October 29, 2013

Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro, 2013

As giant alien creatures (known as the Kaiju) ascend from the middle of the earth to destroy humanity, humans join together to mobilize a defense. They decide to fight fire with fire as they create massive robots called Jaeger's that rival the Kaiju in size. These robotic machines are human operated involving two people bound by the mind. They are able to gain a bit of a foothold in the war with their machines but are intent on destroying the crevice in which they emerge from.

A film likely to be adored by thirteen year old boys across America. And only them. Guillermo del Toro proves that he should stick to the Fantasy genre, and not enter the world of big Hollywood Blockbusters. Toro goes from treating viewers to such haunting, imaginative creations in Pan's Labyrinth to removing all layered storytelling and just shoving big budget effects down our throats. Like the monstrous Jaegers in Pacific Rim, the film is bloated, too big for its own good, uninspired, and derivative. The premise itself feels imitative. The look of Iron Man. The interface of Avatar. The utter destructionism of Godzilla. The Transformers-like battles. Yeah, we've seen all of that. It's been done before. 

What is the point of the soldiers proving that they are capable of proving their martial arts abilities? The robots don't even utilize those moves. They slowly punch through the air like soaking wet Rock-em Sock-em toys. Oh, and they can break out a sword in a clutch moment to abruptly end the battle so the film can make one of many erratic cuts in the story? How convenientThe $190M budget was clearly spent on CGI and not on the writing. The dialogue is so elementary and just feels empty and downright lacking. Cliche sayings like "step into my office" or "let me check for a pulse, okay, no pulse". Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) does step out of his Jax Teller comfort zone (albeit handcuffed to Ron Perlman), and does come off as a more wholesome figure than his well-known Samcro President role. And poor Idris Elba. The man who will always live in infamy for his role as Stringer Bell deserves more than this. But he probably made the mistake we all did. We all saw Guillermo del Toro's name on it, and thought: "how could this be a bad move?!". He had nothing to work with. The soldiers jump into the Jaeger head and they look like Daft Punk members who couldn't play an instrument. The interpersonal relationships between father and son, or almost-lovers feels rigid. It will be interesting to see how history treats this film. Maybe Guillermo is saying bye bye to his darker days. Clearly at this point he is more inclined to channel Ishiro Honda instead of The Brothers Grimm. 

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