Saturday, 27 July 2013

In Review: Pacific Rim


((((((((( Contains Spoilers ))))))))))
and possibly typos 
:P

So I went to the cinema to see Pacific Rim a couple nights ago. I’ve been mulling over this movie ever since. 

I’m just going to get right down to it.

Pacific Rim was incredible from a CGI, special effects stand point. The Kaijus and Jaegers were pure awesome. The weaponization of the machines—awesome. The elbow rocket and chain sword—awesome…I could go on, but I think you get my point. The battle scenes were huge taking place on the ground, in and under the water, even in the air. I got a kick out of seeing these mega mecha machines marching into the Pacific Ocean making it look like they were wading through the shallow end of the kiddie pool. And of course, I also really liked the concept of “drifting” with another person via a neural bridge as means to merge with the Jaeger. All of that was really cool. Another element that got me all kinds of excited was seeing Jaegers hailing from different countries, Australia, China, Russia, and the USA. Guillermo del Toro and his team did a superb job of personalizing each Jaeger to its country of origin. I also thought they did a great job of creating Pacific Rim Kaijus reminiscent of the original Kaiju films. Then there was the set of the Hong Kong facility that housed the Jaegers which was also incredible and had great attention to detail. And we even get to see a decent martial arts fight scene between Mako Mori (she was simply bad ass) and Raleigh Becket. 

However . . . there were several things that disappointed me about this film.

Lets start with the Jaegers. I was disappointed to see the Chinese Jaeger, Crimson Typhoon, get so little screen time. I thought it got taken down way too easily. I mean the thing has three arms and is piloted by triplets--COME ON. At the very least, it should have had a more honorable death. It would have also been fun to see the Jaegers take on the personalities of their pilots through their fighting styles. We kinda get a taste of that with the Russian Jaeger, Cherno Alpha, when it pounds the crap out of a Kaiju--all power, no finesse, just like I’d picture the Russian bear with a lost camper. But Cherno Alpha had very little screen time as well and was ripped to shreds shortly after Crimson Typhoon. *sigh* 

Also, I would have liked to have seen a Japanese Jaeger, just sayin…

Then there was the plot. In the film, the Kaijus are smart, adaptable and have a hive-like mind. Wouldn't this have prompted them to change their strategy when the two scientists drifted with the newborn? And I think the film could have expanded on why the Kaijus were after Newton, the scientist who drifted with the secondary brain. Unfortunately, the Kaijus never really did anything with him except for one that sorta licked Newton, but it wasn’t clear what that was all about. Honestly, the Kaiju should have just eaten him. 

Oh and a flare gun? Really guys? *shakes head*

The characters. Le grand sigh. This was by far the biggest bummer in this film. I never connect with any of the characters. Live or become Kaiju chewing gum, it didn’t matter to me. Could this be because I’m a heartless b****, OR is it because Pacific Rim cruelly lacked character development? Though highly debatable, (; I’m going with the latter. This film borrowed from many other science fiction movies and reminded me a lot of Armageddon, Independence Day, even Top Gun. But with all this potential, it never quite hit the mark. The rivalry between pilots Becket and Chuck could have easily been better developed with more trash talking between them (Maverick vs Iceman, anyone?). And the supposedly deep emotional connection between Becket and Mako I thought was terribly done and failed to convince me anything was really there. And remember when Bruce Willis sacrificed himself in Armageddon? I don’t know about you, but I shed my little tear. But when Stacker and Chuck blew up, I was like…meh, pass the chips. 

There was another point in the film where I felt pretty indifferent and that was during Mako’s traumatizing childhood memory when she drifts with Becket for the first time. At the end of that scene, we see her as a small child staring up at a Jaeger that just defeated the Kaiju that killed her family. Stacker, the pilot of the Jaeger, comes out and stands on top of his Jaeger (why the hell he’d do that in the first place I don’t know) like he’s Superman smiling down at little Mako (who is so far away she’s just a speck from where he’s standing, but I get I’m just being bitchy at this point). Anyway, he’s looking at her and she’s looking at him as if he’s some giant ice cream cone, and the whole scene is kinda cheesy. You know what would have been better? Having the Jaeger bend on one knee, put his hand down in front of little Mako, and have her climb into this massive metal hand and have him raise her up a la King Kong. Cliché? Absolutely. Effective? I think so. The scene could have also included a quick 5 second shot of Stacker in the Jaeger looking at the child with tenderness in his eyes and why not have him whisper a promise to be her protector for the rest of his life…or something like that. 

Which brings me to the dialogue. This movie had the potential for some great lines, peppered with humor but it fell short here as well. Honestly, there was some pretty bad lines in this film. The best ones were what you got in the trailer like, 

“…today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!” ç I thought that was pretty awesome. 

