Monday, July 15, 2013

Pacific Rim 3D review

When I reviewed Battleship (2012), I asked this question. "Does a dumb idea for a movie make a dumb movie?" Now say you're a Hollywood movie studio executive. A guy pitches this to you. Giant robots fight giant monsters. I would hope you would say, "What are you, eight years old?' Believe it or not, that's the premise of Pacific Rim. Okay, it's not that dumb since there's an obvious nod to anime and Godzilla movies. I wonder if they got the idea from the Futurama episode, "Anthology of Interest, I." Anyway, giant robots duking it out with giant monsters doesn't make one think of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Still, a moviegoer must take notice when director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) writes a screenplay with Travis Beacham and directs a movie.

In the near future, a fissure under the Pacific ocean, opens a path between the Earth and another dimension. Gigantic monsters called Kaiju (Japanese for strange creatures.) are released from the rift. They're here because they heard there were great barbecue ribs at the Montgomery Inn. Ahhh... okay, that's not whey they're here. They've entered our dimension to eliminate mankind from the planet so their masters can take over. Wait a minute. Didn't I see this plot somewhere else? Independence Day. (1996) Battle: Los Angeles. (2011) Anyway, to fight them, the humans create Jaegers (German for "hunter.") which are giant robots. These machines are driven by two people who have neural connection known as the Drift. In the Drift, the two pilots can share memories.

One of the Jaeger pilots is Raleigh Becket. (Charlie Hunnam) He's a top notch pilot until he suffers a devastating war loss in battle The Keijus adapt and start defeating the Jaegers. The humans abandon the Jaeger program in favor of a wall that they believe will keep the Jaegers at bay. Jaeger program general Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) protests the decision. He takes four Jaegers and starts a fighting force in Hong Kong. Hold on. Who makes up these names? Why don't we just throw out the most macho sounding words as possible. How about John Wayne Marlboro? But I digress, assisting Pentecost are pilot Mako Mori. (Rinko Kikurchi) and researcher Dr. Newton Geizler. (Charlie Day) Five years after his tragedy, Becket is a construction worker on a defensive wall. When a Keiju breaches the wall at Hong Kong, one of Pentecost's Jaegers saves the day. Pentecost implements a plan to deliver a nuclear bomb to the fissure to destroy the pathway between the two dimensions. Short of pilots, he enlists Becket to join the force. Wait a minute. What rocket scientist thought that a giant wall would keep a giant monster at bay? I mean did it occur to anyone that said giant monster would merely bust a hole in the wall? And if you could keep the giant monster outside of the wall, the giant monster is still out there. It's plot holes like these that gets me rooting for the giant monsters.

The actors are very good with the script they were given. Charlie Hunnam as Becket displays the past emotional scars well. Rinko Kikurchi is one hell of a martial artist who has a burning desire to pilot a Jaeger. She's sexy too. Charlie Day who looks like J.J. Abrams is a hoot as geeky and daring scientist, Newt Geizler. The one performance that doesn't work so much is Idris Elba's General Pentecost. It's a lot of cliche dialogue and he basically yells most of his lines.

If you expect the giant robots and giant monsters to break out in song and dance, you got another thing coming. The actors are not going to spout off Shakespeare. Though I guess this might be del Toro's attempt to get an Oscar category for Best Giant Robots vs. Giant Monsters film. What you get with Pacific Rim is a Top Gun with giant robots instead of jet fighters. Yep, there's conflict between pilots. You get your fist fight with pilots. The main character, Becket, has emotional scars that handicap him from piloting his machine. Mori must overcome her own demons to show her worth to pilot a Jaeger. See a bunch of cliches.

But somewhere among the contrivances and cliches, there's a fun movie. Come on. it's giant robots. Giant monsters. Del Toro mixes martial arts with all the mayhem that is caused when giant robots fight giant monsters in big cities. The fights are logical and exciting. I mean you got giant robots that use train cars and ships as bludgeons. Buildings crumble. Monster guts are spilled all over the place. And later the humans recycle the monster guts for consumption. Gross but it's funny cool. Maybe there's a special Oscar here. Best Giant Monster Brains in a movie. How about Best Giant Monster Parasite in a movie? But a good movie cannot survive merely on action scenes. There's got to be people we care about. The most compelling is that of Mori who we see in a sad and harrowing flashback when a Kaiju chases her as a little girl.

As for the 3D version of this film, when I was watching it I thought at times it was filmed in 3D. Then other times it was clear it was conversion from 2D. After researching it, I found out why it looked that way. Pacific Rim is a hybrid. CGI scenes were shot in native 3D. So those special effects CGI scenes have depth. However, many scenes in the movie lack pop or a pushing out effect. It's what I call the snobby approach to 3D. Look you've got to use the 3D medium or lose it. Still, because the CGI scenes have depth, I mildly recommend seeing Pacific Rim in 3D.

Pacific Rim is one fun movie but don't expect Oscars. If I were the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, I would say this. "Best Giant Robots versus Giant Monsters Movie, ever." The grade is B.


Diwali said...

If you are a fan of the anime genre ( Gundam to make an example) you will find this American production very enjoyable. A good transposition of japanese cartoos to the Cinema of Special Effects. The robot movements are an improvement of the Mechanisms seen in the Transformers series

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