Pacific Rim: Written By Ten-Year-Olds, Made By Masters

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

There’s a lot of hand-wringing in nerd circles because Pacific Rim wasn’t a monster hit; it came in third at the box office this weekend, behind Adam Sandler’s Grown-Ups 2.  And that’s because Pacific Rim is a deeply flawed movie that reminds me of, of all movies, Titanic.
Because Pacific Rim is immune to criticism in the same way Titanic is.  Yes, it’s full of cheesy dialogue.  Yes, some of the action sequences don’t quite make physical sense.  Yes, the plot falls apart to the point where you’re actively questioning the plot points as they arise.
It’s also, like Titanic and Starship Troopers before it, tremendous fun if you hop on board.
The thing about Guillermo del Toro is that he swings for the rafters on this; he has a beautiful eye for scope, and so these huge robots feel terrifyingly, gloriously, large.  He keeps finding the perfect shot to make them large, putting smaller things next to them so you never forget the scale; a seagull, a school of fish, a schoolgirl.  When they’re stomping through downtown Hong Kong, goddamn if they don’t look like they’re titans battling among skyscrapers.  You feel small, and strangely ennobled, getting a ringside seat next to such massive violence.  And visually, it’s one of the most stylish movies to come along in a while, because everything has this worked-over feel that the original Star Wars had; these robots are banged up, scraped, they feel well-used.  If you’re looking for eye candy, your eyes will be swimming in diabetes by the time it is all done.
As for the plot, well, it has one.  This film gets by on sheer audacity, with people making such boldly bizarre statements in that Charlton Heston way of delivery that you either buckle under the strain of this bizarre reality and let it invade you, or you despise it. I mean, of course when two-hundred-foot high monsters start invading from the sea, the only answer is to build even larger robots to fight them. Of course, despite this apocalyptic scenario, there are only two scientists in the entire world devoted to analyzing the biology of these bizarre sea creatures.  Of course each of the monsters arrives on a schedule, so we can better plan our robot-fighting techniques.
But all my attempts at snark wash off.  I was grinning like a schoolboy the entire time, because if you pile absurdity onto absurdity, eventually it collapses into a sort of bizarre Axe Cop-like black hole where you realize Pacific Rim is not trying to emulate reality, it is trying to assemble a whole separately new reality that’s twice as entertaining.  It is staring logic in and eye and saying, “…but what fun would that be?”
On one level Pacific Rim is a hot mess of filmmaking… but on the other, it surpasses all of its flaws to be strapped together much like the robots in the movie: functioning despite all disbelief.
Pacific Rim claps its hands together and dares you to mock it.  What it loves, it loves hard, and unapologetically.  If you’re looking for giant fucking robots to judo-toss Godzilla, well, Guillermo Del Toro said, “I want that to happen.”  And he welded all that together with dialogue straight from frommage and special effects to make you gasp and a story that kind of sort of hangs together, and either you decide to hop on board or you hipster your way out of a hell of a lot of fun.
It’s up to you, man.  But I’d ride the robot, if you can.  It’s worth it.  (And doubly so in 3-D, which I hardly ever say.)

2 Comments

  1. BenjaminJB
    Jul 15, 2013

    When Charlie Day turned to Ron Perlman and said, “As you and I both know…”, that’s when I realized I was watching an 80s Japanese anime inspired by American 50s B-movies.

  2. Friday Pfender
    Jul 15, 2013

    I was on board 100% on Pacific Rim. And sure, there are tons of problems, but I don’t care. It was too much fun!
    And it made me want to see a movie where Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman sit in a diner for an hour and a half while terrible things happen.

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