Overall, I think this film just needed to be a bit longer to carve out believable and more rounded characters. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t regret the money spent on tickets or the time spent looking for a cinema that still had a showing in English. The 3D was well done and this film, of massive proportions, deserved to be watched on the big screen. But for the rest, damn, it could have been so much better.

53 comments:

  1. It wasn't his strongest film, but I did identify with the characters. And I enjoyed the heck out of it. I think it appeals more to the men and the twelve-year-old in us that has always wanted to see giant monsters fight giant robots. Could it have used something more? More storyline? Sure. Did I care? Not really. I got exactly what I expected and wanted from this film. And I can't wait for the DVD so I can relive the effects and 3D glory again.

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    1. I enjoyed it too, the "WOW" factor was definitely there, but unlike you, I expected a bit more. I guess I just 'want it all' when it comes to movies. :) I wouldn't mind seeing it again, but only if I can see it for free.

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  2. Yeah it doesn't try to be anything it is not, monsters vs robots without a ton of plot haha works for me though.

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    1. The monster vs robot action was great, but yeah the plot could have been better mate.

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  3. I like a good plot in my movies, but then I also enjoy some smash 'em and bash 'em. Dunno when I will ever get to see this movie, but I think it is one I would watch from what I read.

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    1. I'm a big fan of "smash and bash" movies too, and from that stand point, this movie definitely does deliver.

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  4. I haven't seen it, but I plan on waiting for Netflix, anyway.

    After getting burned by The Lone Ranger and then (last night), The Wolverine, I'm about through with the movies for a while.

    I was never a huge 'mecha' fan, anyway :)

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    1. Oh nooooooo. Sorry to hear Wolverine didn't deliver. I've been wanting to see that one too.....uggg. I may have to wait on that one.

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  5. Seems like there are quite a few disappointing summer films out now. I do plan to see Fruitvale Station. Thought I'd see it today, but wasn't in the mood for that type of movie today. Maybe tomorrow. Writer’s Mark

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    1. The Fruitvale Station looks like a powerful film that'll make you think. I've seen good reviews for it too. It's another one I'd like to watch this summer as well.

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  6. Weird there was no Japanese Jaegar since I heard this was a Japanese monster movie. I love me some good graphics, but I like the whole package in a movie, you know. Sounds like it was action packed though and that's always worth a watch at some point.

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    1. I know! This movie is supposed to be a tip of the hat to Japanese kaiju films but there was no Japanese Jaeger. Boo. But definitely an action packed film with great CGI.

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  7. I've heard the same kind of comments about WWZ. All CGI flash and zero heart and character development. ALL screenwriters should know by now that making the audience care about the character trumps everything else. I've heard this is why viewers like "The Conjuring" so much. Thanks for your review - it made me think. :-)

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    1. Well I'm definitely NOT going to see WWZ. I'm a zombie chicken...uhhh... I mean I'm a chicken when it comes to zombie movies...errr...you know what I mean. (: But yeah, you got the picture here, all visual effects eye candy and no heart.

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  8. Haven't seen Pacific Rim, although the special effects looks pretty awesome. And after reading your blog, I think I'll wait until it comes out on DVD. Thanks, Elise

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    1. I'm glad I saw it on the big screen for the visual effects alone, but it's lacking in plot and heart. Definitely wait if you don't mind seeing this kind of film on a home screen. (:

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  9. Maybe that's part of the reason it's under performing at the box office. Thanks for your honest review Elise.

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    1. It might be... I wonder how well it's done here in France. I'm going to look that up...

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  10. Thank you, Elise! This is definitely a DVDer for me...I don't go to the movies unless I get a trusted 5 star opinion, and since your stars are less than 5, I'm going to wait for this one! :)

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    1. I wouldn't give this one a 5 but I wish I could. I'm hoping Man of Steel won't disappoint.

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  11. I haven't seen this or any of the movies that have come out lately - I'm so out of touch, arrrgh! But it sounds like this one was just a bit 'meh'.

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    1. Well the visuals and special effects were great and so was the monster on machine action, but the rest could have been better. Hope you get around to watching a good movie one of these days. (:

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  12. The movie looks so amazing, but it really seems like that's all there is to it. How boring. I think I'll pass.

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    1. Go and watch it for the visual and special effects, just don't expect much of anything else. (:

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  13. Yeah, I think I'll skip on it! Awesome review, Elise!

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    1. Thanks Stina. It was still a fun movie to watch.

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  14. I haven't seen it, but I agree with you about picking the girl up.
    Great review! :)

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  15. Not my cup of tea - at all - so I just have one question: Was there a German pilot who led the men and drank lots of nasty-tasting shots?

    And if so, was he then the Jäger-meister ?

