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When it comes to action movies, some are unapologetically dumb, while others aspire to be something more artistic or intellectual. Both approaches can work well or fall flat, but while Pacific Rim isn't especially original or intellectual, it's well-made.
The plot is fairly simple and not especially original- humanity, under siege by giant Kaiju must fight them off with Humongous Mecha called Jaegers. It's a standard and almost cliché setting, but there's a surprising amount of thought put into it, from the mechanisms needed to control the Jaegers to people getting the idea to harvest Kaiju parts, which helps make the setting feel a bit more real.
The characters are an interesting lot, who quickly establish their fairly memorable personalities but also have considerable Hidden Depths. Mako is one of the first female action heroes with her own narrative arc, and while she has important relationships with Raleigh and Pentecost, she isn't defined by them. It's fairly telling that while Chuck could have been little more than the "jerk" character, he has some valid (if harshly expressed) points, showing that the filmmakers are willing to flesh out their characters rather than resort to stereotypes. As such, you can easily connect with and empathize with the characters, thus giving the movie a strong human element.
The action is where the film truly shines. The Jaegers come with a variety of abilities and fighting styles, making for some entertaining battles. It might have been nice to see more of the other Jaegers, but this isn't too much of a point against the film.
All in all, the film isn't particularly deep, but it's well-crafted and highly enjoyable to watch, which is ultimately what matters most.
I went into the movie knowing of the extra material, having read the main page here and several reviews, but I settled on forming my own opinion since they were contradictory. I found it disappointing.
The production values of the movie are top notch from start to finish, and I can't find fault with the design or the effects. But there's not much to talk about with perfection, and you want to know why I was disappointed.
The characterization was shoddy- the scientists were cliche idiots, 2 sets of pilots were blatantly treated like cannon fodder, Chau failed to be at all threatening, mission control served his purpose but was forgettable, and everyone else seemed to stand or run around without purpose. I don't like reading into nationality, but I couldn't help but read something into the only 5 characters to receive significant characterization being 3 Americans (one adoptive) and two Australians. I couldn't find a reason to care about any except the main pair. Sure Pentecost is awesome and leaderly, but that's a role not a character, and his relationship with Mako is dragged along like an anchor.
The world building and plotting is lackluster on screen. There's lots of information in the beginning that flows too fast to catch in a theater, and too much left to the manual. Too much is left for us to accept, relayed awkwardly, slightly off, or just plain wrong. Too many Headscratching bits that pulled me out of the movie instead of letting me relax and enjoy. If I were more able to turn my brain off I could have enjoyed it more, but cliche after continuity error after illogical action didn't allow that for me- everything from Makos very first drift talking place in a fully enabled Jaeger to multiple failsafe failures to a dozen helicopters flying at speed over the two people they're supposed to be picking up (no, don't try to justify them to me in comments; they're 3 examples among dozens).
I still recommend this movie, especially if you're more able to ignore stuff than I am. del Toro's love and attention is visually unmistakeable. It's just too bad the writing and storyboarding didn't come close to matching.
First review in my life. Spoilers. Here we go... I think this film did a great job of bringing the giant robot genre to western cinemas. The designs of the Kaiju and Jaegers were amazing, and extremely well rendered. What I can praise above all is how intense I felt, watching this movie at the cinema. I really felt the action, desperation and elation when watching the battles (including Mako's flashback). They were utterly epic. However, I have two major problems with this film, and I hope to see them rectified in the sequel:
1) Show, don't tell. Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon died way too quickly. While I'm sure it was meant to show how dangerous the new Kaiju were, the effect was lessened by how we only see the two Jaegers fail. Stacker's descriptions of them and their records count for little when their fight in the movie might as well be played to Bulk and Skull's theme. It wasn't so much how they were dispatched, but how they couldn't show off their prowess before dying.
