Friday, July 12, 2013

Pacific Rim

One simple thing is all I ask of even the most cheesy of movies, please keep me in the world of the movie.  Once I am jerked out of the movie's world then my perception and judgement of the movie becomes more critical.

With del Toro's new movie Pacific Rim I was jerked out from the onset.  When in the opening a kaiju is simply defined as a giant beast.  Under this loose interpretation King Kong and the dinosaur from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms are kaiju not just Gojira, Rodan, Gamera, and King Ghidorrah to name a few.

Another problem is making connections of scenes from this movie to other movies.  Riley and Mori remind me of Kodai and Yoko from Space Battleship Yamato.  The brash Australian Jaeger pilot reminds me of Iceman from Top Gun.  The Level Four kaiju dragging Gipsy Danger on the ground and carrying it into the air, too many skirmishes between Gojira and Rodan or King Ghiddorah.  When Gipsy Danger deploys it's sword, it will be hard not to think of Ivy from Soul Caliber and her sword.  The sub-sea rift is either inspired by X The Unknown or since we are talking an inter-dimensional rift then perhaps Battle Fairy Yukikaze.  The transport of the Jaegers by airlift and how the pilots synchronize reminds me of Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Once you see the ending you will go that's almost Independence Day.

The reduced science team is the most annoying thing in the movie.  Which is saying something since Ron Perlman is playing the guy who runs a black market selling kaiju parts.  One part of the team is this cliched crippled stiff upper lift British boffin, all he was missing was a pipe.  The other one the boffin called a 'kaiju groupie.'  Think of Rick Moranis' character in Ghostbusters but loves playing with the guts of alien creatures and getting tattoos of them put on his body.  At one point the boffin is madly playing with his chalkboards before the Jaeger commander while the groupie was sitting just a  few feet away without any protective gear tossing kaiju entrails on the floor.  At a guess they are supposed to be a bit of comic relief, but they are also the science team.  They might be a split version of Brent Spiner's scientist character from Independence Day. The British one is a far cry from Dean Jagger's Dr. Royston from X The Unknown or Prof. Quatermass from The Creeping Unknown.

Which brings me to another problem with this movie.  Earth has tried to seal the undersea rift before and has failed.  And until the science team rushes to Shatterdome to give the Jaegers the critical information they need to travel the rift, it seems they were just going to do the same thing they have tried before and failed.  That sounds too much like insanity and suicide all rolled into one though it could also be called a plan of desperation - a kamikaze move.

I will mention one other thing that bugged me in this movie and give it a rest.  Gipsy Danger is fighting a kaiju in Hong Kong that spits acid.  Audience goers have seen this acid partially dissolve another Jaeger and instantly dissolve the facade of a skyscraper.  So when Gipsy Danger grapples with the kaiju and Riley reaches into the mouth and rips its tongue out without dissolving Gipsy Danger's hand, it is another moment of being jerked out of the movie by a lack of internal consistency. 

Overall I would grade it as a B movie.


Anonymous said...

These are... interesting criticisms, and not at all what I would have expected.

The definition of Kaiju is correct. King Kong IS, in fact, a Kaiju.

The movie is chock full of homages and references to other works, although not necessarily all that you listed, and probably many more that you didn't. There comes a point where you have to wonder whether all the references you 'caught' were just association with themes, characters, or tropes in other movies and outright shout-outs to other media.

This movie is an American Anime in live-action form. Del Toro admits to being a fan of the genre and wanting to do something like this for a long time, and this is basically the ultimate fanboy movie he always wanted to make.

The reduced science team is indeed supposed to be comic relief, as is "Hannibal Chau". In the former case, it makes perfect sense as to why they have these two goofballs instead of a dedicated science crew--they are working underground on their own time and resources instead of being granted huge amounts by world governments. Elba's character specifically states this, and it later mentioned by Perlman's that they receive a cut of the money made from the Kaiju organ sales that barely keeps them afloat. They can't afford a full science crew, they can only afford to provide equipment to those who WANT to be there, and those two scientists are the only ones who seem willing to be there at all (math guy to prove his theories, Kaiju Kid for his love of the giant monsters).

As for sealing the rift, this is called out in the movie too. The 'math science' guy explains to Elba's character that they have only attacked it while it was in a 'dormant' state, and that they can perhaps attack it when it is opened to allow the Kaiju to pass, collapsing it as it does so. It's a slim chance, but they literally have no other choice as the few Jaegers that they have are all that are left. It's only later that the silly science crew figures out how to pass through and gives that information to the main characters. In both cases it's assumed to be a suicide run, and all the pilots who go into it specifically admit to knowing this but want to take the risk anyway.

That last moment involving the rift is very Independence Day. I can't see it being accidental.

As for the acid-sprayer ("Otochi" or something similar?), watch carfully. Its "tongue" works as a hose, and sprays the flourescent acid in a directed stream when it swells the storage sacs on its neck. Gipsy Danger grabbed it BY the tongue, squeezing and pulling it out by the roots. It's the same thing as crimping the end of the water hose to stop the flow when watering your lawn, and they did it on purpose so it couldn't use its acid spray attack any more. The creature has to choose to use its attack and at that point, without a tongue, all it would do is fill the insides of its own mouth.

If you want criticisms, go with the real-world truths ignored by the movie, such as the square-cubed law, the lack of combined arms, or the silly thought that just because aliens appear for some reason all the people of Earth would unite in common friendship rather than continue to bicker, backstab, and betray each other.

CDR M said...

I see your points but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. My theaters sound system was so good, your seat and body shuddered with each blow.

Dan O. said...

The characters and script kind of blow, but the action is always there to save the day. Nice review Anna.

Anonymous said...

Anna: you seem to be a talented, young moron. Have you ever put Kathleen Sebelius in a German Officer's uniform, like the female version of various Hitler's Aides or Henchman? I think she'd make a STRIKING Nazi, working fervently to serve the purpose of her SCOAMF....

pookysgirl said...

Yeah, the reviews of Pacific Rim have warned me to stay far away unless I want to turn my brain off for a few hours (and stuff my ears with cotton, apparently).

BTW, nice Drakescale armor! I had Shing Jea until I could save enough money for Monument and Norn. Never understood Elie Druid-how're you supposed to blend into nature by flashing all that pasty skin?!

Penfold said...

I took my son to this movie and we both loved it. I understand your critique of it, but still enjoyable, I would give it a B+. I also got my son a Monster X figure for his birthday, so we could be considered biased.