Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's Review Something: Pacific Rim


‘Pacific Rim’ is not the type of movie I would normally be excited about seeing.  I do, on occasion, like the big budget action films, but more so than not it is when there is some nostalgia laced with it.  Superhero movies based on famous characters of my youth or reboots of franchises that I remember loving as a child; those are the special effects heavy behemoths that I generally gravitate towards.  Something like ‘Pacific Rim’ looked, to me, like one of those geek-fest videogame movies that pop up and earn legions of devoted fans but get panned by critics and pretty much serves up forgettable explosions.  Still, some friends really wanted to see it and so they drug me to the movies last night.  I was really hesitant.  The guy at the ticket counter hadn’t seen it, so he was of no help, and then in walked two middle-aged men who clearly lived with their mothers, chattering about ‘The Hobbit’ and the upcoming ‘City of Bones’ movie, and as I watched them walk into the ‘Pacific Rim’ theater I was convinced that I was going to hate the next two hours of my life.

A lot about ‘Pacific Rim’ makes little sense, but at the end of the day this was one hell of a fun movie!

Guillermo del Toro is not a director I’m very familiar with.  I know that he loves fantasy and videogames and he has a huge cult following, but the only film of his that I’ve seen is ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and so I’m not entirely versed in his filmography or style.  If this is any indication, he likes things big and loud.  He certainly delivered on both of those fronts.

Let's fight!
The story is rather simple.  Mysterious creatures called Kaiju have been terrorizing earth for years.  The humans created mind controlled gigantic robots to fight these Kaiju and got really good at it.  Everything seemed well, the men who pilot the robots (known as Jaegers) are superstars and the world seems safe from extinction, until the Kaiju smarten up and begin to find ways of defeating the Jaegers, locating their weaknesses and developing weapons.  It then becomes evident that the Jaegers are not the best defense and the government switches to building a massive wall to protect earth.  That doesn’t work so well (you think?) and so they develop some plan of attack to get a bomb in the portal used by the Kaiju to attack.  In the process, we have a washed up pilot and a wannabe pilot, both with tragic backstories, fighting against an arrogant pilot and a stubborn leader as they wage war on these creatures.

This is basically ‘Transformers vs. Godzilla: The Movie’.
 
Yeah...I don't buy it.
Like I said, a lot of this doesn’t make sense, and the film is littered with serious flaws.  The lazy backstory given the Kaiju, the fact that they only have one portal they come from, the fact that these giant robots are carried to the sea by a few small helicopters, the fact that they don’t use their swords until after they are ripped to pieces, the fact that one fight scene literally wipes the entire Hong Kong population off the map.  The list goes on and on.  The fact that everyone YELLS EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME or the fact that stereotypes litter everything, especially when it comes to the nerdy scientists. 

But, for all of these flaws, the film was a lot of fun from start to finish.

Let's get things started with a bang!
The graphics here are OUTSTANDING, and I mean that.  They are the cleanest, sharpest, most graphic effects I’ve seen in film in a while.  From the creation of the Kaiju to the detailed Jaegers, this is some visually impressive stuff.  The first twenty minutes of the film serve as a masterful example of what ‘movie magic’ is all about, and this is one of those films where the 3D actually works a great deal.  I also loved some of the minor touches, like how when we meet out leading lady she is concealed with an umbrella, making us think that she is some big Hollywood face, only to have her revealed as Rinko Kikuchi.  I liked that most of the cast were unknowns, or faces known more for their television work.  It took out the ‘movie star’ and gave this more identity.

Still, this movie can’t escape being stupid.  It deliberately goes for camp in many areas, and for the most part it works, even when it doesn’t, if that makes sense.  The plot holes were everywhere, but it didn’t matter one bit, because I enjoyed every minute of it.

Personally, I give this a C, but it is a generous C.  The flaws are so obvious, so I can’t give this a higher rating, but the enjoyment factor was also so high that I can’t give it a lower one.  As far as Oscar is concerned, I hope to god they nominate this for Visual Effects.  It deserves it, and unless ‘Gravity’ is a complete mindfuck, I really think this should win.  I’m not joking when I say that these graphics were beyond mesmerizing.  

4 comments:

  1. C for me as well. I wanted to like it, but there were just too many flaws and cliches. While I can overlook that in some films, this one just didn't work for me. A Visual Effects nod/win would, indeed, be well-deserved, so let's hope that happens.

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    1. I hope so, and I'm betting on it at the moment.

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  2. Heard good things about this one but I skipped it. Reminded me of Power Rangers. ALthough I do give a tip of the hat to del Toro. He always has an eye for fantastical creatures.

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    1. I kind of like the Power Rangers reference! True. The Visual work here is the highlight for sure, especially since the rest of it is rather stupid. I'll say this, it is one of those films I'm glad I saw on the big screen, and the 3D work was very nice.

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