2) Artificially raising the stakes only works so many times. By artificial, I mean how both the Jaegers and Kaiju kept revealing new, game-breaking attacks that gave them the advantage (e.g. the EMP, wings and the sword). The movie kept shifting sharply between "Yeah, the good guys are winning!" and "Oh no, the bad guys are winning!". It wasn't the physics (I had no problem with a ship being used as a club. I knew it was ridiculous, but I didn't care because it was awesome), but how the weapons were used in the film. The Kaiju flying was what broke it for me. I (mentally) threw my hands up, said "Oh come on!" and spent the rest of the film not caring, just waiting for it to end. To be fair, I didn't have a problem with anything that happened after the battle in Hong Kong.
The rest of it was fine. The cliches and characters were acceptable. The soundtrack was great. I do look forward to the sequel. I enjoyed watching Pacific Rim at the cinema, I don't regret buying a ticket at all, but I won't be buying it on DVD.
After some thought, I've realised that the best praise I can give this movie is that I don't know how I could have done it better. Despite the problems I had with it, I can't easily think of improvements.
I loved this movie. That's the first thing I'm going to say about it. It does have flaws, but it works excellently none the less. The effects and action sequences are certainly fantastic, but director Guillermo Del Toro never lets us forget about the human characters caught up in the action. Yes, people will certainly come for the giant robots slugging it out with giant monsters, but for me, and for others I'm sure, this movie is a classic case of Come for the X, Stay for the Y. The nicest surprise for me was that you actually care about whether or not main characters live or die. Especially the characters fighting at the breach. My biggest complaint is that the other Jaeger pilots are killed off too quickly. This is the kind of movie that Michael Bay wishes he could direct.
Being a huge of mecha and kaiju anime and video games, I was greatly pleased to see Guillermo Del Toro taking a chance in such film, seeing as I'm big fan of him too.
Visuals are great, fights exhilarating and visceral, designs are excellent, and I even got a few laughs too.
While the film is a great big pile of fun, I can't help but feel that this is one of his weaker films. I'm aware it's essentially a "live action anime" with the appropriate tropes and cliches to match, serving as homage, but it's a bit weaker in some areas for it. Or at least, the film would of been better if it didn't take itself so seriously or subverting some of tropes. These problems bothered me most in the characterization, particularly the lead, his rival, and the female lead; the anime tropes are played so straight here, it just feels tired and ended up being the most uninteresting part.
The worst part of the film, is for whatever reason, the head of the Jaegar project decides to put a talented, but obviously traumatized, rookie into a Jaegar, triggering her via neural handshake, nearly ruining everything. This just seems really off in a military setting and done solely for drama.
Characterization aside, the best parts of the film are obviously the Kaiju fights and the performances of Ron Perlman and Idris Elba. I went into this film wanting to see the sheer spectacle of giant robots with great names fighting kaiju, and it delivered. If you can over the iffy characterization and cliches played so straight in a film that takes its self seriously, go see it.
edit: But also, what disappointed me above all else was the limited screentime of the other jaegers. :(
Pacific Rim is a very solid movie. The setting is established nice and succinctly with a sequence and narration of how things got how they are in the film. After the narration is over, the first action scene is mere minutes away. The CGI and effects are fantastic, which makes all the fights a joy to watch.
The plot your basic underdog story; humans face insurmountable odds but persist anyway, and eventually come out on top. It's nothing special, and the film knows this and doesn't attempt to hide it. It doesn't pretend it's deeper than it is, which only works in the movie's favor. It's a very honest movie.
This doesn't mean that there's no character interaction, however, but the characters are good and enjoyable; Raleigh and Mako have good chemistry and play off of each other very well, as do Raleigh and Pentecost. As a result, the character scenes are never boring, nor do they last for too long, so you never feel like you're waiting for another fight scene.
Perhaps it's biggest flaw is that the other Jaegers don't get as much screentime as Gipsy Ranger or Striker Eureka. Crimson Typhoon is dispatched at one point in the film and is quickly taken down. When Cherno Alpha comes to their aid, they too, are quickly finished off.
All in all, a very good film to just sit back and enjoy with a bag of popcorn by your side. I recommend anyone reading this to go see it if they haven't already.
I saw the previews.
Giant Robots vs. Giant Monsters with some badass lines (cancelling the apocalypse, anyone?) Got it. Apparently-good visual effects.
Anything else (plot, characters) is a bonus. Anything that's so okay it's average meets/exceeds my expectations.
