How much ocean can you put in a movie about heavy, metal, sink-ready robots? Apparently “too much” isn’t really a thing. There is perhaps more ocean spray in Pacific Rim than in every commercial ever made for Sea World. But even far off the coast of whatever Pacific Rim nation they are defending, these robots have an uncanny ability to find an island of shallow water and defend it to their last electrical surge.
Not that plot is a huge win-or-lose factor here, but this is generally what we’re looking at: aliens from another dimension — not from space – invade our planet for the sole purpose of wiping out the population, because who really needs a reason these days? So what do the humans do? We build robots. Obviously Gundam Wing was more influential than originally assumed. The Pacific Rim robots — or, Jaegers — seem like an excellent way to stall the invasion until mankind comes up with a better idea. They need something creative, something unbreakable, something entirely foolproof… Maybe a wall will work? I mean a really, really big wall. The only thing to be meticulous over is that the height of the wall rivals that of the aliens… You can guess what happens next. The non-nation-specific government’s backup plan is to embarrassingly back up and return to Plan A: the Jaeger Program. Only, now the only pilots left are either traumatized veterans or vengeance-hunting noobs. So proceeds Pacific Rim’s first hour or so.
The sheer magnitude of everything is pretty much the neatest thing about this movie. I apologetically return one “cheese” point for originally thinking that Pacific Rim was filmed in slow motion. It’s not. Everything is just so big that each punch, each throw, each magnificent roar and charging of the plasma cannon, is slooooooowed down. They try to account for this in dialogue, naming one Jaeger as “the fastest of them all!” Frankly, I’d want a photo finish.
But what about the characters? Those fearless, seasoned, highly cartoonish soldiers who come from every edge of the globe to represent their general nation in the first ever Stereotype Olympics? We could forgo names entirely and label these characters “the commander”, “the father-figure”, “the ass”, “the Russians”, etc. Speaking of the Russians, it’s encouraging to see that even though she hasn’t taken a break in over a decade, Lt. A. Kaidanovsky still finds time to apply multiple layers of lipstick before marching into battle. Their list of priorities is, I guess, very short.
The special effects are, I admit, a highlight. It may often be hard to keep track of the fighting because the participants are so big, but the details are all there. The hand-to-hand, man-to-man combat sequences are excellent with great choreography, but these fighting skills fail to translate to the giant robots. Years of kung-fu training are abandoned in favour of rocket punches. Actual rocket punches.Buildings in the future, however, have abandoned concrete for caramel wafers and Jenga blocks, causing even the gentlest of monster taps to bring the whole structure tumbling down.
Pacific Rim is just… what’s the word? There really isn’t one. I’d say cartooneffectaplasmic, but I think the meaning is lost on all except Marry Poppins. This movie was made on the bullet-point dreams of a twelve-year-old, checking off rally speeches, monster death matches, neon ooze, mad scientists, and a giant sword that is completely forgotten until after all the guns are spent. Between these bullet points we have filler, fluff, and frenzy. With Today-Is-Not-That-Day speeches, cobbled back-story, and monsters that look like they swallowed the Tron universe, Pacific Rim is sensory overloaded 4/10.