Pacific Rim: sea monsters vs. robots—too silly to work?


Better late than never, right? Pacific Rim’s been out a while (since mid-July), but I just now got around to checking it out. I’ve gotta say—I thought the trailer for this looked stupid. Like, painfully stupid. So stupid that I never in a million years thought I would pay a cent to go see it in theaters. And now here I am biting my tongue.

I was 100% shocked when good reviews for this film started surfacing. But I held out until finally, after being slightly let down by Elysium and itching to go see another movie, I grabbed a girlfriend who wouldn’t judge my viewing choice and went on a manly movie date. My conclusion? I’m still not really understanding all the hype, but I will admit that it’s probably one of the most unique ideas of the summer and undoubtedly a ton of fun.

Synopsis: “As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.” Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.

The Good: As ridiculous as the premise sounds, it’s actually kinda cool. What’s nice is that unlike many monster movies, we don’t have to deal with a slow build-up to introducing the monsters. We’re given an explanation, and then we’re plunged right into the year 2020—a few years after the first monster made its appearance. We’re introduced to likeable protagonist Raleigh (played by Charlie Hunnam), who is in the unique position of co-piloting one of the giant robots used to battle the monsters. It’s a pretty interesting job, to say the least, and it’s definitely fun to have an inside look. And the visuals…well, the visuals are undeniably awesome. My inner 10-year-old boy was in hog heaven. It’s Transformers meets Godzilla, so of course it’s going to be impressive. Every fight is a visual treat, and there are plenty of fights to geek out over. Favorite scene: I guess it’s more of a moment than a whole scene, but during one of the fights, Raleigh activates an “elbow rocket.” Flames shoot out of the giant robot’s elbow, and the arm propels forward to deliver a solid punch right to the monster’s face. Monster flesh wobbles and glow-in-the-dark saliva flies. Coolness overload.

The Bad: I realize that when it comes to sci-fi films, you often have to suspend disbelief, but there were often times when I just couldn’t. For starters, I had a hard time when it came to some of the technology in Pacific Rim—a problem that could easily be fixed if this film was set further in the future. Even if we brought together the greatest scientific minds, I doubt that in less than ten years we’d have technology that allows us to share a mind with another person, which is what’s required of the robot pilots. I’m even dubious about the robots themselves—both our ability to create them and the likelihood of that being the idea we cling to. Like, we can’t just go with really big bombs? A punching, sword-wielding robot trumps that? It’s almost like the world asked my inner 10-year-old boy how he would get rid of monsters. Also, there’s a point in the film when some people say, “Screw the robots. Let’s just build some really big walls.” And for a while, they do. I mean…really?? I know, of course, that the “fiction” in “science fiction” is the key word for movies like this, but a little sprinkle of believability would be nice. Least favorite scene: When one of the monsters gives birth. Very random, kinda gross, and not really necessary to the plot (a query for those who have seen the film—couldn’t the scientists just have used the monster mama’s brain?).

To Sum It Up: This film is a thoroughly enjoyable ride with a unique premise, awesome visuals, and generally likeable characters. If you can get past the many ridiculous and shaky areas of the plot, you’ll probably have a lot of fun. I might be giving them the same grade, but in a sci-fi showdown between Pacific Rim and Elysium, I’d say Pacific Rim wins.

My Grade: B

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