13 August 2014

FWS Movie Review: So...I Finally Saw PACIFIC RIM!

It was my intention for you, dear readers of FWS, to be NOT seeing another movie review. And if I was going to be posting another movie review, I wanted to be Guardians of the Galaxy...however, the last weeks have been crazy. At present, the Weapons of Sci-Fi blogpost about the BLADE RUNNER blaster and the combat exoskeleton blogpost are finished or nearly finished, but I am waiting on some independent contributors, which should be cool. Okay, enough bitching. The core mission of FWS is to be the #1 resource of all things military science fiction on the internet, and I try my best to review anything current and incoming in the world of military sci-fi...however, last year, Pacific Rim got away from me. I missed most of the summer of 2013, and the few I really wanted to see, I had to rent on AT&T U-Verse later, like Elysium and World War Z. I badly wanted to see Pacific Rim, after all, it was a premise that I've been waiting to see on-screen since I first watched Gundam and Godzilla when I was a small boy. However, it wasn't until August 4th, 2014 that I fucking finally watched this film. Why now? Honestly, Target had the 2-disc regular DVD on sale for $8, which was a good deal and I've been wanting to see this film, for some reason, recently. Also, readers of FWS have been sending me emails on Pacific Rim since last year asking what I thought. So, dear readers of FWS, it is time to talk about Pacific Rim...fucking finally.

The Plot
Giant robotic humanform mecha with two pilots play WWF on a massive scale with extra-dimensional monsters from a Japanese Godzilla fan's wet dream. All add up to grade-A mecha porn at its finest. That is it. Move along, people, move along.

One of the best elements of Pacific Rim was the director and visionary, Guillermo del Toro at the helm. In the hands of a lesser director, this movie would have been an CGI big budget Robot Jox, but instead, Pacific Rim was able to embody the time honored elements of popular Japanese media and set them in an live-action film. Pacific Rim would marry the giant robot mecha culture of Japan along with the big monster movies of Japan into a single narrative that more elevated beyond the realm of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In that, de Toro composed a beautifully directed love letter to this two art forms. At the film's best, the manned mecha and the monsters are engaged in hand-to-hand combat. It is in those moments that the promise of the premise of the film is fulfill with all of the geeky love flowing. One of the most powerful portions of the film, that did not involve the Jaeger vehicles, was the scene in which the audience watches the backstory of Mako Mori. There are fans that have stated that this scene should have been the opening to the film...and I tend to a agree. That was powerful stuff. The mecha and the monsters are also lovely designed and work as both characters and eye-candy for the film. Once again, much of the credit goes to del Toro for forging a unique vision of the world of Pacific Rim.

There are many people that love the movie Top Gun (I am not one of them), but I doubt many love the film for its overall plot, and that is unfortunate for us fans of sci-fi and anime, because  Pacific Rim seems borrows a great of elements from Top Gun, and in the end, it severely brain-damages the story. Much of Pacific Rim hard to sit through with these worn-out plot devices. There are way too many of these recycled and stale plot devices used with actors who cannot carry the material nor add any gravity to the scenes. Tom Cruise was able to take the honestly stupid Top Gun material and own it like a boss. Here, the cast is owned by the material and weighted down by it. The whole "death brother" and "childhood trauma" story is lame and unconvincing, the pilot selection scene is forced, illogically, and slows down the central story to snail's pace.
Why the fuck does a pilot of a mech need to stick fighting?! Never read that in any Battletech book! Not to mention, that the film attempts to build up to events with gimmicky and lame dramatic tension that as tense as wet pasta. Everyone knows what is going to happen, and the film just cannot accept that and needs the drama. The worse is that the story's own internal logic is not maintained throughout the film, especially during the battle in the bay of Hong Kong. Couple this with the whole "giant wall good, big armed mecha bad" plot device is too much to take. The movie shits the bed at this point...that and when the whole big bad Australian bully thing is added in. Spare me.
One of the most worse moments is when Charlie Day and Burn Gorman bickering scientists story comes into being. Lords of Kolob, neither one of them can pull these scenes off and I was sooo tired of them, and how shoehorned they were into the film. That was the other thing I couldn't believe while watching this...how all-over-the-place the story is, and it seems that war against the Kaiju is not the most important element most of time by the actions of the government, the characters, and the filmmakers. Oh, most of the names for things in this film are down right stupid. Shatterdome? Gypsy Danger? C'mon, movie! You're killing me! Oh, and they completely waste Ron Perlman...which is a crime and a sin.  

