What I'm Watching: Pacific Rim
Caught an afternoon showing of what may be my most anticipated movie of the summer, Pacific Rim!
Why was THIS, of all things, highly anticipated? Well, it's from Del Toro, a favourite of mine, as anyone who frequents Trisk knows, that's right off the bat. I also have a big amount of respect for Godzilla and friends, even if I'm not super well versed in the lore. I know the general specifics like everyone, but never got THAT into the kaiju fandom, mostly just on the periphary. Plus, giant robots. And a great, headlined by the often-amazing Idris Elba.
But, probably most importantly, the movie is not a remake, it's not a sequel, it's not an adaptation. It has its roots in the kaiju genre, and the mech genre, and you can see that DNA, so it's hard to call this an ORIGINAL idea, or unique, but it is its own thing, even if it owes a lot to the past.
All that being said, I guess that brings us around to the big question; so how WAS the movie??
The movie was REALLY good.
It's not mind blowing, it's not twisty and turny, and it does owe a lot to the past, but it takes those past bits, and while it's straightforward, it tells its story well, and sets up the characters well.
The story is set in the near future, after a rift to another plane of existence opens up at the bottom of the Pacific Oean, through which giant monsters come through to rampage our coastal cities all along the Pacific Rim. After a few cities become rubble, the governments band together and create the Jaegers, gigantic robots piloted by humans to deal with the problem.
Admittedly, that's a big leap, but hey, you knew that going in, so you either accept it or went to the wrong movie. If you can accept that, you are in for quite a ride. The opening scene setting up the universe and giving you the backstory really does the job of explaining things to the audience, and really draws you in nicely.
I really liked their take on the mechs, needing two pilots to manage everything, the tech required, and even how it ties into the Kaiju themselves and even how its used with the enemy.
The movie has a lot of plot threads, and all of them are given equal time, giving most of the major players a moment. I really like a movie that has a lot of things going on, and tying them all together to the central plot in the end. You kinda see where everything is going, but the journey is most enjoyable.
My biggest complaint is their one attempt at a twist, when they reveal that the plan to destroy the breach won't work. Normally a twist like that goes along the lines of, the bad guys see it coming and will have it work to their benefit or to our detrement, but it's just, "We have intel that it won't work, just like all our other attempts!"
But it DOES give our side intel on HOW to make it work, so it works on that level, at least.
The movie does suffer a bit from the same problem that plagues the Transformers movies that you get a little too close to the action and it becomes hard to follow, but nowhere near as bad as that, since you at least have giant robots that aren't a mass of sharp pointy tiny metal shards, and mixed in with fighting solid, fleshy monsters that glow. Both of these help manage that issue tremendously. But a little less downpour would have helped even more.
It's nice that a movie that's all about cities getting holy hell stomped out of them, that this movie still manages to be bright, and not too dour. A very stark contrast to Man of Steel, which gets to be a bit grey in the cinemtography, and didn't have much humour. Pacific Rim used a lot of bright (But not Batman and Robin bright) colours to punch things up, both in the robots, the monsters, and the landscapes. You can't have Hong Kong without neon lights, right? Also, there's a good sense of humour amongst all the heroes, but not a black comedy sort of thing, as one might expect from anyone REALLY going through a decade or two of these attacks.
Things look bleak for humanity in the story, but the visuals and characters keep it refreshingly and enjoyably light.
The movie has a lot of heart, and the characters play well off one another, letting you get to know most everyone you need to know, and their personalities, before the big robot fighting kicks in. This was a good balance of action and character, and I never felt like things got too draggy with pacing, since I enjoyed watching the humans as much as the robots.
If you are a fan of Godzilla or giant mechs, you pretty much HAVE to see this movie. It's not an amazing, life altering movie, but it is good, well writen, and perfectly solid action adventure. And it's something new and different. Go see it!