Pacific Rim

Caffeinated Clint

Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

Much like the toy section at a Myer or Bloomingdales, Guillermo del Toro’s ”Pacific Rim” has the same old stuff, it’s just presented nicely.

And not that there’s anything wrong with pretty, pretty can keep one entertained for a good while – I know, I’ve been known to just sit and stare at my Julianne Hough windows slideshow for hours on end. And for about 90 minutes of “Pacific Rim” (run time 131 minutes), you don’t much mind the browse through its futuristic Art Deco gallery.

‘Did that dude just say ‘del Toro’s latest is essentially just a dawdle through an art gallery!?’. Blasphemy!”

Yeah, he did. And it is.

The question most will be asking themselves throughout “Pacific Rim” is the same one y’all were asking yourselves through the chronic, car-dealer commercials known as the “Transformers” trilogy (about to become a quadrilogy with the release of next year’s s ‘oh, f*ck me” fourth instalment) : “When does the giant-robot boxing match finish and when do we get to get to the real good, solid stuff?”

Without Megan Fox’s ass to fall back on, that ‘good, solid stuff’ will be harder to spot in “Pacific Rim”.

When you’re two-hours into a movie, and most of it’s been a Transformer battling a Godzilla-like creature on water, it’s pretty clear substance is off shagging your girlfriend, while style keeps guard.

“Pacific Rim” isn’t “Transformers” – it’s only part “Transformers”; it’s also 1998’s “Godzilla” (run Ferris run!), the ’80s anime classic “Voltron”, and Jerry Bruckehimer’s ode to Reagan-era bromance “Top Gun”.

Humongous creatures known as Kaiju have risen from the sea, resulting in a seemingly never-ending war and a mass of human lives lost. In an effort to combat the giant monsters, massive robots called Jaegers are created, which are controlled concurrently by two human pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even these Jaeger’s soon prove defenceless against the Kaiju. On the cusp of world obliteration, the forces decide they’ve no choice but to give washed-up ex-pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and untested, emotionally-unstable trainee Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) the keys to a seemingly superseded, anolog-driven Jaeger from yesteryear, because both they and it might the ‘right stuff’ to defeat the sea creatures.

As a special and visual effects showcase, it’s amazing!
As an emotionally gripping rollercoaster ride with characters you care about and situations you’re engrossed in? it’s TMZ’s regular Monday meet about Lindsay Lohan’s weekend.

I don’t dislike “Pacific Rim”, I like it fine, but is it the movie most of us were expecting, especially considering some of the fine, out-of-left-field Guillermo del Toro efforts of earlier days? No, it’s not. This is the ‘studio accountant’s version of a Del Toro movie’ – 20% original vision, 80% ‘didn’t we see that last Summer?’.

The film’s spiffy sponge drips in special effectsy goodness, it really does. From those enormous futuristic robots to the mutant beasts of the sea, and predominantly, their visually-enriched fight sequences, “Pacific Rim” offers up a nice, juicy four course meal for the eyes. The effects troops have really outdone themselves here, crafting some of the finest of the unreal. And for a lot, that will be enough to get the thumbs up and a vox-pop credit on the way out of the theatre.

With the special effects playing first fiddle, it’s understandable that the hired humans won’t have as much to do in a thing like this, but surely someone could’ve at least given the actors some dialogue and motivation that didn’t resemble something Commandant Lassard might speak of at the ‘Police Academy’ podium!? (Speaking of Pacific Rim.. ahem). With the horrible dialogue and clichéd plotting, poor Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba come off looking like left-over’s from cheesy old flyboy movies – Hunnam, an Adrian Pasdar or John Stockwell from “Top Gun”, and Elba seemingly reprising Lou Gossett Jr’s ‘Chappy’ from the “Iron Eagle” films. And let’s not get started on the egg-faced actors (Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky) forced to don shocking Aussie accents in their guise as rough n’ tough downunder heroes. Better, and likely because they insisted on riffing and ‘doing their own thing’, are secondary players Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”) and Burn Gorman (“Torchwood”) as the film’s wisecracking scientist duo, and del Toro regular Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”) as a scenery-chewing mobster type.

The biggest injustice del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham have laden “Pacific Rim” with it that, besides the central war not being that engaging, you just don’t care about their characters; when your heroes take on a couple of monster beasts, you really should be rooting for them to survive not getting munched up, if only so you can see those grand special effects at work again.

Like spending time under the sheets with a shy date, “Pacific Rim” plays out like a game of compromise. While you can definitely see the studio’s “tick all the boxes please” input, you can also see del Toro’s slightly more imaginative, almost refreshing contribution – for a smidge, anyway.

There’s fun, and then there’s fun with substance – buy Christopher Nolan’s imminent biography to learn of how the two can be combined successfully to create the ultimate summer blockbuster movie experience.

In its current form, “Pacific Rim” plays like a backyard brothel that’s speciality is pleasing teenagers who, despite having gone there before, feel they still haven’t got their fix. And with its ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ attitude, it’s those 15-year-old boys who’ll likely be the only ones who walk away truly satisfied from the “Rim” job, too.

Blu-ray : While not a huge fan of the film itself, I will admit to just how marvelously good-looking a film it is – and it’s attractiveness is in full-display on the disc. In addition to the excellent audio and video transfer, there’s a great commentary by del Toro, numerous featurettes, and a blooper reel. Obviously, you’d want to be a fan to enjoy those.

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About Caffeinated Clint

Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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