July 15, 2013

Why Pacific Rim Is a Good Movie For Anyone Who Likes Awesome Things

Did you see Pacific Rim yet? If not, it's okay if you stop reading and run to a theater. Seriously – I encourage it. I saw it Saturday night, and I've been high on feelings of happiness ever since. To the point of getting a t-shirt custom made for Comic-Con and already ordering blue clip-in hair  pieces so I can look like Mako, the female lead of the film. Pacific Rim is everything I didn’t know I wanted in a movie about giant freaking robots fighting giant freaking monsters. The word epic barely does it justice.


So, when I saw an article on EW titled “Why 'Pacific Rim' is a good movie for geek girls” I clicked through with some interest. The lead image was of a shirtless Charlie Hunnam, and from that I knew I was in for an entertaining read. It was indeed entertaining but also sad. It begins, “There isn’t much entertainment out there for ladies of the geek persuasion — or to be more accurate, geek ladies and geek gentlemen attracted to other gentlemen.”

There isn’t? You could have fooled me.

The horrible article goes on to discuss how Pacific Rim failed the Bechdel test but then mostly reviews the film only in context of the hot men in it. I’m not denying some of them were attractive and that for some people the eye candy may have been the main draw, but in the tons of discussions I’ve had about the movie since Saturday, the attractiveness of various characters never came up. Not even once. I mean, come on. Hella impressive Jaegers battling terrifying Kaiju and you think the looks of the actors are the only part of the film worth mentioning?! How do these types of articles get through at EW?

Even the title of the article isn’t okay. The truth is the reasons Pacific Rim is a good movie for geek girls are the same reasons it’s good for anyone else. It’s packed with killer action, stunning visual effects, Idris Elba being fantastic, and more fist-pumping moments than should be allowed in a two hour movie. Your inner child will scream with joy. It’s one of those rare films that makes you leave the theater feeling like you could take on the whole Empire yourself.

I liked it a little bit.

Pacific Rim tells an apocalyptic tale in a fresh way. Gigantic monsters known as Kaiju live beneath our surface and break through a breach to terrorize coastal cities. They kill thousands of people and to keep them at bay we build equally massive robots called Jaegers to fight them. After we’ve had years of easy victories, we have to become better and more inventive to defeat the Kaiju. We follow a small cross section of the military in charge of the Jaeger operation through a trying point of the human vs. monster war. It is our most desperate hour and if we don’t step it up, we die.

The scale of the battles between Jaegers and Kaiju is just incredible. Mind-blowing, even. And you don’t need to be a giant robot enthusiast to enjoy and admire them. It’s easy to put yourself into the shoes of civilians running from Kaiju or in the place of a worker responsible for Jaeger repairs and be awed by the size. You're immersed because the world-building is done so very right. Awe is one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham’s story.

Besides the large cinematic slices of dessert for your eyes, I’m in awe of the details. Two neurally connected humans operate a Jaeger; it would have been easy to limit it to one person but this alternative provided more potential for interesting moments and relationships. I appreciate Mako’s backstory and determination. Small visual cues like the bright blue streaks in her hair and the blue JELL-O that matched the color of the Kaiju’s phosphorous blood tied everything together. The Kaiju have been around so long they’ve become part of our world and way of living, and the moviemakers show you evidence of it.

ILM did a knock-out job with the effects, and Ramin Djawadi added another layer with his music.

Pacific Rim did have its flaws but for me they weren’t deal breakers. The dialogue fell into the corny territory on more than one occasion. For the record, Idris Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost’s line about canceling the apocalypse is not corny. Not even close. The primary character – Raleigh Becket – wasn’t as developed as he could have been. I’d like to have seen just a touch more of his glory days and his fall to rock bottom in order to get behind him more. And more ladies would have been nice, but I’m pleased with Mako Mori and Rinko Kikuchi’s portrayal of her. She's a fine role model and obviously formidable.

Overall, those minor issues for me to grapple with on a much bigger landscape. It's a film that takes you on an insane and fun ride. Pacific Rim isn't just a good summer movie; it's perfect for any goddamn day.

5 comments:

  1. I loved this movie, and I am a proud geek lady! The Jaegers and Kaiju felt massive. I loved that a primary goal of the Jaegers was to keep the Kaiju away from the cities *cough ManOfSteel cough*. And I was in awe of all of the details.

    I didn't remember seeing a lot of scantily clad women in the movie. Does that mean there isn't much for geek gentlemen to like, either? Ridiculous. We are geeks because we are passionate about the ideas. Period. Exclamation mark.

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  2. Couldn't agree more Amy! And I do agree that there could've been more female leads, but I was extremely happy with Mako's story!

    However, there are many other things that Del Toro has done to get rid of cliches, which I can't thank him enough for: one is the multicultural aspect of it...For too long we've had America saving the world...Now we have them alongside Australia! And Japan! Russia! China! With the current force lead by an Englishman! Personally I would've liked to see more of the Russians (Cherno Alpha) and the Chinese (Crimson Typhoon). And I would've liked to see more of Japan's Jaeger; Coyote Tango (in Mako's flashback)...Mainly due to it being featured as much as the others in promo material.

    Another cliche Toro got rid of was a potential romantic involvement between Mako and Raliegh. I think I actually stopped breathing near the end as I thought 'oh for God's sake, don't bloody kiss...' And then a relieved exhale when they didn't! I love that there's a brother-sister potential that can be developed and sincerely hope that it evolves in that direction.

    Nevertheless...I NEED TO SEE IT AGAIN!

    AM

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  3. I loved the film. Despite being sick I trundled off to the theater and left feeling happy, if not a little more robust. Hopefully this films paves the way for more giant robot awesomeness, like maybe "Evangelion".

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  4. I'm glad this movie made so many other folks happy. I can't wait to see it again!

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  5. I need to go see this again now that Comic-Con is over. It's my favorite movie ever.

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