Pacific Rim

I think I have solid geek credentials.  I’m a big D&D fan with an encyclopedia-like knowledge of the Song of Ice & Fire Series.  I’ve forgotten more about the Simpsons than most plebs will ever achieve.  I feel a little guilty that I did not like Pacific Rim.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the appeal.  I find the world very interesting.  I liked the comic book.  But the execution is just so bland.  I enjoy seeing how this world functions with monsters and giant robots running around in it.  Mako isn’t just some girl, the comic explains that she’s kind of a celebrity, she’s “Tokyo’s Daughter” and a cultural icon of the Kaiju era akin to the Victory Day Photo or the My Lai Massacre.  Staying with Jax Teller is probably the most boring way to experience this world because he’s locked in a bunker.  The movie is telling his story but he’s not the one with the most interesting story to tell.  His viewpoint is building the Alaskan Wall and hanging out in a bunker.  His point of view is not the best way to experience this world.

Then the movie purports to be about monsters and robots without showing monsters and robots.  How do you fuck that up?  And cut the politics about “oh shit we need to build a wall.”  The prologue comic portrayed that part of the story in a much better, more believable way.  The movie is, “politicians wanna build the wall but its not gonna work cuz they’re wrrrrong!!!!”  The Comic is a much more compelling narrative that, they built the Jaegers, and now the wall is replacing them.  The Jaeger Pilots are depressed because they were humanity’s heroes and now they’re obsolete.  The story is a timeless one of people finding themselves in war only to be unaccustomed to the culture of the people they’ve saved.  The movie just makes the politicians assholes, brings classism into it by saying the rich people are moving inland, and even brings in environmentalism into it.  Remember kids, save the planet, or we’ll be attacked by aliens with a greater tolerance for pollution than us.

All right, I don’t want to turn this into a “The Comic Was Better” review for something that was supposed to sell me on the movie.  The movie does get better (a little bit) in the last hour when we FINALLY get back to monsters and robots.  But it washes over what should be the good part so damn fast by killing the Russian and Chinese teams.  Did we need to watch the Russians suffer and die?  The Chinese pilots and even Jax’s brother get these quick deaths.  Meanwhile the Russians get hit with acid, stabbed, drowned, and then ripped apart all while the movie is blasting the Soviet anthem while they’re on screen.  Is it like a rule that the Russians have to suffer most?  It made sense, but its kinda racist right?  Then they’ve got this Chinese robot and its like oh shit he’s got three arms…for like 30 seconds.  The monsters just straight up kick the robots’ asses until Jax and Mako join the party.  Amurica to the rescue!  It was an international effort…for about a minute.  Also, there’s an aerospace engineer in me that died a little on the inside when that thing flies.  No way I bought that something that big can fly like that.  It was cool, when half of you says shit it can fly the other half of you says, wait no it can’t.

Then they kill the two monsters and it sucks again.  I really didn’t want to be that guy.  One of the things I’ve heard about Transformers and this movie is that they suck when there are no robots.  I believe it about Transformers, but I didn’t about this.  And I was wrong.  I thought the cast and director could sustain my interest in the non-fight parts.  No, one the fight is over in Hong Kong I just lose interest, its just the characters talking about things I’m not really interested in.  I still like the idea of the world, and the Kaiju drift especially.

Then there are the questions of logic aside from “can something that big fly?”  Is the human form really the best form to fight giant monsters?  A couple times the Kaiju go straight for the head where the pilot is and they said they’re adapting to their strategies, so do they have to stick with humanoid robots?  It seems like the Russian more tank-like bot is much better suited to endure combat than the flimsier newer bots.  Another thing is the nuke at the end.  They’re going to detonate a massive bomb specifically built by Russia.  Then they scrap that plan to use the Robot’s nuclear reactor.  Does it make sense that the robot’s core is just as good as a specifically designed destructive weapon?  And I’m sorry, but I can’t let this go.  Having a character running around dressed like The Doctor just distracts the hell out of me.

Even the stuff I like, I need to qualify.  The fight scenes are good for the same reason fireworks are good.  It’s pretty.  But even as far as action scenes go, this movie is still shit.  Avatar, Avengers, The Matrix, District 9, I like those movies action scenes more and I’m trying to figure out why.  It’s a question of what else the movie has going for it.  What I need from a movie is something clever.  Good dialogue between the characters, even a little bit, makes a world of difference for me.  Avatar sucks but it has Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang amongst others.  District 9 is Avatar in brown instead of blue, but Wikus’s journey makes it special.  Then take a movie everyone hates and despises: Dark Shadows.  I still like the interactions between the characters here.  I like that movie.  Pacific Rim just has nothing going for it that I find interesting.  Jax Teller is compatible with the chick.  Great.  Some animators did an incredible job rendering a fucking robot.  Isn’t that special.  There is nothing here that interests me.  Its a genre film from a genre that does nothing for me.