Director: Guillermo Del Toro Writer: Travis Beacham, Guillermo Del Toro Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi Running Time: 132 Minutes Year: 2013
A fleet of giant monsters attack the planet, and humans create giant robots to defeat them. Who doesn’t want to see that played out on the big screen? It’s every fanboy’s dream, from the early Godzilla romps through Tokyo, to Cloverfield. An extinction event at the hands of scaly gargantuans from the deep is enough to whet the appetite of even the casual viewer. It screams of fun.
For the most part, Pacific Rim grabs hold of that idea and runs with it. Shrugging off the notion that mankind’s biggest threat should come from a saucer of googly-eyed uglies, instead these beasties, called Kaiju, are purged from a giant gash in the ocean’s floor. You won’t forget what it’s called as it’s mentioned in practically every line of dialogue. The Breach, a glittery gash that even Liberace probably would’ve had a stab at, is the target for the human resistance’s nuclear bomb. A wealth of robots (who share a similarity to Tony Stark’s Ironsuit) manned by two pilots called Jaegers are the military answer to the anarchistic behemoths.
Watching the first battle between Kaiju and Jaeger is damn fun. It’s big, it’s brash, and the sheer magnitude of the monsters is staggering. Those desperate wishes to see more of the Cloverfield baddie have been heard. The lengthy set pieces when the two collide are some of the most captivating sequences in cinema this year. If you like big monster movies.
Sadly, it’s monstrous ambition is to the detriment of every other quality film should aspire to contain. It’s a giant man vs. monster tussle spread across two hours of the silliest contrivances committed to celluloid. What it does boast is a quick-off-the-mark story, that wastes no time in heaving out a giant information dump all over the audience. Exposition isn’t shown here but rather spewed out continuously. Not sure what’s happening? (And of course, you’d have to have left the cinema, possibly to have a nap in your car, to not follow its simple plottings.) Hey, don’t despair! One of the characters will helpfully reiterate what’s going on. While shouting. In the space of ten minutes, our lead manages to shriek “let’s take this son of a bitch down!” about three times. Yes, we get it, you’re a badass. Yes, you’re going to “do this.” Get on with it and enough of the chatter!
That in itself is a bigger insult to the film’s characters, who’re treated like dimwits who need to be updated every five minutes. Two scientists who are touted to be experts in their field, waste time and threaten the lives of the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE by taking a helicopter ride to relay information. You know, instead of using their phones.
The cumbersome chunks of dialogue could have been assembled from the culled offcuts of Fast & Furious 6, which itself left in a ton of crap. It reeks of lazy screenwriting. Beating the audience over the head with a point that needs to be hammered home is preferred here. Instead of weaving it into the dynamics of a scene it’s clumsily wielded in conversation. A speech intended to rouse the troops falls flat on account of it having been accomplished countless times before. Oh, and it was in the trailer.
“Cumbersome chunks of dialogue could have been assembled from the culled offcuts of Fast & Furious 6.”
Pacific Rim somehow manages to slip underneath its layers of vomit-inducing sanctimony a handful of recognisable cinematic robberies. It steals a well-known quip from Star Wars that even I noticed (and I don’t like Star Wars), monster motivation from Prometheus, and bodily-fluid-as-acid tactic from Alien. Don’t they have someone to check this kind of thing?
The cheap steals don’t end there. Awkward, decades old stereotypes which border on racist are elbowed in (with the exception of all the Americans, who are like, super cool.) A stuffy British scientist comes out with nonsense like “By jove, I’ll certainly be willing to give it a damn good try” when his younger, hipper American counterpart goes in for a high five. An Asian woman who is barely permitted a full line of dialogue shies away from a shirtless man. Two brutish Australians are soft as shit beneath their steely demeanour. Really? REALLY? Aren’t we passed all of this casual gimmickry? Apparently not.
Pacific Rim could have shown the other summer competition who was boss. Instead it rented a bunch of shitty genre movies, dosed Godzilla with steroids and gave its screenwriters the afternoon off.
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