Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pacific Rim Reviewed

As a kid, Robotech was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. The idea that a gifted young pilot could get behind the controls of a giant, transforming robot to defend the earth from aliens was mind blowing. Later, there would be Transformers and Voltron, so you could say giant robots were always a part of my youth. Pair that with a father who owned a hefty collection of Godzilla movies on VHS and a more awesome time in our history when you could turn on channel 11 on a Saturday afternoon and watch the big lizard stomp a mud hole in a muck monster, and you've got the perfect eyes for a little movie called Pacific Rim.With a film this epic in scope, it would be very easy to get lost in endless explosions (coughmanofsteelcough), needless ever expansion of the plot solely for the sake of future sequels or just plain bad acting across the board. Luckily, this film was in the hands of a true fan from day one. Our friend Creepy from Dread Central put it best when he called me up right after his screening and just repeated, over and over..."IT'S ALL THERE, PAUL! UP ON THE SCREEN!! IT WAS ALL THERE!!"

The story is a quick one. Gargantuan monsters begin to slither from a crack between dimensions deep in the Pacific Rim. At first, our world's military might is enough to bring down each beast, but after a time, those creatures emerging are clearly more powerful that the ones before. A new weapon is needed, and so the Jaeger program is initiated. 2 human pilots with a strong bond share the mental strain of controlling a building-sized robot armed to the teeth and ready to take on any monstrosity. Now these creatures seem to be growing even more powerful...and show deadly, direct intent. If the human race has any hope of survival, they must back up mega-robo-might with advanced scientific intellect to discover why the monsters have come...and how to stop them once and for all.

It would have been easy for a film like Pacific Rim to play it safe and hearken to past uber-American summer blockbusters like Armageddon and Independence Day with highly likable, quirky characters spitting one liners before every punch. Thankfully, they chose to make an awesome film instead. Don't get me wrong, I love those movies, but they always feel like guilty pleasures. It's good to want more. I'll go one step further and acknowledge that the creators of Pacific Rim did their homework on what had made YEARS of giant robot Anime successful and put it all on the screen. You'll find the devoted techy with slicked back hair and a close personal bond to his pilots. The hardened old soldier with the super manly pet mascot. The head of operations with a tragic secret and a loved one who may be the key to the planet's survival, despite the urge to keep them safe at all costs. The wacky scientists who seem to fight each other more than they focus to fight the common enemy. You've got the angry young pilot who challenges every authority for the sake of winning the day, the super hero haired heroine who can hold her own in a fight but whose past could reduce her to an emotional wreck...and finally, the reckless hero who stands between chaos and the human race, overcoming his own personal demons to triumph over all. Through what I can only describe as filmatic witchcraft, Pacific Rim takes all these characters and throws them at the audience, one after another, with great passion, a driving soundtrack and no shortage of atmosphere and makes you love each and every one of them. I'm not going to go into individual actor's performances because, quite frankly, it seems their key role was to EMOTE, and emote they did. What Pacific Rim lacks in wordage, it more than makes up for in chemistry and immersive content. Even the untimely demise of background characters we only saw briefly, and most often munching in the mess hall, pulled a groan of sadness from a pumped up New York City crowd. THIS is absolutely the key to an instant summer blockbuster. FEELING. Blow up whatever you like..kidnap the president...hold a gun to the Taco Bell dog's doesn't matter. You make me love a band of people fighting for survival and you've overcome the biggest obstacle before you. The rest is just icing. Happily, that icing is MASSIVE, GNARLING, GNASHING, DROOLING MONSTERS WHO CAN BITE A CITY BLOCK IN HALF!!!

If one were to watch the Transformers films, you would be led to believe it is impossible to film titanic throwdowns without getting in close and, by default, lose focus...often. I can't count how many times I watched Transformers battle and immediately couldn't tell Optimus Prime from any other robot in the scene, much less enjoy the fight. It was just a jumble of shiny boxes smacking into each other, grunting occasionally (which is pretty funny to hear from a robot). Pacific Rim presents massive battles amid city buildings where every movement sends debris raining down on the tiny humans below. No time is wasted on drama like the classic punch that makes all glass in a 2 mile radius slow motion...for a full 5 minutes. Instead, if the action pauses for a second, it is for a quick laugh or a HOLY SH!# moment that quickly shifts you back into the next colossal blow. Robots are ripped to shreds. A parade of beautifully rendered horrors, like the cast of the most awesome Godzilla bonanza, overhauled to look as real as our little computers can make them, lumber forward to destruction and meet their own radioactive green blood-soaked end in more ways than you can count. You'll feel the weight of every crashing strike. You'll shift in your seat wondering if the rampaging Kaiju will whip its tail and take off the head of the oncoming Jaeger before that Jaeger gets a firm hold and tears the jaw off the screeching monster. This is insanity. This is CGI elevated to ART. Most importantly, THIS IS THE BEST MONSTER ACTION YOU WILL EVER SEE!!

Leaving the theater, I ran into a friend with his small child. I was told the little boy read the pre-quel graphic novel and has been looking forward to the film ever since. For those wondering if it is OK to take your kids to a PG13 monster fest, my answer is simple. Can you handle your child hyper beyond belief as the credits roll, jumping about, kicking and swinging at imagined creatures as he activates his robo-missiles to blow them all to hell? That, my friends, is what you are in for. This little kid was spectacular in his excitement for what he just saw, so much so, I jokingly asked if I could video him and would just post his lobby battle as my review. I challenge you to watch Pacific Rim and not come out smiling.

Not one sex scene, needless naked soldiers showering in unisex baths or even a longing departure kiss for luck will be found in this movie. Instead, you'll find heaps of heart, scene after scene that makes LOGICAL SENSE (I know..a novel idea these days) and the one thing this summer's mega-budget blockbusters have been light on. FUN. Not forced. Not ridiculous. Not "so B movie you have to laugh" or "so over the top you couldn't believe your eyes". Just well written, well directed, well shot and well acted fun from beginning to end. Amazing. Pacific Rim is an instant cult classic and so deserving of your hard earned movie dollar, you'll feel like tipping the ticket ripper as you exit. Not only is the 3D beautiful but the IMAX 3D will be something you'll dream about as you walk to your car. After all, something that insane up on a building sized screen would ultimately be jaw dropping. Hit the theater this weekend and show Hollywood what you've been fiending to see your whole damn life. Pacific Rim deserves to be a record breaking summer blockbuster. Let's make it happen.

1 comment :

  1. I am not very fond of Sci-fi movies, but had to watch coz my hubby is crazy about these. I enjoyed the movie not because of its story but the effects which are amazing when you watch in 3D.