The neural bridge and the "drift". The fucking neural bridge, and all of the impact it has on the script of the film is the single ugliest element of this picture, and should have been dumped like psycho-bitch girlfriend by the director when he read the script. It does not need to be in here, and it adds too many layers to a story that doesn't or shouldn't need that element. Plus, the film's own logic with the neural bridge is played for convenience. I call bullshit on this and it just doesn't work...at all. What would be wrong with two normal crew members, like Dynamo Joe? One would be the pilot, one would be the gunner...simple, and would work better than the neural bridge.

FWS Bottom Line on PACIFIC RIM
I'm glad I finally witness this geek love letter to several core concepts of both Japanese and Western sci-fi works The mechs in this film may be the best ever seen in any live-action production and the core story is a serviceable vehicle for mechs laying down a beat-down on some Japanese monster villains. However, when the mechs and Kaiju are not fighting, the film is painful and it is completely devoid of logic. It does things purely for show, nor logic nor good storytelling. Did John Woo direct this? I hope that the sequel is better...it has to be...right? Sigh, this movie could have been so good...At the end, what Honest Trailers said is so true of Pacific Rim: "it is either the most awesome dumb movie ever made or the dumbest awesome movie ever made."

What Should PACIFIC RIM Should Have Been
Four words my friends: Dynamo Joe the movie. Seriously. Guillermo del Toro is a big sci-fi and geek and comic book nerd, and it would be hard to believe that del Toro had never run across this forgotten classic of giant space mecha. The very basic plot of Pacific Rim, is humans banning together to construct frontline giant combat mecha that are crewed by two. These mecha are the only effective weapon against mysterious monstrous aliens that seem only bent on humanity's destruction. That is the basic plot of Dynamo Joe!


  1. You got it in one! The Mecha were the best part of the film, the drift was daft, the burned out pilot was over done, the love story was trite, the mad/goofy scientists were unnecessary comic
    relief and Ron Perlman's shoes were his character's only redeeming quality....)

  2. "The Dirft was daft" Love it. The shoes of Ron Perlman have their own agent now, or so I've heard. It is such a crying shame that PACIFIC RIM wasn't better, I feel like we fans of mecha waited and then this happened. I am as disappointed by PACIFIC RIM as I was with ROBOT JOX.

  3. I believe that "how it should have ended" on YouTube pretty much skewered Pacific Rim right through the plot-hole.
    One of the few redeeming features this movie had was that it looked so pretty.
    I know a lot of people raved about this movie, but I was rather nonplussed by it.

  4. The "How it should have ended" Pacific Rim video was spot on! I also love honest trailers as well. This movie did not vex me as much as Starship Troopers, I could that Pacific Rim was similar to this girl I knew in High School...pretty, banging body, but not much going on upstairs. Pity.

  5. i would add that the film is not only devoid of logic between the mech scenes but also during them. I thought the whole "drift" business was stupid and the idea of two pilots needed for something like that, laughable. with modern computers one man can run the whole thing with the computer monitoring the systems and only warning him of them when they do something wrong. that is how single seat jet fighters operate. also with the motion capture suits the drivers wear the existence of any mind based interface is not needed at all.

    then the question of: why mechs? if one is fighting an underwater menace why not use some sort of submarine, or tracked vehicle of rather large proportions crawling along the sea bed (like concepts for underwater mining operations)? or why not fire a barrage of missiles at the beasts when they breach the surface. the monsters had no ranged defensive capability so giving them a few hundred hellfires (helicopter launched fire and forget, some people choose awesome acronyms) from a specially modified extra large helicopter/drone/c130 would make sense, a means of attacking them from the metaphorical high ground where you can kill them without receiving any damage yourself.

    another nasty thing in the film was how the "sword" just appeared when it was convenient, then again if you have chosen to use mechs as your defensive method you probably don't think of getting the sword out any earlier.

    the vfx was great and the monsters quite an interesting menace, especially when you realise they are the frontline for a more advanced alien race, you rather want to see the "exterminators" and then the "new tenants".

    the other main thing that pissed me off was the hero surviving, films seem to have forgotten that sometimes the hero can die at the end ("von ryans express" is a painful to watch example of this) and in circumstances like these he didn't stand a chance.

  6. I love how the Gypsy Danger survives the nuclear blast at danger close range. I kind of think that the sword was in the upgraded Gypsy Danger...but it is not excuse for the lazy writing. The concept of the mechs was also lazy and was only placed in the film for the coolness aspect, and mecha porn sells tickets, logic doesn't seem to.