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Author Topic: Pacific Rim (B+)  (Read 4037 times)
dnwilliams
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« on: July 08, 2013, 09:04:37 AM »



It seems like Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro is attached to a new project every other week. So many that it wouldn't be humanly possible to make them all. At The Mountains of Madness and his version of The Hobbit came the closest to actually materialising, but it's Pacific Rim that sees the monster-loving Mexican return to multiplexes after a five year absence, and it's fair to say that the movie has generated a considerable amount of excitement amongst cinema-goers of a geeky persuasion.



Pacific Rim, appropriately enough for a film about people in giant robot suits (Jaegers) punching monsters the size of skyscrapers (Kaiju), gets off to a pretty clunky start. It's front loaded with exposition establishing the history of the Kaiju-Jaeger war through narration from Charlie Hunnam's cocky Jaeger co-pilot Raleigh. It’s quite simple: giant monsters came out of subaquatic inter-dimensional rift and kept attacking us, so we built giant robot suits to stop them. Or at least knock some sense into them. It’s the kind of thing that you can gather from watching the action unfold, so the voice over feels unnecessary and more than a little clumsy. Considering del Toro is on record as being a fan of the narrated version of Blade Runner, maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise… There's also a time jump early on that doesn't convey the passage of time terribly well. This isn’t the deft storytelling you'd expect from del Toro, but luckily there’s a pretty awesome Jaeger/Kaiju fight to distract from it all, and it gets the setup out of the way for all the relationship drama. No, I don't mean it gets the set up out of the way for the mech-punching-monster action, that's all there of course, in spades, but not before Pacific Rim hits the breaks so that you can get a feel for the (admittedly thin) characters and how they relate to one another. It may not sound like this is a good thing – but it is a good thing. You see, there’s a third component to Pacific Rim. In addition to the Jaegers and the Kaiju there’s also The Drift, a neural al link that allows the Jaegers to be piloted by two human beings who wouldn’t be able to handle the mental stress individually. The drift concept is just as important as the pandimensional havoc-wreakers and their giant metal rivals, and that's pretty ingenious. The stuff that can be halfheartedly shoehorned in to a lot of effects movies, the relationships and the motivations, are made a focal point of the ACTION as well as the plot.

The heart of the movie is Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako, who ties the man behind the Jaeger offensive Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and Raleigh together, and is very motivated to attack the Kaiju. She’s the best thing in the film, and that’s some consolation for a film seriously lacking in female characters. Frequent del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman steals scenes as a black market salesman of Kaiju parts, and he's a great example of how nicely realised the world of Pacific rim is. There’s one performance that grates quite a bit, a scientist named Gottlieb played by Burn Gorman - it's very cartoonish but it WANTS to be, it just won’t be for everyone.  The same could be said for the film itself, it embraces every childish impulse and runs with it - there's one moment in particular where a Jaeger punches through a building, that ends with the a random sight gag that just lets the viewer know exactly what kind of movie they're watching. Hint: it's a cool one. It's hard to say how many people new to this genre will embrace it. Those who haven't written small essays on dark corners of the internet regarding their feelings about the endings of Evangelion and The Big O. those who haven't practised their Godzilla roar in the privacy of their own home. It might not hit the same sweet spot for the uninitiated, but it should still have plenty of appeal. If it does, I’d bank on a Power Rangers reboot and a Marvel movie starring Fin Fang Foom coming your way in the not too distant future.

Right at the beginning of Pacific Rim we're shown how normalised the war has become, as children play with action figures of the Kaiju and Jaegers (which isn't all that crazy considering all the soldier toys available in real life). It's a nice nod to the inherent joy of this kind of movie, it's like you went over to a friend’s house as a kid and they had ALL the coolest toys. It’s like you formed a neural link with Guillermo del Toro, and you’re privy to all of his thoughts, from the unexpected recurring motif of holding a single shoe whilst in a state of panic, to insane looking monsters and incredible robot-on-monster action. It really is a love letter to Japan, from anime to men-in-rubber-suits films. You’ll love every minute.

B+
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dnwilliams
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2013, 09:22:56 AM »

Made some hasty edits :/
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dalmatianjaws
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 02:04:47 PM »

Nice work! Very jealous. I'm hoping to see this for my birthday. Might dig out my old G.I. Joes and bring them along!
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dnwilliams
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 02:17:53 PM »

I hope you enjoy it! It's a bit more straightforward in terms of plot than I'd hoped, I have to admit, which is the only thing that held it back for me other than the one scientist character and the opening, but there's a lot to love if you're so inclined.
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dnwilliams
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 11:13:10 AM »

There's quite a good review on Indiewire
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