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Published July 25th 2013
Japanese monster movie made mainstream, yay, tongue twisters
The basic premise of Pacific Rim is that monsters have emerged from a portal in the Pacific Ocean in the future and humanity decided to make gigantic robots known as Jaegers to punch them in the face. This is not a fanciful expression: most of the action revolves around head punching, much like a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert, scaled up to scenic cityscape and oceanic vistas against glowing dinosaurs. And it does this well.
Pacific Rim is the offspring of Japanese monster films and anime polished with modern CGI and dressed in a lean, action heavy plot. I think you should go into the cinema with certain expectations if you want to enjoy this movie. The characters are stereotypes and barely developed, and other than a barely tenable allegory to natural disasters with the Kaiju being classed in Categories in direct proportion to their size, there are not much ideas to digest here. However, if you're entertaining the idea of seeing Pacific Rim you're probably here for the action, which is good because that is the point of the film.
Just to prove I was there. The cinema was emptier than a Lawn Bowls Convention
The action is the beauty of controlled demolition. It takes a certain mindset to appreciate, but none can deny its sheer magnitude and scale. Monsters and robots collide like childhood imagination and adult sensibilities, crumpling buildings, hammering craters in roads. Scaly flesh ripples and crunches on impact from seismic fists, debris bleeds like hailstones from the Jaegers' plating. This is low budget Japanese monster movie making scaled up, made mainstream and given $190 million to work with. This is Summer blockbuster material breaking free of current thematically grim-dark Dark Knight-esque trends. This is an epic of yore, free of moral ambiguity with the underlying message of cooperation for survival. This is a tale of modern knights slaying their dragons. This is Sparta. I mean, this is Pacific Rim.
Characters are about as generic as they look. Except for Ron Pearlman and the scientists. We need more close-ups of Ron Pearlman's face. Taken from: www.rottentomatoes.com
Nothing is wasted in this film. The characterisation is integrated into the fast-paced plot. As the Jaegers need two pilots to cooperate through a 'neural handshake' their relationship is fundamental to how well the robots fight, and all the generic characters have to overcome their respective mental traumas and differences to close the portal via nuclear payload delivery, like giant metal postmen. The side plot of the scientists attempting to procure an intact monster brain to mind-meld with it much like how Jaeger pilots do is linked with intelligence gathering for the portal mission. Through its efficient plot, it also shows how human beings have built homes around Kaiju bones and have made action figures of them, the setting feels realistic, battered. Technology is weathered, lived in.
I predict this movie will be fondly remembered for its durable simplicity. I also predict a drinking game where you take a shot of Jagermeister every time someone mentions 'Jaeger.' And like in the movie, cooperation and mutual assistance will be necessary if you don't want anyone to die.