Ah, yeah, Guillermo Del Toro. To me, his name was always connected to Pan's Labyrinth, being the first Del Toro-movie i ever watched and which was indeed pretty impressive. It was later then when i realised that he also caused Hellboy and other things that would seem unlikely at first but – whatever; this guy got my interest after all and thus it was just a matter of fact that my ears would go all alert when there was news about Pacific Rim. (but before i start the babbling: why even talk about that at all? Well, because i simply love movies. And cinema. And i just watched it. And because i enjoy sharing thoughts. Duh.)
So, what's the story.
Somewhen in the near future giant alien creatures emerge from a breach within the depths of the pacific and overrun the coasts. Thus, humanity adapts to the new danger and creates giant robots called Jäger, driven by two humane pilots to fight these critters. The story is introduced by ex-pilot Raleigh Becket off screen and even though the audience gets a whole bunch of background and information within the first five minutes there still is yet enough to come...
What really caught my interest for Pacific Rim in particular was not the director's name but that one certain similarity that everyone else seems to bring up and i won't lie that i just thought the exact same as soon as i saw the trailer for the first time:
„Da Fuaq. Is this supposed to be Neon Genesis Evangelion in American Hollywood Style or what."
Now, being a great admirer of NGE my feelings about this were of course kind of so-so. At the end, it was clear that i would have to watch it myself to get a final opinion of it.
And at first glance the comparisons actually seem indeed significant and justified. Yes, we have giant alien monsters who attack mankind (here, they are called Kaijūs instead of Angels and unlike the abstract, often unexpected appearances of the NGE creatures the Pacific Rim-critters just appear as „classic monsters"). Yes, we have giant robots/mechas to fight these alien monsters. Yes, these mechas are neurologically linked and driven from the inside by pilots (of course not children but adults and not one but a two-pilot team for one robot this time). Shiver me timbers, we even have the usage of Japanese and German terms to name things („Kaijū" (Japanese for weird creature) for the monsters and „Jäger" (German for hunter) to describe the machines) and I remember NGE being especially fond of German portions here and there (Nerv, Seele, Asuka herself, etc) for whatever reason.
And YET, i surprisingly don't find myself joining or continuing the NGE/Pacific Rim-comparison rampage (and i really thought, i would) – because despite these similarities that i mentioned above, both NGE and Pacific Rim eventually turn out to be totally different things. I mean, sure, there are of course similarities but they're really just superficial since Del Toro came up with so many cool and own ideas that any further comparison appears plain forced to me. He also stated that he heard of Evangelion but never watched it and his screenwriter loved Evangelion but actually wrote most of Pacific Rim before he saw it. That said, why continuing to bother anyway? So far, my two cents about the NGE-plagiarism thing.
But, does this still classify Pacific Rim as a good movie?.........eh.....
If I had to describe Pacific Rim with one term it would be the following: Cinema flick. Because that's exactly what it is; a movie that works best when it can show off its mere size and thus is perfect for cinema. The bigger the screen the better and impressive, the louder the stereo the more badass it will be – because the size of this movie is huge, the scenes are epic, the visuals are spectacular. We have giant monsters and mechas, cities getting destroyed, explosions, oceanic combats, fire, things flying around, bombs, etc. - long story short, this is a wet dream for blockbuster-popcorn-actionfans. Which is also is the second term that i can give for this movie: Blockbuster-Popcorn-Action flick. Therefore something that is perfect for leaning back with friends, beer, some chips, turning off yer brains, simply enjoying some pure entertainment and partying all the effects and monsters that smash each others faces. With likeable characters and a decent story but nothing too deep or qualified to give you serious food for thought. There's nothing bad about that since even i sometimes feel the need to just „turn off" and lay back to celebrate some Roland Emmerich-disaster-shit from time to time and i love it. The trailer of Pacific Rim gave me an impression of what the movie would be like and i got exactly what i wanted – Blockbuster-Popcorn-Action. Rad.
And yet, that's also all about it. A movie which works best in cinema but will loose a LOT of its size when it's released on Blu-Ray and DVD for home entertainment (i just remember experiencing that with Clash Of The Titans for example. The flick itself was stupid, no word about that but i remember that i was indeed impressed by the mere scale of Kronos and the other creatures on big cinema screen. Later then, i watched it at home and everything of that was gone. Or perhaps, i just need a bigger TV).
The problem is: If nothing else than cinema epicness is left, a movie like that can drift into tediousness very fast. Even faster when you don't have a big screen. That is an issue that most Blockbuster-Popcorn-Action flicks suffer from, so they always do better when they have more than explosions and action to bid and lean themselves a little more out of their pure genre purposes.
And Pacific Rim, well....doesn't. The story is okay, but not too much of a hit or brainfucker. Many cool ideas, but most of them only vaguely addressed. And of course there had to be a bunch of clichés to underline the mediocrity (gawd, they even had to include the ever popular speech full of pathos about how „we won't get defeated and die today!"). Thank God they at least left out any romance which would be one of the good things that i really appreciate.
The main characters are mostly okay but also kind of bland and forgettable. Charlie Hunnam does a decent job on his character (your average traumatised tough guy) and so do the others but there really is nothing that much to pull off. I have to say, though, that i was honestly happy and delighted to see Rinko Kikuchi in this one (named „Mako" - another plus!). I knew Kikuchi from Brothers Bloom and totally digged her performance as Bang Bang so that was a nice and unexpected reencounter. Not to mention that i found her absolutely sexy in that fighting scene, where Becket decides her to be the perfect co-pilot. No seriously, that was a feast for the eyes. Yummy.
Mentioning the good stuff, i also might just add on a side note that the soundtrack wasn't that bad either. The main theme actually had a pretty catchy tune. Ramin Djawadi already proved with his work for Iron Man that he has a knack for epic „Stadion Soundtrack" music.
Back to characters again: If there are other characters that need to be mentioned – it has to be that scientific sidekick duo. By GOD, did i find these two douchebags annoying. One of them a hyperactive self-proclaimed „Kaijū-Groupie" (like...what the actual FUCK), the other one an apparent German guy, just as unnerving, just as awkward: and with the most cliché German haircut – seriously, WHAT. You place the events in the future and the best thing you can come up with is giving the German guy a doodlyfucking Nazi haircut. Idiocy overload. Can't handle.
Honestly, the whole time i was so hoping that these twits get eaten or smashed or something - and that should never be a good sign.
But, all the rambling aside and leading this thing to an end, what can i eventually say about Pacific Rim. Is it bad? Not necessarily. It is a GREAT „action flick", a GREAT „cinema flick", definitely a must watch if you're a fan of this genre and i assume that especially younger generations will totally dig that one (in fact, i believe that i for myself would have loved and watched Pacific Rim hundred times in a row when i`d be Twelve); but overall it is just a mediocre „general flick" and it can't hold up against other movies that are generally good.
So, if you love classical „monsters destroying cities"-movies like Godzilla and the like, if you just want to have action and celebrate the epic scale of big things that explode, if you're in need of some eye candy and visual effect CGI-orgasms and search for light entertainment – i would totally give it a go. If you already thought something like „God, no" when watching the trailer, you better skip it and wouldn't even miss anything.