I feel like this blog is becoming a place that I can talk about movies on. That isn’t a bad thing, considering this is all about getting out my opinions and seeing what others have to say. This time I am going to talk a bit about Pacific Rim.
The short version of this post is, I liked Pacific Rim. End of story. For more, read onward. There will be spoilers
When I first found out about Pacific Rim a year ago because of San Diego Comic Con, all I could think of was Neon Genesis Evangelion. I remembered sitting in my room in high school and watching episode after episode of the anime. It is great and I was convinced that there was no way Pacific Rim could live up to such a great piece of art. I even called it live action Eva.
The idea of having giant unstoppable monsters(Kaiju) bent on destroying the world as we know it is entertaining. Having mechs(Jaeger) that are equally large seems like the only way to combat them without further destroying our world. I give Pacific Rim kudos for attempting something so large.
Not to mention, every trailer I watched made me want to scream because all I heard was GLadOS.
I always like to hear the bad news before the good news so that is where I will start. Pacific Rim lacked character investment. There were a lot of great characters, but none of them ( except Idris Elba, but I’ll get to that later) made me feel anything. There was an awkward relationship shoehorned in between Raleigh and Mako that fell flat on its face. Raleigh felt completely wooden. I wanted to like him, but I just wanted him to either shut up and fight Kaiju or shut up and take his shirt off. Mako had the potential to come off as equally interesting, but she didn’t. Maybe her calm in public, yet feisty in private demeanor didn’t work. Maybe it was a melding of her initial Japanese upbringing being altered by being raised by Stacker. I get the feeling they didn’t think that far into it. Either way, it didn’t work. Sorry folks, but two wooden characters can’t make screen magic and they didn’t.
Charlie Day’s Dr. Newton Geiszler was interesting, but I never got to really know him. We got a few goofy lines about his past in the form of bad quips and a series of flashes during the neural handshake. Other than that, he was a blank slate. The worst thing to me was that I got a feeling of importance from the way he was portrayed and how the Kaiju interacted with him, but then it was abandoned. Del Toro did cut out quite a bit of material and maybe that was something that didn’t make it. I would have much rather received some interesting information than watch Raleigh and Mako play footsie.
As for the other characters, they were even flatter. The angst exuding from Chuck Hansen was unnecessary. He was downright annoying and he never seemed like much of a threat to Raleigh. Instead he was a self entitled prick with daddy issues. The movie itself even acknowledged it.
At the end of the day, bad or flat characters don’t leave an impression, which makes it harder to remember a movie in the long run.
You might be thinking, what else awful could I say after ranting about bad characters? Well, the good news, it isn’t things that are bad, but more like mediocre. Let’s get right into it.
Now, I have some perfectionist tendencies and that extends into time lines. The time line presented in the movie can get a bit muddled. The general flow of events remains clear, but I needed to look things up afterward because some dates didn’t seem to line up. Now this may stem from a complex timeline with many characters, many countries, and many events involved, but I shouldn’t feel like the timeline is off to the point I need to verify. There is a lot of material available, I think sometimes the creators forget that not everyone will consume it all.
I know I mentioned Geiszler in the ugly, but he deserves to be in this section more. Charlie Day is charismatic, at least I think so. When he walked on screen, I wanted to pay attention to him and ai did. I wanted to see what would happen to him next. About for a man with a doctorate, he sure was stupid. But I was so enamored by Day that even I didn’t realize what a foolish thing he did initiating the neural handshake with a Kaiju brain, until Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau pointed it out.
One other thing that bugged me just a little is the tech. The first Kaiju attack was supposed to be in 2013. The first jaeger Yukon Brawler was finished in January 2015, less than a year and a half later. Now, I can understand the construction occurring in that time, but to implement the neural handshake so quickly seems unlikely to me.
My last point leads in to my first bit of good. The technology was developed fast and this had an effect on the early pilots. This includes Stacker Pentecost(Idris Elba). Throughout the movie they hint at something being wrong with Stacker. He constantly pops pills. He gets random nosebleeds. And he appears to have a deep knowledge of what it takes to be a Jaeger pilot. I’m not going to pretend that Stacker was not my favorite character. I felt for him, I rooted for him. When he was on the screen, he was the only one I could focus on. Idris took his character and didn’t make me feel like it was just a character, but someone I cared about. I could invest in him. His story meant the most to me.
What sort of quasi review would this be if I didn’t mention the big draw of the movie. Kaiju vs Jaeger. The battles in this movie did not disappoint. They were large and loud. I sat in my seat with my leg shaking in anticipation. I wanted to see what was going to happen next. When one of the Kaiju sprouted wings, I exclaimed in the middle of the theatre. I was caught up in every battle and every interaction with a Kaiju. The action sequences did what they needed to do. Thankfully, they made up a large portion of the movie and for the better. I don’t know how much I would have liked the movie otherwise.
How It Stands
In a few years, it will be clear how this movie holds up. I won’t pass my final judgement until then. I liked the movie, but I didn’t love it. I would go watch it again in the theatres in a heartbeat. It was entertaining plain and simple. With some better character work, this movie could have been great rather than merely good.
Now let me circle this whole thing back around to where I started. This movie is a live action version of Neon Genesis Evangelion with more science fiction and, to its detriment, less compelling characters. I would still take NGE over Pacific Rim without a second thought and I think I always well.