Saturday, July 13, 2013

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

The first thing that crossed my mind as I was watching the opening sequence of Pacific Rim is that the screen I was seeing it on was too small for this movie. The second thing to occur to me was that every movie screen in the world is too small. We, as a species, don't make movie screens large enough to handle this movie.

Actually, the premise of Pacific Rim works surprisingly well as an allegory for the need for the human race to come together and produce larger 3D movie screens for the viewing of Pacific Rim. I'm not sure whether that was what Del Toro had in mind, but it fits.

Oh, and that brings up another point. Remember how you had to see Avatar in 3D? You need to see this in that format, too. Actually, it might be more important here than with Avatar.

Alright, let's talk about the movie. You know most of the premise from the trailers, but probably less than you think. There are giant robots fighting giant monsters: I assume everyone's up to speed on that. But less well advertised is the fact this thing is infused with 80's nostalgia. I've seen several people note the movie's similarities to Top Gun - they're hard to miss. And it's not just the plot: the dialogue and music reminiscent of adventure and even sports movies from that decade.

I might be mistaken, but I also found myself recalling elements of the Speed Racer movie while watching Pacific Rim. Both movies took a similar approach to constructing a fusion of live action and animated elements to translate concepts originating in Japanese animation to the movie screen, and both chose to embrace the absurdity of their premises rather than try to replace it with realism. After far too many "Post-Matrix" SF movies, I kind of feel like we've gotten the first Post-Speed Racer.

It should be noted that Pacific Rim is more interested in its action scenes than its drama. The dialogue is cheesy (though it's clearly intentional). The characters are fairly dull (probably less intentional), but they're not so bad they ruin the movie (looking at you, Avatar).

Pacific Rim is also an uneven movie. The opening is breathtaking, while the ending - while solid - certainly doesn't meet expectations.

Nonetheless, this movie raises the bar on monster movies in a way that's completely unprecedented. There are more than a half-dozen kaiju in this thing, and they're all awesome. The robots are equally cool, though the movie definitely leaves you wanting more. I could gleefully watch an entire movie about any of the jaegers. It's kind of tragic we got so little time with Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha.

There's room for debate on whether indulging in 80's nostalgia was the best choice, but I have a hard time understanding anyone who walks away from this not feeling amazed. The movie is awesome. The setting and scale are bread and butter to animation, but I don't think we've ever gotten anything close in live action.

This has been a decent summer so far: Iron Man 3, Star Trek, and Superman were all good, but none of them really offered anything new or surprising. Pacific Rim is easily the most incredible movie we've gotten this year. This is the one you really can't miss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe there should have been more to do with the characters and story, but at least it was fun for what it was. Good review Erin.