Ah, Pacific Rim. The movie every geek wanted to see, but it’s ‘underperforming‘ despite that. There are many reasons being bandied about (no big stars! being the most prominent). For me, Pacific Rim did exactly what it was supposed to. And it cuts through a lot of the crap we’ve come to expect with a new property. Back story? Here’s two minutes, you know everything you need. It’s a big contrast to something like, say, Man of Steel, which takes 2 hours to tell us about the origins of one of the most famous and well-known superheroes of all time. The Pacific Rim opening is basically the first page of All-Star Superman #1. These are the monsters, we made Jaegers to fight them, boom.
The acting does the job. No one’s getting an award, and maybe the characters are more archetypal than fleshed out, but they are a damn sight better than I expected from this class of film. I came for the giant robots fighting giant monsters, and I ended up caring about them just enough. Never happened with Transformers, I’ll tell you that. I love that they did NOT have a kiss between Mako and Raleigh. It shows that movie won’t always go the easy, expected route. The goofy scientists were endearing, to me, at the end. Ellen McClain! It was just freaking fun. It’s shot beautifully, and it’s easy to tell who’s who most of the time in the big fights.
You know what told me it’s better than the average dumb sci-fi summer blockbuster? I went online after I got back from my showing, and the discussions I found were alight with speculation about the interesting twists for a possible sequel. What did the race creating the kaiju learn from us during the drift? How will the retaliate? Will there be a totally different threat? Will Stacker Pentecost actually appear to Mako within the drift, Obi-Wan style? There are actual interesting questions here to explore, versus most movies based on existing brands. What do you get excited for after 3 Transformers movies? The nostalgia of hearing Peter Cullen’s voice carries you for about 10 minutes. Seeing a beloved Transformer from childhood might carry you further, until they bastardize it into a different model car for product placement, or surround it with racist caricatures. I can barely remembered what happened in those movies, where I’m still pondering the Pacific Rim universe’s potential future. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of franchises I love that I want to see more of on the big screen, but it just seems like Guillermo Del Toro is being hurt by the fact that the production company didn’t license a work of fiction that fit well enough that the title recognition would bring in a few people more to see it (World War Z or I, Robot for example). If you have any doubt about this movie, just think about whether or not you smashed your robot and dinosaur toys together as a kid, or had a stand-in for Godzilla knock down your block towers when you were done building them. Is that a smile I see on your face? Thought so. See the movie. Don’t complain about remakes and reimaginings and copycats and see a movie that knows what came before, and tries to do something new and interesting with it.