Flashback/Backslide here for some Redbox invasion time. I have to admit, I am a sucker for terrible movies. My counterparts here at FB/BS may not admit it, but sometimes a 90 minute Nic Cage screamfest, terrible Sci-Fi movie or amazingly awful post-apocalyptic movie is thousands of times more enjoyable than an uptight drama. If a movie plot involved any of the following, I’d be the first in the theater: Zombie, Vampire, Werewolf, Apocalypse, Priest-Soldier, Angel-Soldier, Demon-Soldier, Alien, Mythical Creatures, Monster, Robot, Super powers or anything related. Bonus points for mixing and matching: Underworld (Vampires fight Werewolves), Cowboys and Aliens (Cowboys fight…Aliens), Priest (Vampires fighting Priest-Soldiers), Legion (Demons fight machine gun wielding Angel-Soldiers), The Matrix (Machine uprising), Constantine (Half-angels, Half-demons, resurrection, need I say more?) etc. After I saw the first trailer for “Pacific Rim” my nerd-movie excitement level was cranked to max. Best case scenario we get an all-time great Sci-Fi movie combining two of great Sci-Fi children; the Giant Alien/Monster and the Robot/Mech-Warrior subgenres. That beautiful cinematic baby is what Guillermo del Toro was hoping for when he and his studio counterparts sat down and decided to bring a child into this world. Worst case scenario we get an awful movie with top-notch special effects and some sweet-sweet Alien-Robot brawls.
It pains me to admit it, seriously, that Pacific Rim lands somewhere between those two goals. It isn’t all out terrible but it falls short of hitting all those action/sci-fi high notes, crippling under the weight of predictability and overused subplots. We get hefty doses of some pretty standard movie ingredients that all blend together to form an overall stale product. There were no surprises here. Charlie Hunman, aka Sons of Anarchy the Younger, plays the jaded soldier who walks away from war after the traumatizing loss of his brother (the brother is basically in Hunman’s arms when he dies) only to be pulled back into the fight after a forceful speech by his ex-commander (Idris Elba). Elba plays the salty old general who returns to the fight after he was told he could never fight again. Rinku Kikuchi plays the rookie who has to prove herself and be accepted by the unit. She and Idris have that strained father/daughter relationship where he’s overly protective and afraid to let her out on her own. The tumultuous pairing of single-father/son are played by Robert Kazinsky and Max Martini. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman serve as our comic relief but fit in awkwardly. Gorman’s German accent grinds awkwardly and childishly with the other actors. Day is hilarious elsewhere but seems over the top in his brief moments here (his best moment is when he laughs at one of Gorman’s rants)
That all being said, there were some nice thoughts in the movie. The parts with Ron Pearlman (Sons of Anarchy the elder), were a nice addition. A Black Market with Kaiju remains at it’s backbone was an interesting, and logical extension of the world that would’ve existed in the movie. And the short, seemingly throwaway line about people worshiping the Kaiju reminded me of the Akira worshipers in Akira. The neural handshake allowing two pilots to simultaneously control a Jaeger machine was interesting if not innovative (it played out kind of like the Avatar ponytail neural connection). Neural bridging with Kaijus was a smart plot line but visually lame. We just saw Day and Gorman shaking and bleeding out of their noses with vague Kaiju visuals. When they come out, the movie gets a sudden push forward in plot while we’re left in the dark. Sure, there are moments where it’s nice to be kept in the dark so the suspense runs high. Here it just felt cheap.
Plot problems aside, the movie did look incredible. I watched it on DVD and even on my junky old TV it still was fun to watch. Even if the acting and plot falls through, the fight scenes made for a solid 2 hour experience. And we don’t go to movies like this for the profound plot. I’d see “Pacific Rim” again, and will probably see a sequel but it didn’t match my, admittedly insanely high, expectations. When I was a kid I was obsessed with Gundam Wing and I think that played into my expectations since the Jaegers are just big mech warriors. The movie did everything right but didn’t do anything exceptionally (other than look sweet, which doesn’t get you a lot of points anymore).
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%. (Difference: -2.2); Watching the movie on an old TV and my extreme expectations set me up for an inevitable letdown.
Where to see it: The Dollar Theater. This is obviously a cop-out. I wouldn’t want to pay full price but the movie is best served by a large screen.
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link to trailer