Solid hit of a summer block-(literally)-busting movie. Del Toro knocked it out of the park on this one. Took the genre' to an entire new level, even as it revisits a lot of the tropes associated with these kinds of films.
You can't think of too many directors who would "respect the material" in the game of kaiju movies like Del Toro, and this is why his monsters I think feel so real and alive. He's taking a silly idea dead-serious.
The flashback to the little girl's terror was viscerally compelling to me, as a dad, watching this little girl who looked a lot like my own daughter, terrorized by the monster. The film I think has a good balance of the small scale moments, contrasted against the macro-scale ones. Too much of either would have been less powerful.
While the film has light-hearted moments, it generally takes itself totally seriously, in the good way that has plot points evolve from the set premise, and not breaking it's own rules, once set down.
That said, it isn't Shakespeare, of course, but it's a rollicking good time, a sensory overload of detail and color, all moving almost too fast to follow. I thought the colors, if anything got more and more lavish and vivid as the film progressed, especially in the final land battle. The level of detailing in the damage and debris is mind-boggling. The art direction very much has the flavor of Del Toro designing a video game, and the complexity of the giant mecha's is overpowering at times.
The acting and dialogue is a little on the wooden side, all-around, I wasn't even impressed that much by Idris Elba. But Charlie Day did all right, as did the guy playing his side-kick.
I would say this movie is worth the extra money for the 3-d or imax experience, but go see it any way you can.
Mark, I think its safe to say that it has never felt more logical for us to keep living in Illinois than it does in Pacific Rim's scenario.
-The action in this movie is unlike anything I've ever seen before, so much so that, on a visual and special effects level, its strengths almost override the bad parts. I know it's kind of terrible to say, to blatantly look over the cliché narrative and various plot holes, but it kind of works here.
-And everything was done on such a large-scale, del Toro really gave a spectacular sense of size to the monsters and the robots. It was really frightening seeing these things emerge, especially when the camera was positioned at a street level. It really puts you in the moment. My jaw was often dropped, as they say.
-I also loved the color usage. I can't think of a movie this year with a better color palette. Or at least one that worked so well with the material. This is in stark contract to say, The Lone Ranger, which had a dull gray tone layered over the entire film; as if the editor just did a *SELECT ALL* in the timeline, and pasted in the same boring color filter on every clip. I mean, even the Disney logo graphic before the movie were tinted gray. Note to filmmakers: We, the audience, don't mind looking at colorful movies. In fact we kind of enjoy it. You don't usually hear people enthusiastically beaming about a film's complete LACK of interesting colors. "I really loved how Armie Hammer's skin looked as dull and lifeless as the dirt surrounding him in every scene! Magnifique!"
-I think I should point out again how awesome it was to see giant robots fighting giant monsters in the most visually successful way possible.
-I even liked it when they scaled back the action in the huge battles to show what the humans were doing inside the robots. It never took away from the battles, and often times created even much more tension than if they were just drones or something.
-The side story to visit Ron Perlman added a whole different layer of depth to the film. It showed the reactionary state of the world (if just in a sliver) to the monster attacks, such as Perlman's case of selling all of the dead monster parts on the black market. I would have liked to see more little detail touches like this, but it was already a movie filled with a ton of stuff.
-The final action scene of Pacific Rim > the Boston Market microwaveable meatloaf dinner I just ate > the final action scene of Man of Steel.
-It was cool how this wasn't just a movie about America being awesome, but the whole world contributing. Other countries can build big robots, too!
-I saw it in IMAX 3D, and as usual, the 3D is barely noticeable by the end of the movie. But it is worth the $16 tickets just to go deaf for a few hours from the amazing IMAX speakers. The movie has awesome sound design in general, and this was one of the best IMAX sound experiences I've ever had. Also, big screen + big monsters = no brainer.
-The acting was alright overall, but not good by any means. The standout to me, probably out of bias for my love of Always Sunny, was Charlie Day. On last night's Conan, Charlie said he was basically just channeling Rick Moranis. If we can't have the actual Rick Moranis in our movies, I don't mind if we have a people acting like him, especially if they're as enthusiastic as Charlie Day.
-Wasn't a big fan of all the neural link stuff. Exploring it as deeply as they did really put it in the front of the film as one of the major themes, but it still felt so thrown together that it came across, to me, as filler. I guess it seemed a little inexplicably easy to pull off. And people get can lost in the memories? Even their own memories? I also really liked the scene where child-version Mako is getting chased by a giant crab monster in the snowy streets of Japan, but it seemed to only exist in the film because of the dumb neural link plot device. I guess I'm saying, it's as if del Toro really wanted to put a scene like that in the film, but had no better way of putting it in. And then, in possibly the worst case of dumb neural link logic, the humans actually wire in and "drift" with the monsters themselves. And the end result was a lot of fast imagery followed by "Now I know the answer to everything!" Plugging into the dead monster's brain was on the level of Jeff Goldblum clacking away on his laptop in Independence Day saying "OK, I've just infected the mothership with a computer virus."
