Reviewed by

L. Sue

I went into Pacific Rim with a take it or leave it mentality. How amazing is this director? It must be stated the only movie of Guillermo’s I’ve seen is Pan’s Labyrinth, and I wasn’t a fan.  The adage is, lower your expectations and you won’t be disappointed, right? Well, not so much in this case.  The pace of the movie was quick enough, but I still was able to ponder a few things. A sure sign the movie isn’t quite there if I’m off in my own world. It would have been interesting to see Guillermo’s take on the Hobbit, but I digress.


As I was watching this, it occurs to me. Bring back Voltron! The future is often portrayed with robots that are so smart they wipe out mankind, or at the very least make mankind irrelevant (think Terminator, I, Robot, Wall E) Yet these jaegers require humans to power them, just like Voltron. Robots are machines after all, and are only as good as the humans operating them, in this case piloting them. Unlike Voltron, one human couldn’t handle operating a jaeger by themselves, it requires 2 people. How does one achieve such synchronicity? Through a series of tests, you can see if you two are compatible (what about 3 people? That must be one crazy test). The process of drifting is akin to the Vulcan mind meld or what happened in Avatar, with it being more like Avatar because one can’t simply touch (like a Vulcan) and meld minds, lots of machinery is involved. Hence, bring back Voltron. Pilots who were one with their robot, but didn’t require a drift or mind meld like process, and could still save the planet. All Voltron required was one awesome chant to harness their power.


The mind melding process allows this movie to delve into the drama, and make it seem deeper than your average summer blockbuster.  Through the drift we see Mako’s secret past, that neither she nor the Marshall really talk about. But who needs talk when you have the drift? Hence there isn’t a lot of dialogue in the movie moving the plot forward. It is the drift that Raleigh has been running from for years when he is found by the Marshall. He never got over his last drift experience, and has been

wrestling with that ghost ever since. One wants to weep for these sad sacks, but the tears don’t come. We know what is eating away at them, but never actually hear how it is eating away at them. Because they have the drift, there is no need for words. Except for the audience. More dialogue would have made these two more sympathetic.  Even the Marshall and his story is told to the audience in a condensed, unemotional tone. Just because we know the facts doesn’t mean we will empathize, a movie’s gotta work for that. A movie’s got to work at making the audience feel for the characters, good or bad. We the audience want to be invested, we want to cheer the good guy and boo the bad guy.


So as we’re chugging along, like a jaeger chasing a kaiju we peel away these character’s stories but somehow they seem generic, and wanting. Besides the lack of dialogue, there is that feeling of familiarity. Haven’t I seen this drift used somewhere else? Oh right, something like that was in Avatar. That monster that is stomping through Asia- didn’t it resemble Godzilla? And that one King Kong?  Just ever so slightly, as this was a dark movie (as in it was poorly lit) so it was difficult for me to make out the monsters.  I was looking real hard though, wanting to see these amazing Kaijus. What little I did see left me disappointed, perhaps had either ILM or Weta created these monsters I would be more in awe, but what little I did see reminded me of other movies.

This movie was all over the map, which in the end, I think was the most disappointing of all. There wasn’t anything particularly bad about the movie, but it just left me wanting more. It reminded me of more exciting movies, and the potential this movie squandered. The movie has the sad, dramatic back stories of the main characters. There is comic relief in the always awesome Charlie Day and Ron Perlman, which if there was more of them perhaps the movie would have been better. And then there is the political overtones, I don’t think any movie building up walls to stop any invasion (alien, zombie, or human) can escape the political immigration statement. And to date, none of the walls hold up. So combine all this, does it move the audience? Are we, the viewing public, cheering the jagers or the kaiju? Are we emotionally invested in the ending? 

I came out thinking in the end, why fight it? What exactly is the human race clinging to? It is indeed a cold day when survivors are holed up in the Arctic, people sell out each other, and even romance appears to be dead. If that is the world the kaiju want, I say let them have it, clearly we haven’t been the best stewards. Sure the kaiju seem bad, and I understand the destruction of the earth is also bad. However I wasn’t feeling the hate, the desire for the kaiju to all be killed. I still ponder how the ending even came about, it was so wacky. This particular blend of drama, comedy, and romance that doesn’t need audience involvement wasn’t for me, but I suspect a sequel.

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