Today We Are Cancelling the Apocalypse!
When I saw my first trailers for today’s movie, I confess to having no real interest in it. It seemed like a big, dumb action movie directed by a person who has a fairly low percentage of movies that actually interested me. But when the movie finally came out, I heard a lot of glowing reviews for it, most notably for me from my roommate Richurd, who saw the movie and lauded its fantastic action scenes. Even though that only supported my idea that it was a big, dumb action movie, it did intrigue me. When my friend Forty then proposed the idea that we go see a movie, it instantly became my primary suggestion. Especially since nothing else of interest was out at the time. Let’s see how it went as I review Pacific Rim, written by Travis Beacham, co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, and starring Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Diego Klattenhoff, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Ellen McLain, and most importantly Max the English Bulldog.
Sometime in the near future, an interdimensional rift opens up on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, releasing giant alien monsters called Kaijus onto the people of Earth, especially those living next to the ocean. Instead of deciding to move away from the beaches, Earth decides to build giant robotic suits called Jaegers to battle the monsters. The strain of controlling the Jaegers is too much for any one person’s mind, so they develop a system wherein two people that are mentally compatible can control the suits as one. Two such pilots are Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff). On one of their missions, a particularly nasty Kaiju rips into the helmet of the Jaeger, pulling Yancy to his death. Raleigh takes a couple years off to cope. Eventually, Raleigh’s former commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) shows up with his pretty Asian lady Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) to try to tempt Raleigh back into his Jaeger for one last ditch effort to close the portal and seal the Kaijus away once and for all. In order to keep the movie interesting, things don’t go exactly as planned.
I was definitely right about this movie being a big, dumb action movie, but it is a big, dumb action movie in all the best ways. I’m going to break from standard RRS protocols and talk about the action of the movie first because, let’s be honest, that’s the reason to see this movie. And it definitely makes the movie worth it. The action is fantastic, and never that far away. The movie is visually fantastic, and it definitely doesn’t seem like they took the easy way out on any of it. It’s probably hard enough to create a giant monster fighting a giant robot, but just to kick that up a notch you’re going to have it take place in the middle of the water? While it’s raining? And have to deal with all the water physics on top of the rest of it? Well, they pulled that off successfully, but certainly focusing so much on the visuals of the movie would make other things in the movie – such as the sound – suffer from neglect, right? Nuh-uh! The sound effects really made the punches feel epic. They really captured the feeling I’ve felt so many times in my life while watching giant robots fight giant monsters. Basically, this movie seemed fully aware of what it was. It wasn’t going to bother with the story, so let’s have this action be over the top. One of the Jaegers uses a freighter ship like a baseball bat! I would have to say, part of my brain took issue with this. They do not build ships that well! Haven’t you seen Titanic? Just the front half of that thing lifts up and it splits in half! But this one is going to not only survive being dragged down the street, but also be sturdy enough to smash against a monster’s face a few times? I did appreciate that, when that stopped working out for them, that Gipsy Danger was able to go all Voltron and pull out a sword like the one Ivy carries in Soul Calibur. And I would say I definitely did NOT appreciate the gag they pulled with the kinetic balls. It was corny and it made my kinetic balls hurt. And though it was cool to watch in the movie, I would say that I would definitely recommend against headbutting while in the Jaegers. You guys live in there! But they did it and it worked out well for them, so it’s okay.
The story is fairly basic. It’s not bad, but there’s not a whole lot to say about its quality. I guess what I would say about it is that the story successfully filled the spaces between giant creatures punching each other. One of the bigger issues I took early on in the movie is that the government was trying to get rid of the fairly successful Jaeger program in exchange for a continuously failing “giant wall” program. That’s your big fix? When we first see the wall, it’s introduced with a Kaiju busting right through it. Good call, government. It’s not like you’ve ever built anything that’s already running that the Kaiju’s cannot tear through like they’re made of toilet paper. And that can also punch back instead of just hoping that the Kaiju’s get bored of your drab walls and go home. One thing I liked about this movie is how being in each other’s brains as Jaeger pilots helped eliminate the need for exposition. Characters don’t really need to find sweaty ways to throw in their back story when we can just jump into their brains and watch it happen instead.
The performances all succeeded. They did not blow my mind, but they did great for what was required out of them for the movie. Charlie Hunnam carried the movie pretty successfully. He made a good hero, but he’d make a really shitty doctor. I base that almost entirely on the fact that he decides he needs to check the pulse of one of the monsters after defeating it and thinks that the best way to do that is to shoot it in the chest a few times. It made me really nervous later when one of the human characters might have been dead, but I think someone else decided to take over and used the tried and true fingers to the neck technique. Rinko Kikuchi also did a good job carrying her part of the movie. I got irritated at Idris Elba in parts of the movie, but it may have mostly been because he was the authority figure and I’m such a rebel. It may also have been when he said that Raleigh and Mako weren’t physically compatible enough to run a Jaeger together. Are you kidding me? Nature made them physically compatible, if you know what I’m saying. WINK WINK! He did win me back at the end when he delivered a speech that felt like it was right out of Independence Day, basically just exchanging “Today we celebrate our Independence Day” for “Today we’re cancelling the apocalypse.” Not because it was a particularly riveting or well-written speech, but because I like Independence Day. Charlie Day was pretty entertaining in the movie, and I definitely agreed with what I had read about him doing his best Rick Moranis impression for parts of the performance. I also found it amusing when he barely escaped death when the baby Kaiju strangled itself with its umbilical cord. He was saved by SIDS! Not so bad after all, is it? I did find his partner (played by Burn Gorman) annoying more often than not, and not just because he did the worst job of miming typing on a keyboard that I’ve ever seen. He basically just slapped it with his open palms a few times and decided that he had successfully programmed something. I also thought Robert Kazinsky did a good job in the movie, but his character was far from likeable. That’s what he was going for though. He was to this movie what Val Kilmer was to Top Gun. Basically just the hotshot asshole rival of the hero of the movie. As much as I liked the cast of the movie, I think one performance stole the show for me: the English bulldog named Max. I had been warned about his presence before seeing the movie and, with the recent loss of my own English bulldog, it may have been painful to watch. And it kind of was, but you cannot really be sad while looking at one of those faces. I would actually consider him to be the hero of the movie. I mean, you need something to fight for in these movies, right? What better to fight for than one of those smushie faces?!
Pacific Rim was basically what I expected it to be, but all of those things were amped up to the point of excellence. The story was negligible, but not bad. And the performances were all great, but not mind-blowing. What really sells this movie is the action, which is huge, frequent, and exciting. That and the English bulldog. And because of those things (and mainly the bulldog), I am definitely recommending you get to a theater to check this out. You could wait to get it on BluRay, but I feel like you cannot possibly have a home theater setup in your home that would match the scale of the movie. Pacific Rim gets “Where would you rather die? Here, or in a Jaeger?” out of “Fortune favors the brave, dude.”
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