Make no mistake, Pacific Rim is pure popcorntainment. The plot: Robots vs. Aliens. The scale: fucking massive. In addition to the familiar scene scenarios I’ve described, much of the dialogue in this movie feels like it was penned by an excitable little boy, sitting directly in front of his television on Saturday morning, nabbing lines from his favorite cartoons. Which is, again, exactly the kind of man I think Guillermo del Toro is. And please, that is in no way meant as an insult. Del Toro has always been frank about how he chooses to explore his vision. Cinematically, he needs ghosts, ghouls, Hellboys, aliens – any fantastical element to propel his narrative. Thus far, he’s done a rather decent job (or, in the case of Pan’s Labyrinth, a masterful one).
And while I like to think I know where Pacific Rim comes from, and why, that doesn’t necessarily make the movie fully worth it.
I could nit pick. I am baffled that a $190 million dollar movie (more if you include the millions for marketing) with amazing special effects, doesn’t take the time to let the wind created by a landing helicopter move an umbrella being held by a young woman on the landing deck. Or how, on more than three occasions, I noticed how completely unsynchronized dialogue audio was from the speaker’s mouth. I could keep going, but what’s the point? The targeted demographic for Pacific Rim are people who like to see bombastic action porn. If it’s a little smart, that’s a plus. And in that regard, I feel their needs will be well met.
This isn’t a bash. I actually enjoyed a lot of Pacific Rim. I enjoyed its very focused narrative (the bulk of the film takes place over a quick 24 hours). I enjoyed its action sequences (despite their utter lack of master shots, and aversion to day-time battle), and I enjoyed how much of the cast seemed to be in on the tone. (Sorry, one shortcoming: star Charlie Hunnam has a God-awful American accent in this movie, and I must ask, why have him play an American at all? Why not let him keep his native English voice, thereby relieving the audience of chuckles everytime his character says a word with a vowel in it?)
For fans of giant, action, sci-fi romps, there’s a lot to like in Pacific Rim. For others, well, there’s a lot that may have you checking your watch, repeatedly. I respect and admire the talent and vision of Guillermo del Toro. I have since his debut feature, the Mexican vampire film Cronos. If he’s going to make a movie, I’m going to see it, and I’m certainly going to enjoy at least some of it. Now that he has Pacific Rim out of his system, I’d love to see del Toro scale back and make something smaller, wholly original. That’s certainly not something you’d hear me complain about. C+