Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

Seen: In IMAX 3D at Jordan's Furniture in Reading. A magical wonderland place, I promise you.

I'm basically on board with whatever Guillermo del Toro does- not only is the man a talented and versatile filmmaker, but he's also ADORABLE. Though its premise had a lot of people mocking it before it was released, I've been psyched for Pacific Rim since I heard about it because by now I have confidence in del Toro's ability to deliver a fun, visually stunning, and not completely stupid sci-fi action movie. Which is just what he did here. Set in a future where huge monsters (kaiju) are consistently rising from a dimensional rift in the ocean to destroy major cities, the film follows the efforts of an international group of fighters working to beat back the attacks in their mechs known as "Jaegers". With the attacks increasing rapidly, robots failing left and right, and humans seemingly on brink of extinction, Jaeger pilots Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) may be Earth's last hope.

What's really great about this movie is that it's basically a live-action anime, which is really not an easy thing to do successfully. It's exciting, emotional, thoughtfully stylized, and just the right amount of completely ridiculous. Del Toro takes care to balance the action with the characters' relationships, allowing just the right amount of backstory while still delivering extreme wide-scale destruction. I loved the very Japanese-inspired fighting style of the Jaegers, with the pilots shouting out attack moves and posing theatrically. The digital effects are beautiful, seamlessly blending some intimidating real-life locations with enormous robots and really gross creatures.

The script is cheesy, definitely, and the world-building is iffy at best, but it's not like I expected Shakespeare. This is a ridiculous premise and it's treated as such by cast and crew alike, and I can only assume everyone had a blast making this movie. The cast is for most part really fun, with great supporting turns from Ron Perlman (whose shoes I'm fucking COVETING), Burn Gorman, and Clifton Collins, Jr. Obviously Idris Elba is a standout, rocking the mean military commander thing and shouting out inspirational speeches, and Rinko Kikuchi is excellent as the reserved but passionate Mako Mori, who kicks ass and has blue hair. But, weirdly, I think Charlie Day might have been my favorite, as I found myself loving his slightly crazed scientist schtick as his character fought to uncover the secrets of the kaiju. Plus I liked his tattoos.

Here's where I have to say something about Charlie Hunnam, the star, the protagonist, the blonde white guy. It's not his fault, but goddammit am I sick of bland white dudes starring in action/sci-fi movies. I mean I know this happens ALL. THE. TIME. but lately I can't even tell any of these actors apart, and none of them have a personality. Like, the guy in Tron: Legacy? The young guy in Expendables 2? Who are all these men, and why aren't they more interesting? I didn't really give a shit about Charlie Hunnam's character in Pacific Rim, and it didn't help that for the first half of the movie I kept confusing him with the other bland young white dude from Australia. Like, give these people faces and maybe I can begin to care more? Or maybe cast someone other than athletic white dudes all apparently popped out of the same mold? What a notion. I'm glad Del Toro has some awesome people of color in this movie and especially a multi-dimensional woman of color who isn't sexualized or even romanced, but casting the lead role with this boring guy took away from the film for me, since I didn't understand why I should pay attention to him when everyone else was way more compelling.

Anyway. Otherwise this movie was pretty damn rad.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: Any anime with big robots and/or monsters, I'd say. I was most reminded of Neon Genesis Evangelion (which has movies too).

2 comments:

  1. I heard this movie is really good. It's gotten great reviews. But then I heard that it's not doing well at the box office for some reason?

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  2. Remember that line in the beginning about how he and his brother never stood out and weren't the popular kids in school, and meanwhile they're hanging around shirtless in their barracks and look like underwear models? I wonder if the original script called for a different looking protagonist, but the studio resisted it.

    It reminds me of Hellboy and how, even though it was called Hellboy, Del Toro was forced to put that bland dude front and center.

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