Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pacific Rim Review

So, this past weekend, I took my best bud and siblings out to see "Pacific Rim".
Early birthday present for him, and probably the only chance my brother was going to see it before it got yanked from theaters due to just not being that big a hit..  I wasn't as eager to see it as say, LOTR, or as eager as I am to see "The Conjuring", but hey, it's Guillermo del Toro!

Here is the official synopsis
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.

 Quick back story...  I've LOVED Guillermo del Toro work since I saw "Hellboy". I knew the instant I saw the previews for "Hellboy" back in 2004 I would love it. KNEW IT. It's just the perfect little movie for me. Since then, I've been checking out del Toro's work whenever I the chance. "Devil's Backbone" was a weird little ghost story, "Pan's Labyrinth" had me sobbing my eyes out by the end. "Mimicwas............... not great. Not bad, just not great. "Hellboy: The Golden Armywas good (not as good as the first one, but I still have a soft spot for old Red and gang).  Anyway. 

 SPOILERS BELOW


I hadn't really been paying attention to Pacific Rim.  I'm not a huge Giant Robot vs Monster fan, but I can enjoy them where they aren't "Transformers" or "Smodzilla".  But, being Guillermo, I was willing to give it a shot.   

I can honestly say, "Pacific Rim" is a homage to every cliche in every monster mashing move made.  
Badass black military leader?
Check! 
Nerdy, overly eager American scientist?
Check!
Stuck up British Scientist?
Check!
Fucked up back story/deaths for our leads?
Check!
Stupid meddling politicians?
Check!
Stupid BS science that a 4th grader could poke a hole in?
Check!
 And the list goes on.

The biggest surprise is.....It works. It KNOWS it is pop, that it will never win Best Picture, and it doesn't care. Like it's colorful black market merchant  Hannibal Chau, it hams it up and wears its colors on it shoulder for all to see, and it's not ashamed of it.  And why should it be?   This movie has a giant robot beating a toad/gorilla monster over the head with a ship and the soundtrack swell along with every head bash.  High culture? Nope.  But, I gotta tell ya, I was really rooting for that Robot at that point.
Highlight for me was when the voice of  Ellen McLain came up as the voice of the Jaeger A.I. I am a HUGE Portal fan so it was a "squee" moment.
My biggest complaints with the movie are the fact that we kill off  two of the last four teams of  Jaegers  in the only the second big battle of the movie. Those guys look WAY cool, and should have stuck around for another fight or two.  I really wanted to know more about the Russian team of Jaeger, the Kaidonovsky.   At times the American Scientist got on my nerves, and the story had a bit of trouble keep some of the storylines together. But those are minor.
On the plus side.. The Jaegers are surprisingly beautiful to look at, and the monsters are believable in their mass and movement.   And OMG, no slow motion shots, no bullet time shots, no weird "lets follow the the projectile with the camera though the monsters head and see it explode" shots!  NO SHAKY CAM  (I'm looking at you "I Am Legend"... You had me sick, and my sister puking by the time we got out of the theater, thanks a lot).
Just good old robot on monster action here.You get your money worth of monster pounding in this.  That maybe WHY it not doing as good here in the US as it should be. The movie is really too old school for its own good.  This movie is one big nostalgic hug to all the little boys and girls who sat up late on a Saturday night watching Godzilla and Ray Harryhausen movies. Grab a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoy it.  It's not asking you to take it seriously, or find some deep moral meaning in it, or prove anything.  It's just asking that for  2 hours and 11 minutes, you sit there and be a little kid again, watching those monster duke it out, and secretly wishing that you could drive one of  those Jaegers.