Friday, July 19, 2013

Pacific Rim Movie Review

Movie: 7/10

If there is one movie that I wish 2007's Transformers was more like, its Pacific Rim. This movie's premise is simple: GIANT robots fighting GIANT monsters. It knows what it wants to be, and it doesn't pretend to be anything more profound than it really is. I know that a lot of people don't notice it in the original Transformers, but I felt that Michael Bay tried to cramp too many genres into that film than what it really is. It wants to be a teen comedy, epic "serious" modern war film, etc... all in one movie, but it didn't work for me personally because the characters and personality are so inconsistent, Optimus Prime could go from saying "My bad" to saying "One shall rise, one shall fall...", or one of the soldiers can act like a dumbass and not know how to use a radio, and LITERALLY SECONDS in screen time later he uses it like an expert and knows its transmitting range, and on top of that, a lot of the characters are quite annoying and hard to care about. Well, I could go on and on why I'm one of the few who didn't fully embrace Michael Bay's Transformers, even the first one, but I shall save that for another time.

Anyway, back to Pacific Rim. Apparently aliens now don't come from above as traditionally depicted in cinema over the years, they come from a portal created deep in the Pacific ocean floor, and these GIANT monsters called Kaijus, emphasis on GIANT, rise up from the seas and start terrorising, no annihilating human cities. So how does the human race counter them? By creating equally GIANT robots/mechs called Jaegers (again, emphasis on GIANT). When I say GIANT, I mean like skyscraper-tall GIANT, in height alone. Then you can imagine the width and other dimensions if you scale a normal human being to be that tall, easily dwarfing an Autobot or Decepticon. These Jaegers are so complex to pilot that they need two pilots in neural link to control.

But apparently the Kaijus have grown more resistant to the powers of the Jaegers, which deems the Jaegers less effective in fighting the Kaijus, so the commanding officer of the Jaegers, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) hatches a plan to nuke the Kaijus in their home base via the portal in the Pacific Ocean.

So Stacker enlists the help of Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who is retired from piloting Jaegers due to a tragic accident that affected him. Along the way he comes across Stacker's adoptive daughter, Mako Mori (Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi), who seems to have a strong neural connection with Raleigh, so she becomes a candidate to be Raleigh's co-pilot for Stacker's plans.

Now, I gotta admit I wasn't expecting much from this film, as looking at the trailer then, it looked too similar to Transformers, but hell, I was really taken by surprise how much I liked this movie better than the Transformers films. I think its because, as I mentioned before, it knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be, and, unlike the latter, doesn't pretend to be anything more. It jumps straight into the action within the first few minutes. The GIANT battles between the Jaegers and Kaijus are really fun to watch, aided by superb visual effects and thunderous sound design. It can really bring back the 12-year-old in many people who loves Godzilla, or perhaps MechWarrior, and to see these GIANT robots and monsters clash gives a pure, unadulterated joy. The designs of the Kaijus are also pretty interesting, but its also a bit unfortunate that the designs of the Jaeger weren't as creative as the Kaijus. They pretty much feel like the same Jaeger with slight variations in body shape, save for maybe the Russian Jaeger which had an interesting head design. Perhaps more variety of the Jaegers design would have make the fight scenes more interesting. Maybe like a leopard-shaped or a T-Rex shaped one. Oh wait, I forgot, they have to be based on the human body because they are neurologically controlled by two human pilots.

However, if there is one negative about these fight scenes, is that they are mostly shot in the dark and in rain, which makes it pretty hard to see what's going on, some of the choices of lenses to shoot some of those shots are a little bit too narrow, making it even more difficult to see the actions clearly. Admittedly, this was less of a problem towards the end fight, which was completely underwater, and had better lighting and long shots.

Acting in this film is, for the most part, serviceable, and not downright bad like Megan Fox's acting in both Transformers movies she was in. The characters themselves are also not as annoying as those in Transformers films, but I gotta admit they do lack depth, but they're not supposed to, and since they weren't annoying they didn't detract from the experience watching it.

I did a bit of research, and I heard Guillermo del Toro had cut about one hour of footage of film that explains more of the story arcs of the characters so that the film can be around two hours, and he justified this by saying  "We cannot pretend this is Ibsen with monsters and giant robots. I cannot pretend I'm doing a profound reflection on mankind." Yes, this is the right mind set to make this type of movie, Mr. del Toro. This is clearly something that Michael Bay doesn't understand when making the Transformers films. Those movies had scenes that were way too long, unnecessary, and on top of everything, pretentious.

So if you're looking for a simple entertaining movie about GIANT robots fighting GIANT monsters, this is the movie for you. And it would be interesting for me if this movie would spawn off a franchise. And did I mention that the robots and monsters in this movie are GIGANTIC?

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