-Charlie Hunnam has the look of a summer movie star, but he didn't come across to me as anything more than another Sam Worthington. Picture Sam Worthington in the lead role of Pacific Rim. Right now. Do it! See, he fits in perfectly. Now picture Charlie Hunnam in Clash of the Titans. It basically wouldn't change the movie. Not a good sign for either guy.
-IDRIS ELBA CLICHE MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH BEFORE THE BIG FIGHT ABOUT CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE THAT WE ALREADY BASICALLY SAW IN THE COMMERCIALS. YEAH, STRINGER BELL, WOO! His character's name is General Stacker Pentecost, by the way... "And the nominees for Dumbest Name in an Action Movie are... Stacker Pentecost from Pacific Rim... (audience applause) Cypher Raige from After Earth... (audience applause)"
-Might have helped to make the robots capable of flight and dropping bombs from above or something, but that's just me. This seems like the perfect situation where laser guns would have been awesome. Instead, we have robots that have "rocket elbow" abilities, that increase the power of a punch? I think the robots should have been equipped with a bunch of long-range weaponry first befo- ehhhhhh who cares? ROCKET ELBOW! SMASH! (theater seat starts shaking, nose starts bleeding, goes deaf in right ear)
-To get back to the neural link crap, the scene where the lead characters have a 10 minute stick fight in a gym to find out who is "drift compatible" is a big reason why the movie was over two hours long.
-The robots all have stupid names.
Final Thoughts: The visuals outweigh the actual story, but they outweigh them so much that it's worth seeing just for the visuals. I don't think it's going to play as well on my TV on Blu-ray in a few months as it did on the IMAX screen, so I'd encourage anyone who is interested in this film at all to just go to the theater while you can and see it in the best way possible. What have you got going on over the weekends that's so great, anyway? Go see a movie! :)
8 out of 10
Why are the mechas named after hipster indie bands?
Scott, the Mako childhood scene was very important, not just for back-story, but that kind of scene is one of the tropes of the genre' since Honda's original Godzilla, so it had to be covered. Del Toro's take feels truly personal , emotional,and terrifying, and it sets so much unspoken subtext for what the girl's character becomes, as well as representing frail humans incapable of fighting back against the giant Jungian archetype.
You see at least three times in the film, in metaphorical ways, various characters all fighting to get beyond traumatic memories and experiences, to reach a goal or apotheosis, and you see societies/mankind on the macro scale, reacting to the monster threat first by fighting, then retreating behind walls, which turns out to be unsuccessful, so mankind has to try other strategies.
The monsters are all stand-ins for any disaster or trauma mankind and nations fear. Do we learn to live with the new threat, even live under the skeletons of the dead monsters, consuming them to gain power... or do we hide behind busy work and hope the big bad visits someone else tonight? The movie has more levels of depth than the script initially might hint at.
What would I have changed? Not much. Slowed down a few fight scenes. My ending would be the revelation that the kaiju are not invaders... but refugees, fleeing something even bigger and badder... and leading it home to US.
There's your sequel. Where's my check?
I didn't think I'd agree with anyone about most of Pacific Rim, but we must be drifting Scott. Hey I referenced the movie, look at me.
I agree with almost all of your pros, most notably that a microwave dinner was more compelling than Man of Steel's stupid fighting. I guess Pacific Rim was better than a microwave dinner...unless the dinner had that little square of brownie...then I'll have to think about it.
I also agree that IMAX is the best way to see this if you're into watching robots destroy cities. I'm not so much into that, but I can see the appeal I guess.
My issue with this film is that it could have easily been so much better with relatively minor changes. Keep the overall story. Ditch Mako's stupid side story for the most part, make her way less of a victim. Ditch all the stupid action movie cliches, like the Aussie douchebag and the wacky scientists. RE-WRITE EVERYONE'S DIALOGUE. Basically make it so I'm not mentally 2 beats ahead of the film, knowing exactly what's happening next with absolutely no surprise. Because I really expect more from GDT. I don't expect him to fall back onto tropes because that's what the audience expects. You can make a damn action movie with giant ass monsters, and you can make it not stupid but not too intellectual FFS. Don't make people say stupid things and I'm already back in your corner.
Also a lot of the action was pretty boring. Oh no, a city got wrecked and my butt is numb.
This year's theater experiences have been pretty much balls. Is it Oscar season yet?
Agreed the dialogue was weak.
