Pacific Rim

I was absolutely determined to love Pacific Rim. So far this summer has brought a lot of disappointment from Hollywood, and at this point I need to see something that proves that someone around there still knows what they’re doing. I’d heard almost universal praise from people who’d gone to preview screenings, so I took the risk of getting my hopes up. It’ll probably be a while before I let that happen again.

The premise is very simple: there’s some kind of atomic wormhole that links an alien world with a gash in the bottom of the ocean, and every so often a big creature called a Kaiju emerges from it and causes a whole lot of destruction until the humans can manage to kill it. At first, that was done with the traditional military weaponry, but when that proved inefficient, mankind created giant robots called Jaegers to fight the giant aliens. The robots are too complex to be controlled by a single person, so each of them needs two people with their brains linked together so that they do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, and the robot mimics their actions.

Logic and creativity were apparently in extremely short supply when they were designing these robots because they are so obviously not the right tools for the job. They look something like huge versions of the Halo soldiers, which means they have roughly the same shape as humans, with arms, legs, a torso and a head. It doesn’t seem to matter that the head serves no apparent purpose, or that standing on two legs doesn’t provide very good speed or balance, or that maybe slow punches are a really crappy way to inflict damage. I would’ve expected that, with the world at stake, people might have started thinking outside the box and tried to come up with something that’s actually good at fighting the monsters. But they’ve only got two nerds and they’re too busy being annoying one-dimensional stereotypes to contribute much to the effort, and the best idea that the rest of humanity can come up with is to build a big wall around everything.

The movie is obviously based on the classic Japanese monster movies made popular in the 1950s but without any understanding of what makes them fun. It’s true that, like the older movies,

Pacific Rim

has horrible acting and cringe-worthy dialogue, but that’s not the secret. Certainly all of the CGI makes the new movie look flashier than the old ones featuring a guy in a rubber suit, but that also doesn’t do anything to add to the enjoyment. In fact, it’s pretty hypocritical for the movie to repeatedly stresses the classical approach may have something to offer over the new hotness, and then to subject us to nothing but pixels fighting pixels.

Clearly what this movie is really missing is the heart. It just doesn’t seem like the people involved really cared about trying to make a good movie. Perhaps it’s because most of the actors are predominantly involved with television and couldn’t adjust to a feature film. Maybe it’s that just about everything that happens is stolen from some other movie where it was done better (well, except maybe for the stuff they lifted from Avatar) so there’s nothing we haven’t seen before. I expected much better from Guillermo del Toro, but honestly I would have expected better from just about anyone.