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Pacific Rim

(2013)
I wasnt particularly interested in this movie after seeing the trailers, and a friend of mine for whom it seemed custom-made gave it a thoroughly mixed review. But even though Im souring on Guillermo Del Toro, I havent given up on him, and I appreciate his creativity and his zest toward sci-fi/fantasy genre projects. Which explains why I sat through more than two hours of giant robots fighting giant monsters (I figured if I could make it through three Transformers movies, I could get through this). Yeah, there are some humans in there, but this movie is really all about the big and I mean BIGshow. Apparently sometime in the near future, giant monsters called kaiju (which is apparently Japanese for, um, giant monster) have started to emerge through a portal in the bottom of the Pacific, and are terrorizing the cities there. Rather than defend ourselves in a constructive way, like say building super-submarines with nuclear torpedoes or something akin, no, we spend untold trillions on giant robots known as jaegers (which, the movie tells, is German for hunter; so would a great pilot be known as a jaegermeister?), which are then air-dropped into the water to fight the kaidu, with spectacular looking results that destroy whole cities and frequently kill the pilots of the jaegers, who have to be specially chosen because there need to be two and they have to be psychically compatible, and my head was starting to hurt from all this specialized knowledge and all that was before the opening credits appeared. Then the story starts five years later, with our hero Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), once a great jaeger pilot, but now, with his brother dead (shown in the lengthy pre-credits sequence) is working on The Wall, which they are building to keep the monsters in the sea. For some reason the earths governments are defunding the jaegers, even though they have been proven to be the only working defense against the kaiju. So jaeger program officer Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) no, Im not making that name up, though someone did is rounding up the best and brightest from around the Pac Rim and forming the One Last Chance Jaeger club. Were not the army any more, he says, leading Raleigh into a cavernous installation the size of New York City filled with nearly as many people. Were the resistance. Of apparently tens of thousands, and very well funded. Anyway, a story like this wouldnt be complete without a beautiful but emotionally fragile Japanese girl, whom we get in Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who is Stackers aide and just wants to be a jaeger pilot but blah blah blah and shes the only girl in the picture, so you know Raleigh will fall for her (well, theres one Russian chick, but she looks more like a man, so theres only one potential love interest in the movie, put it that way). Theres also an annoying subplot wholly concocted simply to give Del Toro buddy Ron Perlman a role, as a pimped-out kaiju organ dealer called Hannibal Chau (an unlikely moniker, but almost normal next to Stacker Pentecost). Perlman mostly has to deal with two nerdy, annoying scientists, and the only reason theyre there is so that toward the end of the movie they can tell Tony Stark that he has to take the nuke through the wormhole to destroy the aliens. Yes, thats right, the climax is stolen completely from a movie that everyone in the demographic for this

movie saw, although to cut Del Toro a little slack, it probably took forever to get this movie made, so he may have stolen that ending from Masters of the Universe, not The Avengers. The movie is very stylized and drips with geek-heavy dialogue and concepts, but it makes so little sense it gave me a headache. I can hear fans of the film saying you didnt get it, but thats not true; I got it, I just thought it was needlessly intricate and brain-dead. You build 500-foot-tall robots and then have to air-lift them into the sea? Why not just build their hangars on the beach? For that matter, why bankrupt nations that cant even contain one nuclear meltdown on such incredibly expensive machines that get destroyed in one fight? This is a relentlessly stupid universe that makes no sense unless you specifically choose to enjoy it. It doesnt help that the dialogue is awful. I mean truly, irrevocably, banally awful. Its all clichs you can see coming a mile away, and none of it helps flesh out the barely two-dimensional characters, none of whom have any charisma or engage the viewer in any way; theyre as soulless as the machines they pilot, and when one of them bites it in combat, you feel nothing, like an expendable pawn in a video game, which is what this movie resembles more than anything else. There are some design touches I liked in the film the Russian jaeger being old and clunky, and the Chinese one being flashy and red (much like her pilots, triplets who wear pimped-out red sports gear in their brief, non-speaking appearances); but even within the confines of the universe Del Toro creates, the movie is just mind-numbingly dumb. If Gipsy Danger (again with the names), the jaeger that Raleigh and Mako pilot, has a giant sword, why wait until one of your arms is ripped off to employ it? I know, this is standard action-film bushwa, to wait until things are truly desperate before pulling out the big gun, but when the survival of the entire earth is at stake, maybe you should use the big weapon first. Just sayin. Im sure this movie has its share of fans, and it even has a moderately high score on Rotten Tomatoes; but I found it one of the dumbest excuses for a movie and story in quite some time. I actually felt less intelligent after watching it. I suppose if one really loved the giant robot genre or was a good deal more forgiving (or stupid) than average, one could enjoy this movie. But if I turned off my brain enough to enjoy this movie, I wouldnt be able to switch it back on (which Im sure devoted fans of the movie who read this would prefer). Put it this way; it makes the Transformers movies look smart and that aint easy. If youre already predisposed to like this movie, by all means, check it out; but if youre merely curious, or intrigued by Del Toro, like I was, dont. They might as well have called it Pacific Dim. October 19, 2013

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