Pacific Rim

So I saw Pacific Rim, and it was boatloads of fun. You can’t really “spoil” this movie, since it’s basically giant robots versus giant monsters and you know in the end the giant robots have to win because that’s what side the humans are on. It’s Gundam versus Godzilla, if you will. Unlike Transformers and many other modern films of its ilk, both the robots and the monsters move in proportion to their bulk: that is, slowly. Also unlike most modern action films, the camera work is such that you can actually follow what’s happening during each battle.

I went into this thinking I hadn’t heard of anybody in the cast, but that’s not entirely true. It stars Idris Elba, whom I’d forgotten I’d seen in both Thor and Prometheus. I was also pleased to see Ron Perlman (Hellboy, etc.) and Burn Gorman (Owen from Torchwood). Most of the rest of the cast were people known for their roles in popular television shows I’ve never seen: Jax from Sons of Anarchy/Nathan from Queer as Folk, Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Michael from Third Watch, Ben from True Blood/Sean from EastEnders.

The multicultural casting was interesting. The Japanese woman was played by a Japanese woman, but otherwise it was a strange blend. The Australians were played by an American and a Englishman; the American brothers were played by a Canadian and a Englishman; the German scientist was played by an American-born Englishman. (Actually, I’m not sure if he was supposed to be really German or just English with a German name.) But you still had all the tropes: the asshole in need of redemption, the has-been and the rookie both trying to prove themselves, the veteran with dark secrets, the over-enthusiastic scientist who gets reckless, the stuffy scientist convinced of his own infallibility, the tough guy businessman only in it for the money, and so on. But you know what? It works.

This film does not pretend to be anything more than a popcorn flick, and that’s a large part of its charm. I thought the need for two mentally linked pilots to share the neural load required to control the giant robot was a nice touch.  The monsters were interesting to look at and reasonably realistic.  I also liked how most of the cool parts from the trailer were actually from the first ten minutes of the movie (the monster trampling the Golden Gate Bridge, for example, was from the prologue), so I didn’t feel like I’d seen the movie before seeing the movie.

In short: if you’re looking for something deep and thought-provoking, this movie is not for you. If, on the other hand, you’d like to see a giant robot hit a giant monster with a boat, then you’re in for a treat.

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