2013 - Guillermo Del Toro
There are some movies that you go into knowing that you aren’t going to be amazed. Everything about it looks like a joke: the trailer, the cast, those snippets of dialogue that are just fun enough to get you saying “that was a good line,” but not good enough to make you go see the movie (Nacho Libre, anyone?). Yet for some reason, I still go see these films. Call it being a glutton for punishment. Call it some glimmer of hope that I’ll walk away surprised and captivated. Call it a lack of air conditioning in my apartment. Whatever it was that made me utter the phrase “let’s go see Pacific Rim,” I can safely call it the stupidest thing I’ve done since setting even mediocre expectations for Man of Steel.
Deep beneath some crack in the tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean lies a dimensional portal to a world of aliens that are seeking to eradicate life on the planet so they can…something. Pacific Rim doesn’t care; you didn’t come for a plot. Bottom line, big monsters keep coming out of the ocean at an increasing rate to do…something…and the world has gotten together to create giant robots not known as mecha so they can engage in fist fights with the creatures not off the coast of Tokyo to save the world in a way that’s not a poor attempt to create a live action anime, honestly.
As a moviegoer, critic, and hell, even a nerd, I was hoping for a little effort from the teams not involved in post-production. But between the NUMEROUS plot holes, disregard for logic, overwhelming amount of “human interest” clichés, and some of the laziest script-writing I think I’ve ever heard, Pacific Rim cancels out its “cool factor” by committing the cardinal sin of this genre: trying to take itself seriously. Everyone has some haunted past, everyone has to overcome it right now for the sake of humanity. The hero is too reckless, the heroine is too damaged, but it works because it’s dysfunctional to the level of perfect. The distinguished commander is dying, the hotshot misses his father’s approval, the comic relief is looking to be the hero, and if all else fails, you can simply clear your mind and whip out a giant sword.
It’s difficult to not look at this movie from a fanboy perspective, because I can’t honestly see any other feasible demographic. “For people who liked Transformers, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Power Rangers as a kid, check out Pacific Rim. We merged everything that you may have liked about those and crammed them into some really cool action scenes with the hope that you’ll completely ignore everything else and then defend your appreciation of this movie with lines like ‘well, what did you expect exactly?’”
I think Pacific Rim honestly felt like it was getting away with not having a tangible plotline or characters that anyone cared about. It tried to grab at your heart by traumatizing the hero early, it almost wove a neat story about the aliens, and the whole mind-melding robot pilots concept could have carried some weight if it was ever actually explored with some creativity. However, even it seemed to realize that…well…there are robots on the next scene…who cares about depth?
But I have to ask, in that instance, if you’re a screenwriter who knows this going in, why not have a little fun with the areas that aren’t the eye candy people came to see? Play with the dialogue a bit, crack a few jokes, if you’re going to be ridiculous, be OVERLY ridiculous and then make fun of yourself for it (a great example: the non-use of masks in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol).
Pacific Rim is an action drama that would have done better as an action comedy. It was so ludicrous that it would have been funny if it played into that, but instead the movie was just horrible because it wanted to have its audience “really connect with what it would feel like if subterranean aliens wanted to exterminate us and we built giant robots to deal with it.” It’s the same problem I had with Man of Steel. Trying to approach something so off the wall insane with an incredible sense of reality doesn’t enhance the movie…it just makes it awkward and bad.
I can’t recommend Pacific Rim to anybody. I can’t even give you a palette cleanser if you have seen it because the obvious choice is Transformers and that’s a slippery slope to something equally bad. This film was just absolute crap from start to finish and I desperately pray that SOMEBODY gets this genre right (preferably in movie form and not while succumbing to a serious case of depression, NGE fans). I shut my brain off going into the theater and the awfulness of this movie even broke through that and got me banging my head against my chair.
But it did have giant robots. And they did punch big monsters. And what did I expect, exactly?
3/10. At least it wasn’t an offensively bad action movie like Gamer.