Pacific Rim: Quick Brain Dump

I just saw Pacific Rim.

I will now commence neural bridge with you.

We have drift.

(warning: mild spoilers detected)

• This is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long, long time.

• It made me want to go play with toys. Big smash-em-up anime robots and giant monsters.

• The movie understands what it wants to be and never deviates from that. That said, it never precisely surpasses it, either. We are left with a model robots versus monsters film, though perhaps not exactly a transcendent one, either.

• This is not a big dumb action movie. It’s smarter and savvier than you think. Also: no gaping plotholes! It didn’t feel rushed or half-baked (unlike nearly all Hollywood tentpole releases these days). Del Toro knows his stuff here.

• The action is top-of-the-pops. Generally clear; not shaky. Heartpounding stuff. Some sequences could’ve used a better sense of danger and consequence but for the most part: aces.

• A lot of the action is also repeated in the movie trailers. Like, the scene with the “Boatsball Bat?” (i.e. whack kaiju in the face with a giant ship)? Yeah, that would’ve played so much more bad-ass if I hadn’t seen it in like, three of the 17 trailers for the movie. As it stood, most of the really cool action beats are robbed of their fist-pumping woo-hoo-ery by their repetition in all the commercials and trailers.

• Thankfully, the action isn’t necessarily what carries the movie. It’s awesome. It’s important. But trust me when I say you’re not just waiting impatiently for the next action sequence to commence — there’s some compelling character drama stuff and worldbuilding going on in the middle. Never drags.

• Okay, fine, Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh character is a bit generic. I really wanted him to whoop it up — I mean, if you’re gonna write in the classic “unpredictable hero who wins the day unpredictably,” then you should really strive to write him as a loose, popping wire. Han Solo is a guy that could swing either way — and further, he appears to be having fun in the story (and the actor in the role). That’s not really true here.

• But it doesn’t matter because the real bad-ass is Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori character. So awesome. Actually, there’s a flashback scene of her as a little girl in the midst of some bad shit going down, and that little girl actress needs to win a big bucket of Oscars, stat. Those scenes are the best in the movie. Emotionally affecting, exciting, scary, and at the end, triumphant. The kind of scene a Hollywood executive might dismiss as a drag on the film but that really, really anchors the character and the story.

• Idris Elba, of course, is rad as fuck.

• Although, Idris Elba is given one speech (again seen in trailers) that is so bland and so library paste it feels like you could’ve copy/pasted it from a hundred other cheesy action movies. “WE ARE MANKIND AND WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS” is a pretty boring thrust. Any writer worth his salt could’ve put some better rah-rah-rah blood-pumping speechifying in his mouth.

• The monsters are a little samey-samey by the end. Like, a few really stand-out, but part of the problem is, monsters have no actual persona. They’re intelligent, but they’re not characters. To anchor an otherworldly, unknowable enemy like that you need to find some kind of human evil. That’s why in zombie stories you tend to have some sinister human component to actually bring drama — otherwise, the enemy is basically the equivalent of a hurricane or a earthquake. A little of that in this film (opposing government? it’s set up in the beginning but never goes anywhere) would’ve gone a long way. Human evil is more interesting than alien agendas.

• Oh, and can I just say: Charlie Day and Ron Perlman, everybody. *round of applause that goes on long enough to be uncomfortable*

• This is the rare action movie where I could’ve used another half-hour added to it.

• The climactic showdown / end game is honestly a little too easy, too pat.

• Despite that, I was still thrilled by it, so. Yeah.

Anyway. There we go.

It’s epic fun.

You should see it.

And tell your friends to see it.

And then go see it again.

Because we need to support films that aren’t reboots or rehashes or sequels or prequels.