Strongly DIS-agree on cutting Mako's back-story. Maybe it's because I have an Asian daughter who once looked very like that little girl, but that scene was ripping at my heart; the actress, Mana Ashida, playing Young Mako, was abso-freaking-perfect. It was that scene that almost got me out of my chair and made me feel for one of the characters, and it reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth.
As far as the stick-fighting scene, it's put there to show that mako is a competent fighter, but as one who studied our hero's career closely, has also developed an intuition and anticipation of his moves. It is laid out that you need that in a fighting partner for compatibility. When she can easily match his every move, like a dancer, that shows him she's compatible.
As far as rocket weapons, it is established very early-on in the opening narrative that blowing up the kaiju, scattering their blood everywhere, creates wide-spread contamination, so this is how the story requires physical punching instead of missile attacks and of course, using even small nukes. They set up the rules of the story universe to explain why fighting robots are needed. That said, in terms of physics, the giant monsters would be too heavy to support their own weight or breathe, and the mechs or "jagers" could not move even half as fast as they do, nor be as strong or nimble... plus, they'd be putting out incredible amounts of blazing heat the whole time.
I don't know why I'm compelled to be an apologist for the film: it is a good summer action flick, very entertaining, though it isn't Shakespeare. It's got simple messages, told in an exciting manner. It doesn't deserve to be mocked: it delivers exactly what it says it will; Giant freaking robots kicking giant monster ass. And its beautiful.
I definitely wouldn't want to cut the Mako childhood scene, I actually thought that it was great, and one of the more memorable scenes in the entire film. Very well shot, very scary, very loud. My point was that the means of the scene coming into our story was by the dumb neural link thing. Like the only way we could have experienced that moment was to literally explore Mako's memory via SCIENCE!
I guess that was my issue with everything that I didn't like about the movie (and for the record again, I LIKED the movie), all of the flaws resulted from good ideas brought forth in lackluster ways. The pieces are there, but they aren't connected in the best way. But the pieces totally kick ass.
But also like Kylee and you said, the dialogue left a little something to be desired.
Also, fun fact I read today... Idris Elba watched Braveheart as research for giving his big speech in this movie. IT KIND OF SHOWS.
Elba's locker-room speech was trying for a Henry V/ band of brothers/ St. Crispin's day feel, but I thought it was hammy. The little girl playing young Mako did the best acting in the whole movie, IMO. WE could have seen the flashback in other ways, agreed, but this was used the same way Maverick's flash-backs to losing Goose were used in "Top Gun", and Gant's PTSD episodes in "Firefox". There's precedent.
The tech is something you have to give up to willing suspension of disbelief.
First 5 minutes was what a SciFi action movie should look like
Also the opening exposition saved us an hour of movie spent on setup
Thankfully the Kaiju stayed close to the Pacific ocean so we were spared yet another movie with a long destruction of NY sequence
I wonder how big of a fight Del Toro had about the obvious sex scene before the big battle that would have been in any other movie.
Overall I loved this.
Agree Imax was good but 3D not really noticeable
Thankfully the Kaiju stayed close to the Pacific ocean so we were spared yet another movie with a long destruction of NY sequence
I thought the director said in an interview that it felt like every monster had a map to NYC so he wanted the movie to take place somewhere else.
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Loved the score. Totally epic and majestic especially during the opening montage revealing Gipsy Danger.
Now thinking realistically (they DO establish that the Kaiju arrived in 2013 while Obama was President) so this takes place in the real world.
Nations coming together pooling resources? Even to fight monsters? Not likely. Chances are China and Russia would save the day while the US and EU argued over the resulting debt situation that would result. The US Congress would not even vote as half of them would deny the existence of monsters.
The drift tech is at least 100 years away. Human technology is just not that far along. However neural control of machines is here now so some of that could work just without the memory sharing.
And why is it that in movie memories we see it like it was filmed for the screen? You would see it as a POV from the person whose memory it is. I understand that is not as interesting to watch but Mako's memory actually had a crane shot.
Those robots have to weigh 100 tons. It would take more than 8 choppers to lift one.
The scientists were funny. The British guy is a Torchwood graduate but most Americans know him as that guy who is starting to show up in the background of movies.
At the end when JJ Abrams drifts with the Kaiju baby how would the baby know anything about the portal or did it have its mother's memories?
Ron Perlman is cool in everything he does and was good comic relief.
Is there any info on the Western Hemisphere? Presumably thing were pretty rosy in NY and Paris.
Why exactly do the robots need a head? Couldn't the pilots be embedded in a stronger less vulnerable compartment deeper inside the body? I understand the presence of the large engine in the middle. I suppose we build machines in our own image.
Fun stuff. I'll see this one again.