Thursday, July 18, 2013
I've made mention about a social media platform in Philadelphia called Collaborate Philly HERE, HERE & HERE. The founder Sam Watson, graduated from film school, so I gave him an open invitation to write a post for Tinsel & Tine whenever time allowed. With the lazy days of summer upon us, Sam found himself with time to see the latest in summer apocalyptic movies - Pacific Rim...
Monsters appear. Robots smash. Success! That pretty much sums up Guillermo del Toro’s new summer flick, Pacific Rim. The movie is built on the backs of H.P. Lovecraft and almost any B-horror movie featuring giant beast knocking buildings over. We are thrown right into the premise of Pacific Rim when it opens. We are told that alien monsters, Kaiju, are entering our world through an interdimensional breach located in the Pacific Ocean. These gigantic monsters seem hell bent on destruction every time one of them shows up. The human race bands together and attacks these beasts with the usual weapons - guns, tanks, planes, missiles, but even when a Kaiju is eventually defeated, it causes way too much devastation for this tactic to actually be helpful. So, as the movie declares, “In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own.” Human built giant fighting robots called Jaegers, which are piloted by two humans, who have to meld their minds together to generate enough brain power to operate these behemoth machines (the futuristic tech is pretty cool, but there’s definitely a little too much fictional textbook science being explained throughout).
In these rock ‘em, sock ‘em robot, end of the world movies, it’s things like story and humor, which make us care about the CGI romp taking place on the screen. And it’s here where this movie falls a bit flat. The story isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. These aliens are invading our world because they’re “colonists.” They use up a planet’s resources, killing us in the process and then move on to the next world. It’s a threat that the cinematic human race faces a countless number of times - this one particular instance just doesn’t happen to take place on Independence Day. But it’s apparent that Del Toro doesn’t care about originality in plot. And why should he? It’s not his thing. He cares a lot more about the world and monsters he creates. This is why the Kaiju look great. There’s this texture to their skin that works well on screen and makes them feel authentic. Some of them do wear a sort of goofy expression on their faces, but there are plenty that look down right terrifying.
So what about the quirks of a world at war with Kaijus? Well, the movie disappoints here too. A Kaiju black market has formed, where all parts of these monsters are sold. It’s a great concept for Del Toro to play with, and some cool visuals do pop up in the form of Kaiju-decorated buildings. Hannibal Chau, played by a Del Toro favorite, Ron Pearlman, is the man in charge of this seedy underworld. Unfortunately, the character isn’t all that great. From his red suit to his gold-plated shoes, Hannibal is certainly dressed like an interesting fellow, but he’s lacking, and you can barely understand a word out of him, the performance seems forced.
The same goes for the two comic relief scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. This is a problem that happens more than once in Pacific Rim. Our two main characters, Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori played respectively by Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, do their jobs without being particularly memorable. We aren’t even sure if we’re supposed to view them as a potential romantic item or just teammates. Still, they’re able to kick ass both with their own fists and robot fists - and isn’t that all we really need?
On a high note - The monster fights hold some fun surprises. For example, Raleigh and Mako’s Jaeger use an ocean liner to beat down a rather nasty Kaiju, and the sight of the robot bringing an ocean liner to a monster fight brings out the 12-year-old in all of us. There is even something that all of those who are tired of seeing entire cities get destroyed in these apocalyptic movies can appreciate. There is destruction in Pacific Rim, of course. But the devastation to cities during the fight sequences is relativity restrained. There’s one pivotal brawl in the middle of a major city, and by the end of it, the skyline still stands, and you don’t get that feeling that millions of people were just wiped out. Yet, the fight was still fun to watch. Man of Steel and future films of the same ilk might want to take note. In the end, Pacific Rim is a good punch ‘em up that fails at times to be original and funny. But it promises to mind-meld with the kid in all of us, because, hey, there’s rocket-powered elbows, robot swords and plasma cannons and stuff!
Sam Watson is a Philadelphia screenwriter, videographer, freelance journalist and founder of Collaborate Philly. This is an organization, which is focused on uniting the Philly creative scene through social media, events and informative content. Sam is also the co-founder of Philly Beergasm, a charity event, which showcases the Philly brewing and culinary scene.
LAMB Score: 3 out of 5
Philly Film Blog