Saturday, December 14, 2013
Short Cut Movie Review: Pacific Rim
A Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.
I’m really having a tough time figuring out if Guillermo del Toro’s wild, CGI-packed, global-minded mindless summer action flick Pacific Rim is a serious movie that is as badly written as the worst of the Transformers films or a half-clever (and only half, really) satire and sort of send up of big, dumb, and loud Hollywood action films. The fact that it’s not entirely obvious is a sign of either a brilliant scheme to attract both fanboys and cinema enthusiasts alike or a complete failure to signal exactly what it’s trying to do.
Given del Toro’s record as a filmmaker, I’d like to think he’s up to something interesting here, but even if he is, I didn’t really enjoy most of the film. Written by del Toro and Travis Beacham, Pacific Rim is an amalgam of so many different films of recent Hollywood history that it’s hard to keep track of the references. It combines elements of Transformers, Alien, Top Gun, Star Wars, Starship Troopers, Godzilla, and countless old WWII films. The sum of all these disparate parts suggest a comment on the direction of summer tent pole action cinema as nothing more than further extensions of what has come before without regard for originality, even if Pacific Rim is ostensibly an “original” screenplay, it remains a largely derivative work.
The time is the near future and earth is under regular attack by alien creatures called Kaiju entering from another dimension at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The creatures take the form of enormous dinosaur-looking creatures that have caused the world to band together and pool resources to construct giant robots to battle them. The robots, known as Jaegers, are so complex they require dual pilots who pass through “neural drift” (really like a longer version of the Vulcan mind-meld) and work in synchronicity. One of these crack pilots if Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam). Idris Elba plays his superior officer and leader of the Jaeger program. There are a couple of mad scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) with crazy theories and even crazier behavior. Rinko Kikuchi plays a budding Jaeger pilot with a traumatic history.
The dialogue is so over-the-top bad and the behaviors of every character so clichéd and hackneyed that I ultimately have to believe it was done intentionally. Still, apart from some pretty well-choreographed fights involving gigantic CGI creatures, there was little I found thoroughly enjoyable. Except the scenes with Ron Perlman (a del Toro regular) as a Hong Kong black market dealer in Kaiju body parts. He’s fantastic and his dialogue was actually well-written and delivered.