Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Written by Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro. Starring Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori).
Bottom line: 1 star for pretty graphics and 1 star for achieving what it set out to do (that is, to be a bad movie with pretty graphics).
Normally, I spend a paragraph or so outlining the plot of a movie but in the case of Pacific Rim, a sentence will suffice: the world (with America at the helm) makes giant robots to fend off aliens from another dimension.
I have said this before but I’ll say it again: I will not be stirred by pretty graphics. For me to be a fan of a movie, it had better use some of its $200 million dollar budget on something other than CGI. Pacific Rim did not. I will admit that the graphics are really pretty and the camera work is such that you can parse what is going on. But, if I may speak frankly, it frustrates me that this movie is meeting with so much success. What am I missing?
I hear from fan-boys, that Pacific Rim harkens back to Godzilla movies. I get it that this is supposed to be a silly movie about giant robots, aliens, and pretty graphics but let’s not lose perspective, people. This is a bad movie. The dialog and plot are nonexistent. The patriotism in the movie hits you over the head. If I were going to turn this into a drinking game, I’d take a shot for every shot that makes you say ‘Yeah, go ’Amurica!” Warning, you might die from alcohol poisoning.
The movie gets so preposterous at times that it is funny. For example, I imagine the planning meeting when building one of the giant robots going like this:
“Guys, alright, we have a nuclear reactor powering this robot and a switch to turn it into a nuclear bomb. (Reactors and bombs are essentially the same, right?) We have a plasma gun arm. We have a jet engine in the elbow to make a ‘rocket punch’. What else to we need?”
“A giant sword.”
“Yes! You never know when the robot might need that!”
On some level, this movie depresses me. It is a mindless kaleidoscope of CGI but for what ends? Is this just a distraction from our miserable lives? What are we missing that Pacific Rim provides? Perhaps it is that we feel the need for escape. Maybe the social, political, and economic realities we face are too depressing, so we need a generic, positive, flashy escape.
I wonder if we can read Pacific Rim from an environmental position. Let’s say the aliens represent pollution and fossil fuels. The kaiju (aliens) resemble dinosaurs and they come from beneath the ocean floor (like oil) and threaten Mankind. Their blue, oily blood is a corrosive waste let in their path. We need the assistance of nuclear energy to defeat the monsters. Granted, the hero denotes the nuclear reactor to destroy the aliens. That’s not how reactors work; you can’t just flip a switch and make another Hiroshima. So this type of solution might make you think nuclear energy is a fearful thing but it does rescue the world. It is indeed the reactor, not the bomb, which saves humanity.
I do appreciate a silly action movie that isn’t trying to be anything but a silly action movie. But just because a movie is good at being mediocre isn’t reason to give it anything higher than a mediocre score. If Pacific Rim was a food it would be really bad junk food. Substitute whatever floats your boat: a double Baconator from Wendy’s or a XXL Grilled Stuff Burrito from Taco Bell or a vat of nacho cheese or whatever. If you are going to go see this, don’t. Don’t go see this please, maybe if enough people abstain better movies will come out next year. Though, we may be a bit late. To extend the food analogy, you know how when you are eating tasty junk food you say “Oh man, this is so bad but so good!” Pacific Rim is kinda like that...but without the good.