Because I didn’t really know much about this movie going into it, and enjoyed it so much, I’ve got a review for you of Pacific Rim. Like my last review, I actually saw this movie ages ago, but have been really lax in getting this review done for you, so here it finally is. BTW, It’s got a few spoilers, so watch out!
Pacific Rim is set in a not-too-distant future, where giant alien monster things have started emerging from the sea along the Pacific rim , thus the name of this move. To protect humanity from these giant monsters dubbed Kaijus, a series of giant mech-like robots called Jaegers have been built which require two people to pilot. The story mainly focuses on the plight of one pilot, whose brother was killed while he was psychically connected to him, piloting a mech. He leaves the forces but is recruited back, for the last big assault in the hope of stopping the aliens for good. There is also a sideplot with an eccentric scientist, but I won’t spoil that for you.
So, the first thing I immediately noticed watching this movie was that all the computer systems, which you will hear a fair amount of, are voiced by Ellen McLain who did the voice of GLaDOS. Not only are they voiced by her, but they’re voiced by her in GLaDOS mode. Her voice is very recognisable, and it sounds nearly no different to when she’s playing GLaDOS. At first, I thought it was just some random who sounded a bit like her, but as the movie went on it became clear that it was definitely her. It was both a strange and comforting element which helped set the atmosphere for the movie.
When I first heard about this movie, there were two others that I thought of: Transformers and Monsters Vs. Aliens. Now, I really didn’t like the recent Transformers movies. I know some of my friends did, but to me they were all pretty poor, not just because of their paper-thin plots, but also because they suffer from something I’ve dubbed Transformers Syndrome. This is where you can’t tell who’s who during any fight sequences because they all look too similar at close quarters; you’ve probably heard other people complain about it before. Thankfully, Pacific Rim doesn’t suffer from Transformers Syndrome at all.
The mechs are distinct and colourful. Each is unique in design, even up close. They’re emblazoned with badges and murals, relating to their namesake, country of origin and the legend that surrounds each. You can see hours of passion and design have gone into each one. Unfortunately though, the movie doesn’t devote much time to exploring the mythos that surrounds every Jaeger, just the bits that are essential to the plot.
The aliens too, have a high level of detail in their design. Elements like the colour and texturing of the Kaijus makes them scarily realistic. Their fleshiness is appropriately revolting, and makes them easy to distinguish against the sharp metal of the Jaegers. Each isn’t as unique as the Jaegers, but that makes sense seeing as they’re all aliens.
The reason I thought of Monsters Vs. Aliens, which is a movie I actually really liked (even though I only grasped a fraction of the references made in it), is because this movie sort of has a similar concept to that one. In this case the monsters are created on purpose, specifically to fight the aliens. In fact, a more accurate title for Pacific Rim in this same vein would be Robots Vs. Aliens.
The whole mind-melding concept, which is required for the pilots to control the Jaegers, is described using Alice In Wonderland “Down the rabbit-hole” references, which I thought was cool. But now I think about it, they were probably less Alice In Wonderland references, and more Matrix references because that movie used the rabbit-hole as a metaphor for many of its concepts. It’s actually pretty common to make Wonderland references in any sci-fi movie these days, and I’ve even heard people use this kind of language in real life when talking about computers, and the Internet and human connectivity, and I think it’s all thanks to the Matrix.
The mind-melds were also a bit like Inception, in that when they do them, the pilots find themselves in each others minds. This manifests as walking through and reliving each other’s memories. They do this to become synced, so that they can properly control the Jaeger together. But there’s a danger in this, like in Inception, that the owner of the memories can become overwhelmed by them, and believe that they’re real, and never want to leave. This adds a bit of extra depth to the mechanic, and gives the movie a chance to explore some character backstory.
Something that always seems to play into my mind when watching films these days, particularly American ones (which are most of them), is how it incorporates, or at least acknowledges the existence of the rest of the world. Pacific Rim doesn’t just acknowledge it, it takes you all over the world, and even has characters from a wide variety of countries. When telling a story of this magnitude, this is essential to making it feel realistic. If the world was invaded by aliens tomorrow, you’re kidding yourself if you think America would be the only ones doing anything about it! No, Pacific Rim has thought past that and presented a totally plausible, or even likely, scenario for what would happen: they’d turn it into a competition. Every country would be trying to prove their worth by building the biggest and best Jaegers to show up the others. You see Japan, and China, and Germany and even Australia have Jaegers. It’s great!
It’s just such a shame how terrible some of the accents were. I particularly hated two key characters who apparently were suppose to be Aussies. Whenever they appeared, I was left wondering where in the world they were suppose to be from. At one point I thought they might have been from Texas. There were some real cliché “Aussie” things to their behaviour, but their accents were unrecognisable. It probably didn’t help that neither of the actors are Australians, so that’s what you get…
There was also two scientist characters who I thought were, not as funny as I think they were suppose to be, but still good for a bit of comedic relief. One was much less believable and more stuck-up than the other, so I really didn’t like him, but the other was a fairly likeable character despite his portrayal as a bit of a buffoon. Similarly to a comment I made about Monsters University and its depiction of engineers, it seems rather mean that the two scientist are presented as such hopeless dorks. A lot of the target audience for this movie would probably be people who identify with them on some level.
There were a few plot holes that bothered me. Many of the issues or obstacles that crop up seem to only exist when conveniently inconvenient. That is, they’re only a problem when the movie wants to slow down to add tension, or expand on a plot point, or both. A good example is Mako’s super-powerful memories that stop her from syncing with the main character, Raleigh. It gives them a chance to go deep into her backstory, but they actually don’t explain that much or do it that well. Then a big deal is made of her not being a suitable pilot but after a portion of arguing, she has another go and she’s completely fine, as if nothing ever happened. Frankly, the main reason this bothered me, was because the rest of the movie is pretty good with consistency, so it seems blotchy to just forget about issues after a few minutes of dialogue.
That said, they really tried to pack in as much detail and backstory as possible into Pacific Rim. There was loads of concepts and lore crammed in, but very little of it was well fleshed out. Most of it was explained just enough to get the idea, and sustain your understanding without wreaking the movie or overstaying its welcome. They were looking for a goldilocks zone of information, and while you’re watching, because everything is chugging along, it’s just right. But when you think back on some of the ideas or content, you’re left with lots to wonder about. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the perfect situation for spinoff media, like video games or novelisation, or even another movie, to pick up the slack, and explore. I hope they utilise this opportunity well.
I wouldn’t have said this is a genre I usually like, but I really enjoyed this. It’s not perfect but I would happily see it a few more times.
Have you seen Pacific Rim? What did you think? Did it live up to your expectations? Have I said anything you disagree with? Tell me & everyone else who passes through here what you think in the comment below.
To Infinity and Beyond,
- ‘Pacific Rim’ Could Still Get a Sequel – But Does It Even Need One? (screenrant.com)
- Chinese Army claims Pacific Rim is American propaganda (io9.com)
- “Pacific Rim” was marketed as the wrong kind of movie (obsidianwings.blogs.com)
- What You See Is What You Get… And That’s A Whole Lotta Robots & Monsters: Pacific Rim Review (thisisanothercastle.com)
- Pacific Rim (or better known as the best film of the summer) (zeit-gest.com)
- Julie’s Review Room: Pacific Rim (kvil.cbslocal.com)