? For those who care, there's at least one gratuitous shirtless shot of Charlie Hunnan. I don't recall any even half-naked women in the movie, actually. I guess that tips the scales a tad compared to most movies. Yay for gender equality! Except, of course, every single notable part in this movie went to a man, with one exception: Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi plays Charlie Hunnan's partner and maybe (you think?) love interest. They discover themselves to be what they call "drift compatible" -- they discover a bond that allows them to copilot a "Jaeger," one of the massive robots built to combat the "Kaijus" -- the alien monsters that are coming from a "breach" on the Pacific Ocean floor that allows them to enter our world from another dimension. It never quite makes sense why two people are apparently necessary to pilot these Jaegers -- linking their brains and all their memories -- but it allows for some obligatory drama.

Okay, so yes, this movie is action-packed. But I got bored almost immediately. How could that be? White House Down was similarly dumb, but slightly better -- but why? This is the key difference: dumb as it was, White House Down never got tedious. Pacific Rim gets tedious within minutes, concerning itself almost entirely with mass destruction and little else. It's the same defect from which Man of Steel suffered. Too much action -- specifically, smashing of skyscrapers -- and not enough story. Even cornball stories can be fun. This movie is about as cornball as it gets, but not even that gets enough room to breathe.

There is one scene in which a dying Kaiju gives birth, and that's a little weird and fun. Okay I'll give it some del Toro points for that. And then there's Charlie Day as the little-guy (but cool) geek scientist who figures out a way to mind-meld with a dead Kaiju's brain. Honestly I don't even really know where to go with that, except that Day and his sparring with Ron Pearlman (of course) as a Hong Kong crime boss are easily the best parts of the movie. Charlie Hunnan and Rinko Kikuchi, as the primary characters, never give us much reason to care about them -- because they are the puppet masters of the massive robots that we came to see.

Pacific Rim does get much more exciting about halfway through the movie, with some far-better showcased fights between the Jaegers and the Kaijus. This is actually the most fun to watch when they are fighting in the bay, with no other distractions. But, inevitably, these fights always have to move into the city -- in this case Hong Kong -- maybe as the umpteenth cinema nod to Godzilla? Yawn. You want to see a truly fresh take on Godzilla, watch 2008's Cloverfield. That movie's human characters weren’t interesting either, but at least it had focus: on one monster, on one city, with clever editing and presentation.

But, whatever. I'm sure the producers of Pacific Rim had visions of little boys re-enacting fights between Jaeger and Kaiju action figures. And adults being taken back to what that felt like. Even the guy who took our tickets said, "You're gonna love it. You feel like you're in a Saturday morning cartoon!" Actually I felt more like I was in a tedious action movie stuck on repeat, but to each their own.

The humans are outmatched by alien monsters in 'Pacific Rim' -- OR ARE THEY?

Overall: C+
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: November 25th, 2014 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Godzilla and Pacific Rim should make a crossover, where gipsy danger saves the day in the end again.
1 comment or Leave a comment