Film Review: Pacific Rim

Rating: ratings-3-5
Pacific Rim theatrical poster

The company I work for takes us to the movies (with free food and drinks, too) every so often, and this time we went to see Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

I’ll admit that I got excited about someone making a live-action giant robot movie, but I did have my doubts about how a non-Japanese director would execute it. I left the movie house with lot of mixed feelings about the film.

The Plot

From the official site:

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

The Good Bits:

Gipsy Danger wallpaper

The whole concept of Jaegers is pretty cool. I like how they worked around how syncing with a Jaeger is too much for a single human brain to handle by requiring two pilots to split the neural load between separate left and right brain hemispheres. This type of pilot-syncing-with-giant-robot-thing has always been interesting to me, and including the added drama of having to sync with another human being just makes it even more appealing to me. And the Jaegers look pretty spiffy, too.

Some movies just don’t get giant robot fight scenes right, but Pacific Rim did. The fight sequences were wicked fun. I rarely ever make any sounds while watching movies, but watching the Jaegers fighting the Kaiju got me shrieking and cheering and gasping at every turn.

The Bad Bits:

The characters were flat, boring, and cliche. There were attempts to earn my sympathy here and there, but none of them really worked for me. The closest thing they got from me was an “aww” when one of them was saying goodbye to his son. I probably would have liked Mako better if not for the next complaint I have about this film.

A screenshot of Mako Mori in Pacific Rim
Screenshot from PacificRim-Movie.net

The romance did absolutely nothing for the story. This was my first reaction when the movie ended. The love story between Mako and Raleigh was completely unnecessary and poorly executed. I (and some of my officemates) cringed whenever the two lovebirds started showing affection to one another. I think Mako would have been a stronger, more effective, and far more respectable female lead if she didn’t get all doe-eyed over this guy she barely even knows. It was like she was fangirling over this guy she read so much about in her studies. Being the owner of a domain called Fangirlisms, I should probably understand her in that regard, but come on. If being a fangirl was a requirement to become a female lead in a Guillermo del Toro movie, I’d probably be in a couple of films by now.

An Aside:

lot of people have been comparing Pacific Rim to Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I don’t really see the point. They do have similarities and both play on the same tropes, sure, but these are two entirely different animals.  This post on io9 can probably explain this better than I can.

[Edit: I was just chatting with a friend of mine, and he said it’s “more like mecha Ultraman“, and I think he’s right.]

The Verdict

Pacific Rim is a fun film if you don’t take it too seriously, but in all honesty, great graphics and concept always go to waste without a solid story and cast of characters to back it up. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a dose of action and special effects eyecandy and is willing to brave boring dialogue and sappy romance scenes to get it.

2 thoughts

  1. After that snore-fest known as Lone Ranger, I’m just glad to get a movie that’s fun and knows what it is. For better or worse. Good review.

    1. Thanks! Our company actually asked us to choose between Pacific Rim and Lone Ranger. Now I’m glad the latter didn’t win the poll!

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