Pacific Rim is one of those movies I have been eagerly anticipating. Japanese anime has long been populated with giant sized robots working with man to combat various evils so the premise of this film was an exciting one. I was expecting a Gundam style experience with some really cool aliens thrown in the mix.
Well … not so much. I don’t know where to start with this film because so much of it felt so WRONG. The CGI was cool. The robots (Jaegers) looked cool. The idea of a united nations of robots was very cool. The storyline behind the character of Mako (the Japanese girl) was interesting and I thought the actress who played her did quite well. Aaaand that’s about it.
There are a few spoilers hidden in my dialogue (nothing major though), however if you are a purist you should stop reading this post now.
The world of Pacific Rim was immersive, but parts of it just felt so fake. The set designer for Hong Kong should be shot for a start. Those of you who read my blog will know Hong Kong does not look like an American Chinatown .. but it does in this film. They tried to use a Hong Kong taxi and double decker bus as props – the bus was prehistoric (looked more like a 1960’s bus) and the taxi’s sign was the wrong shape. The streets didn’t feel like Hong Kong. Did they pull the props out of a 1980’s prop department somewhere? I don’t have an issue with filming on a set in the US … just TRY to get it right so people will believe they are thrown into a futuristic Hong Kong and not some cheesy backlot. Our full house cinema laughed when they got their first close up look at Hong Kong because it was so bad. Actually now that I think of it, Hong Kong in Pacific Rim reminded me of the Mars colony from ‘Total Recall” (the Arnie version).
Australian accents do not sound like South African accents … the movie didn’t get the accents right and it bugged me. I was sitting in the movie wondering what happened to Australia that the accent got so messed up in the future … if anything shouldn’t it sound more New Zealand? 😉
The monsters – the kaiju as they are known in the film. In the cinema, they were hard to distinguish from the background a lot of the time because of their grey skin contrasting with the fleuro blue on them. They didn’t seem as polished as other CGI monsters we’ve seen recently. Their invasion methods didn’t make sense, although as they were aliens and monsters I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they had ‘bad guy stupidity syndrome’ despite the ability to invade numerous worlds and build inter-dimensional vortexes.
Ron Perlman’s character was great comic relief, but he was too comical to work within the world of the movie. He and the scientists were funny, but the rest of the film played so seriously that their characterisations seemed out of place.
The politics. I know governments can make bad decisions, however if you disband a military division because of an alternate plan, that effectively is toppled down literally only moments later … why would you not re-instate the program that was working? You’re about to loose the planets to aliens – somehow I don’t think cost will be a huge issue. The government plays a huge role in the early part of the movie only to never be heard from again later on in any capacity – either in anger or acceptance. It didn’t make sense.
I think that was my biggest problem with this film. Concepts were dangled or started but they weren’t explained or followed through fully enough for aspects of the movie to make sense. I can accept a world with invading aliens and giant robots, but let me be immersed by developing the characters, explain things.
WHY did the human drivers have to move to make the robot move even though the connection to the machine in neural?
WHY hadn’t they taken some of the defeated Jaegers (robots) and reconstructed new ones?
And … the sword … um – hello – if you’ve got a giant robot with a ginormous sword – why are you NOT using that weapon in the first place when you are engaging in imminent hand to hand combat?!
As a member of the audience I came out of the movie more frustrated than anything else. Such an awesome concept … so much potential … brilliant base material to work with … but not executed cleanly. It’s disappointing because the concept has scope for a series of films … if they make a second film, here’s hoping they do a bit more groundwork.