Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim - Gipsy Danger - ThumbnailI haven’t been going to the movies as much. Considering that Netflix is only $7.99 a month, why should I drop $8 on a matinee? Although, I couldn’t resist the urge to see giant robots fight giant monsters. Pacific Rim didn’t look like a cheap sci-fi movie from the 50’s. This looked like a high-quality action flick. So, I decided to check it out. I thought that the movie was good. But unfortunately, I wasn’t overly impressed.

While I was watching the movie, I had to wonder. Am I getting old? There was just too much going on the screen. Why am I having trouble following the action on the screen? This was odd, as the fight scenes weren’t blazing fast. It was mostly lumbering motions and punches. Yet, it was the way these motions were presented. Usually it was dark and the weather was bad. With the flashing helicopter lights and numerous rain drops, the scenes felt distracting.

I’m not a stranger to entertainment based on giant robots fighting. I remember the days of Robotech and Voltron. I kept expecting to hear the phrase, “form blazing sword” so my eyes could find a place to focus. If I’m about to fight a giant monster — with a giant robot — why would I limit myself to just fists? When a sword was finally used in Pacific Rim, it seemed so plain to me. I expected it to glow or something. Why not use more weapons? And if you have a hand cannon, why fire it from point-blank range? Step back and then shoot the monster… duh!

That’s where the problems started. I liked the concept behind Pacific Rim, but I had trouble believing in this fantasy world. Why didn’t they just nuke the monsters? Even just conventional weapons should have been more effective. If a hit from giant fist can kill these things, surely some 2020 equivalent of Tomahawk missiles could do the same thing.

OK, OK, it doesn’t have to be loaded with peer reviewed science. It’s a movie. Good acting can make it believable. That’s another spot I had trouble with. I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors. Sure, I don’t really care too much about star power. If that didn’t matter to me when I first watched Star Wars, why should it matter here? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to connect with the main characters. They felt too similar.

I was interested in the Russian and Chinese Jaegers. A big part of the plot was how the whole world was united to fight the giant monsters. That seemed like a cool theme to explore. Yet, the movie itself swiftly eliminated any diversity. In a strangely one-sided fight, the foreign robots were quickly destroyed. What was with that useless third arm on the Chinese robot? This was such a waste of good characters. This is also embarrassing for an international movie. Why not give the Russians and Chinese some good heroes?!

Have you learned nothing from the original Transformers movie? I don’t think it helps action figure sales when you kill off so many characters. 😆

One scene was incredibly striking though. When young Mako Mori was running from the giant monster, I felt sad. I felt like this was great acting. The visuals were less distracting too. It was strong storytelling. This seemed like a great buildup for one of the main characters. So, why didn’t the hero kiss her at the end? Did I blink and miss it? A white guy can’t end up with an Asian?

I’m not an advocate for fake diversity. I hate it when I see forced placement of ethnic groups in media. That’s just another form of racism to me. But here, a large part of the movie was the growing connection between the two Jaeger pilots. I liked how the two characters started working together. Their character development was moving along nicely. It was making sense to me — until the end. She can be in his head, but they can’t kiss?

It’s that incompleteness that summed up Pacific Rim. I felt as if something was missing. The movie was good, but it didn’t impress me like other blockbuster movies… not like The Matrix or Inception. Instead, it reminded me of Godzilla — the 1998 version. Something felt off.

Fortunately, there are redeeming elements in Pacific Rim. I thought that the theme song was great. It kinda got stuck in my head. I also thought that the commanding officer was a cool character — tough, professional and even a little witty. (I thought that the motivational speech felt flat though. It reminded me of Morpheus in The Matrix Reloaded.) The final fight scene was pretty good too. That part of the ending felt satisfying. Throughout most of the movie, the humans get beat down. It was getting tiring. It was nice to see them finally win. The outcome was obvious, but I still found it fun to watch.

There’s been some rumbling about a sequel. I’m not sure if I would return to the theaters to see it. Unfortunately, Pacific Rim has further harmed my opinion of movie theaters. I like the idea that I can get so much great entertainment at home. When I go out to see a summer blockbuster, I expect something spectacular. Pacific Rim was so close to awesome, but maybe I should have spent the $8 on Netflix.