Warning this post may contain spoilers on Pacific Rim. Please do not read this until you see the movie.
When Pacific Rim was released, I had no interest in seeing it. Big budget, action, robot films rarely excite me. Additionally, the marketing for the film lacked momentum. Not until the week of release did I hear about Pacific Rim. However, through the power of social media, my curiosity became piqued. People reblogged gifs of it on Tumblr all the time. Twitter chirped with articles about Pacific Rim. Therefore, I took to a trusted friend for more information about this movie: IMDB. I discovered that Pacific Rim was highly rated by IMDB users, and directed by Guillermo del Toro. Because Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies of all-time, I am naturally inclined to see any movie directed by del Toro. Another selling point was Robert Kazinsky. Kazinsky made this season of True Blood enjoyable. Therefore, all the social media buzz about the film, the cast and the director made its DVD release date an important time for me.
Tonight I watched Pacific Rim. I now understand the cult behind it. However, some glaring problems with the film kept me from drinking the cult Kool-Aid.
So here are five reasons why Pacific Rim is cooler than you think, and three reasons why it’s not.
Cooler Than You Think
1. Movie Genre-Hybrid-Baby Film
My movie genre expertise does not correlate with the ones that influenced Pacific Rim . However, even non-experts, like me, easily can understand how certain film genres inspired elements of this movie. Pacific Rim partially sources monster movies, hero origin tales and even a few buddy cop/romance ones.
The film draws heavily from Japanese monster movies. Some of the best moments of Pacific Rim involves the mimicking of Godzilla or King Kong movies. Pacific Rim clearly loves, knows and appreciates all the genres referenced, and because of that, it’s an admirable production.
2. How Casting Should Be Done
It unsettles me when casting directors go for big Hollywood names instead of acting abilities. With that being said, the majority of the cast of Pacific Rim has little name recognition to an American audience. Nevertheless, everyone in the cast radiates acting talent. Along with Kazinsky, I am a fan of Idris Elba and Charlie Day. Additionally, Rinko Kikuchi‘s performance on Babel is unforgettable. The only actor I was unfamiliar with, going into this film, was Charlie Hunnam. However, upon further research, I discovered how crafted he is at creating characters.
Overall, the Pacific Rim’s cast is what dreams are made of.
3. Diversity, Yeah!
The film needs a bit more racial diversity. Nonetheless, the multi-racial casting represents what the future of film casting should look-like. Besides being racial diverse, the Pacific Rim cast is globally diverse. Americans are the minority in this movie.
Pacific Rim‘s casting choices helps convey the idea that films need more diversity with leading roles.
4. Pretty Colours
Despite the sea monsters destroying it, Pacific Rim‘s version of Hong Kong looks breathtaking. A major reason for this involves the films consistent use of contrasting red and blue. A whole analytical piece for the film could really dive into the interesting patterns with the red and blue scenes in Pacific Rim. For example, I’m sure some film student could do a whole reading on the scene when Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) carries her little red shoes while being chased by a huge robot monster. They could argue that the red shoes in this totally demolished place symbolizes hope. Then they could say something about how red often shows hope in the film, and also tie that in with the important of red to Hong Kong.
The red burns bright while the city turns grey and dark. It’s just such a beautiful visual.
5. Sign Me Up For This World
While watching Pacific Rim, I started wondering about evolution. I wondered if these creatures could actually happen one day. Then I started wondered if we should prepare now. I also wondered where would I get a cool robot suit.
I respect and admire how effortlessly del Toro created a world I fully believe.
Why It’s Not
1. You Can Fight Him, But You Can’t Stand Up For Yourself!
A major problem in Pacific Rim is the characterization of Mako. She gives in too much to her emotions and is almost entirely submissive. Essentially, Mako, as the only female character, classifies on the same hero level as the men. However, her fragile mentality makes her weaker than them. The most disturbing display of Mako’s fragile nature shows when she cannot control her memories and almost kills everyone at the lab. If the film had any other character behaving this way, it wouldn’t have felt like a jab against women. Because Mako as the only woman seems so emotional, it feels like the film is saying, “women: too emotional for heroics.” No other character in Pacific Rim displays lack of emotional control in this way. Becket (Charlie Hunnam) faces similar distress but he remains calm.
Another point of concern is Mako’s relationship with Pentecost (Idris Elba). Until his death, he controlled her completely, and she submitted to him easily. Just because he was her father figure does not excuse their concerning relationship. Even daughters rebel against controlling fathers. I do not believe Pacific Rim intended to express sexist ideologies, but sometimes the intent does not match the reality.
People can argue it is an Asian culture thing. However, I will prove those stereotypes incorrect.
2. I’ll Take That Without All The Cheese
As a robot film, I expected robot film dialogue. Therefore, I did not expect Shakespeare in the park. Nevertheless, sometimes the writing became so cheesy that I cringed. Other times, the film felt so formulaic that I could predict the lines and storylines.
One moment that almost made me want to turn away, because it was too painful (in a laughable way) to watch, is the tearful goodbyes between Chuck (Robert Kazinsky) and Herc (Max Martini). That scene’s writing ranks on the same level as soap opera cheesy. Aside: No offense is intended to soap opera fans or writers. Soap operas, despite their bad reputation, can have very captivating storylines and scenes. However, when soap opera writers fail to write something believable, they really fail. End Aside.
Like soap operas, when Pacific Rim‘s writing lacks believability, it really does.
3. Know The Rules of Textbook Characters, Then Break Them
Despite the talent of the cast, at times the characters are one-dimensional and unrealistic. Pentecost’s angry screaming almost discredited Elba as an actor. It just didn’t feel natural. Both Kazinsky and Hunnam fall into character stereotypes. Kazinsky embodies the jerk, with a daddy issues, cliche, just as much as Hunnam represents the All-American hero one.
Their acting was fine, but neither actor attempted to take these characters to another level. A textbook character can still have dimensions to make it more than that(See: Joss Whedon characters as reference).
Dr. Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are the most fascinating characters in Pacific Rim. Both of them are reinterpretations of very classic character stereotypes. They took weird scientists characters to new levels. Dr. Geiszler’s quest storyline is so interesting that it easily could have been its own film.
Pacific Rim definitely has a lot of inspiring qualities: the homage to monster films, the perfect casting and the subtle usage of colors. However, there is a lot of room for improvements. So if there is a sequel someday, work on the problems. Therefore, it can truly become a monster of a film.