Thus, characters who I related to at all whether it was to initially dislike them (Stacker, Chuck) or say "Wow, your life sucks" (Raleigh, Mako) meant there was more than just monsters/machines.
Sure, TV Tropes meant I could predict most of the plot elements, but again, since I was expecting this, I wasn't bothered. What I was surprised by came from the LACK of a romance that took up a good chunk of the movie/existed just to have romance (sex scene optional)—even on this very wiki, it's not known for sure whether it's Platonic Life Partners, Battle Couple, Brother-Sister... The last scene in the ocean had me waiting for the kiss—and it never happened. The movie was better off for it.
The movie's pacing was also good given the type of movie this is. If an action movie leave you saying "Wait, that was only 1.5 hours? Felt like 3!" then obviously, there were too many slow parts. This one left my friend and I saying "That was two hours? Felt much shorter!"
The CGI wasn't too conspicuous, and apparently the control rooms for the giant robots were real (four-story-tall) sets with some enforced method acting.
As long as you go into the film knowing what you're going to get, you won't be disappointed.
And that's about all that needs to be said.
The sum and whole of the movie is Giant Robots, extremely well-rendered in CGI. Even the monstrous kaiju aren't as interesting, or even as well-detailed (though they're pretty good).
Frankly, everything else is B-movie quality. The plot itself is recycled from any number of sports movies or heroic sacrifice war movies. The characters are mostly cardboard cutouts, with even the main 3 being quite two dimensional. The acting was reasonably good, however, particularly given the limited amount of characterization and opportunity that the script gave them to work with.
There's a whole bunch of cliches and stereotyping going on, and big enough plot holes to drive a truck through.
But that's not the point: the movie is just about watching Giant Robots fight Huge Monsters, and trash the scenery while doing it. If that's what you want, then it's glorious. If you actually want something other (like, maybe an actual story, rather than a 2-hour trailer) then you're in for a serious disappointment.
Personally, it fails as even a popcorn film, because, well, there's no film - it's a bunch of action scenes stitched together with dialogue scenes that you just don't care about, and can't wait to get back to the monster-trashing. It's about as good a movie as Battleship, for mostly the same reasons. But, the Jaegers sure were cool...
It's been almost a week since I checked out Pacific Rim, and I'm still on a high. A rollicking, boisterous, endlessly entertaining movie, Pacific Rim also excels in keeping the audience transfixed on what happens. There's no Michael Bay-style twitchy, half-hour single action sequences, and none of the exhausting destruction of Man of Steel - Rim focuses on taut, sprawling brawls between giant robots and massive monsters and it does it with a real, raw heart.
The trick is the concept of Drifting, the synchronizing of two pilots to operate the enormous (and extremely well-designed) Jaegers. The Drift doesn't work if the pilots don't work together, so the characters must develop, solve their problems and bash out their issues so the bowel-breaking fights can actually happen. Even if the characters themselves range from the wonderful (Mako Mori, Stacker Pentecost) to the bland (ostensible protagonist Raleigh Becket) to the amusingly caricatured (every foreign pilot, especially the towering, frost-haired husky Ruskies), they all feel worthwhile in a manner that could only be described as like a Saturday Morning Cartoon. We care because they're in cool outfits and driving giant robots.
And what robots! Each Jaeger has a wonderful sense of design behind it, moves in it's own way and fights with a style that must have taken Guillermo del Toro and company some time to mape out - if they all don't have detailed fanpages by the years end I'll eat my hat. They glimmer and groan and engage in brutal rumbles with the equally stellar Kaijus in a chain of completely astounding action sequences that left cinema-goers (in my screening, at least) slack-jawed and breathless. The film is awesome in the truest sense of the word.
The plot is a little thin, to be honest, but it doesn't hamper it. There's no flabby exposition or bloated mythology in Rim - it elects to stand on its own massive feet, and it stands like only a mecha could. Perhaps most importantly, the film is capturing new imaginations - there was a kid of nine or ten in the row in front who was absolutely energized by the film. If it can have that power and keep it going, Pacific Rim is going to be a movie worth remembering: and right now, it's one worth seeing as soon as you can.
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