    PS... *thanks* for the review, 'cos I was wondering what the fuss was... now I know I can wait and watch this when it comes out at Blockbusters :)

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    1. I think they're saving the Jäger-meister for the sequel. It's gonna be a smash. (;

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  16. :) I skipped over the spoilers, since I haven't seen it yet. But enjoyed your review and can't wait to watch it!

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  17. I expected a little more, too. Enjoyed it though.

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  18. it's quite unexpected that the film kinda flopped at the boxoffice.

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    1. I really thought this was going to be the film of the summer. *le sigh*

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  19. Great review. I suppose when it boils down to basics, I just love giant monsters punching robots. And Charlie Hunnam sure is good looking.

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    1. You should have been one of the writers for the movie.

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  20. Great review! Shame it didn't live up to its potential, but then again it's not the first time we've seen FX take precedence over characters/plot. When will they learn, eh?

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    1. I know! When will they learn... (:

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  21. I've yet to see this one, though hubby has been itching to go. Definitely looks interesting, and I wasn't expecting much in the characterization department, I'll admit :) (lol, loved the 'meh...pass the chips' line!)

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    1. I think the problem I had is I was expecting too much from this movie. I really wanted it to be an all round awesome summer blockbuster. Oh well. The special effects were awesome though. The chips too. (;

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  22. Thanks for the review! I love the idea of this story, but I'm all about characters. I can wait for this to come onto DVD.

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    1. The concept behind the technology was really great and refreshing in this movie, I'll definitely give them that. (:

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  23. Hey Elise,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! Goodbye....

    Oops, yes, you are correct, your post is long....very long. Then again, I skimmed, sorry, I thoroughly read the entire review of "Pacific Ram." I do think you bring up some important points. Not identifying or connecting with the characters in the movie, is not good. And was there any mention of Canadian Jaegers eh? Was Mick Jaeger in the movie? Do I want to move like Jaeger? Questions, question...

    I'm going back to my blog now.

    Gary :)

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  24. I hate it when a movie is so close to the bull's eye, but just needed a wee bit of something else to make it excellent. I felt that way with The Hobbit...it was good, but needed a little more something.

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  25. I haven't seen this one yet, but then again, I don't think I've seen a single movie yet this summer.

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  26. I so want to see this! Thanks Elise for your detailed review! Oh, no not flare guns.... I want better technology, than that!

    I hope you and yours are having a wonderful summer!!

    Thanks for sharing :D

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  27. I'm so movie-challenged, it's unbelievable!
    If my life depended on it - I'd be a goner... for sure... LOL
    Writer In Transit

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  28. Hey Elise.

    I haven't seen it yet and didn't want to see the spoilers so I skipped to the end of your review. It unfortunately doesn't surprise me that the character development lacked. Maybe someday Hollywood can give us action, great special effects and interesting characters, lol.

    =)

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  29. My friends loved it. We need to see a movie together!!!

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  30. You're typo-free.

    I loved it, and in the exact same way you did. I was angry that the Crimson Typhoon got knocked out of the fight so quickly. I wanted to see those three arms wailing on a beast for more than 2 seconds.

    Character development was lacking a bit, I agree. But these movies are pretty plot driven. I'd give Independence Day a leg up on character development when I compare the two.

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  31. My review would be almost identical to yours, Elise. I enjoyed the hell out of it--in the way an 8 year old enjoys going to see monster trucks crush cars. It was loud, obnoxious, over-the-top, and awesome in that way. :)

    I counted at least 6 little phrases like, "Let's do this!" that were used over and over again, and not in a cute, "It's our catchphrase!" kind of way. Just in a lazy writing kind of way. Seems like plotting, dialogue, etc. bugged you for the same reasons it bugged me: it didn't destroy the movie or make it unwatchable--a testament to how kick ass everything else was--but it definitely kept it from being one of the best movies I've ever seen. Which it totally could've been with a bit more thought.

    By comparison, I did watch maybe the best movie I've seen all summer last weekend, The Wolverine. It was paced and plotted tightly, I thought, and the characters were deep and fantastic. PLUS, it had tons of great effects and action. (Solid 8.5 out of 10 for me--pushing a 9.)

    By comparison, my nitpick with the Superman movie (7.5/10) earlier this summer was that it didn't develop its characters either, but spent a ton of time blowing everything on the planet up. It was almost more egregious than Pacific Rim, because you knew it was trying very hard to be both an action movie and a drama. (Much like the Batman movies succeeded in doing.) Pacific Rim pulls no punches: It's a crazy action movie to its bones, and really doesn't care if it makes sense.

    Pacific Rim should be seen by all fans of technical cinema. It sets a new bar for visual and sound immersion, in a very similar way that Avatar did a few years back. But if you demand full emotional and mental engagement from your movies, too, you probably won't enjoy it as much. 7.5/10 :)

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