Okay, when commercials for Pacific Rim first hit the airwaves, I thought it looked silly (I was probably right, but I’m getting ahead of myself). It kinda looked like Transformers meets Cloverfield meets Independence Day (I was very right, but again I’m getting ahead of myself). I resigned myself to not watching it, but then when it came out, my Twittah was abuzz with like-minded folks (or at least who I think are like-minded) who seemed to enjoy it, if for nothing else than the absurdist entertainment value. So I thought I’d wait until DVD time, and last night I sat down and watched it.
Verdict? Entertaining, looks great in HD, wasn’t necessarily a waste of two hours of my very valuable (ahem) social life, had some cool tech, but really an average movie overall. But my biggest takeaway, what I can’t get out of my head, was the incredibly difficult time I had suspending my disbelief and hearing the echoes of plot holes in my head. And I’m usually very good about that when it comes to big, blow-em-up flicks. Just so I can clear my conscience, I’m going to list a few of the doozies even my 13 year old was scratching his head over.
Warning: There Be Spoilers Ahead
1 – In one of Pacific Rim’s mid-act battles, when the kaiju are surprisingly taking the upper hand on the jaegers, Gipsy Danger (the protagonist jaeger of sorts; I’ll hereafter refer to the machine itself instead of the pilots) is heavily damaged and about to bite the big one, plasma cannon down and so on, when it pulls out a weapon of last resort, a giant sword. Like it was a second thought, “oh wait, we have this giant sword left, hope it helps”, and without so much as an overused television SHRINNNNGGGG sound effect, the kaiju is dispatched. My immediate reaction: “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T THEY START WITH THAT?” I mean, it makes for great drama, but…WHY? And the very end battle, this same sword bifurcates a Level 4 kaiju. In one swipe. Shouldn’t all the jaegers have a sword? Maybe TWO?
2 – The plan is to drop a fairly big (1.2 megaton) thermonuclear device into the breach to seal it, so Striker Eureka straps it onto its back and heads into battle, hoping to do the drop and save the world. Battle goes awry (no way!), so Striker decides to sacrifice itself, detonate the device, kill two kaiju, and allow Gipsy Danger to jump in and self-destruct its own nuclear power plant instead. So this big boom happens, underwater, just a few miles offshore from Hong Kong. Like, within sight of the beautifully lit skyline. Yes, it was deep, but wouldn’t this big ol’ pressure wave do something above? Like, maybe wash away the east coast of China with a massive tsunami, or at least half of Hong Kong? (Disclaimer: I am not an oceanographer or nuclear scientist, so I may be wrong about this…just looking at it from the surface, no pun intended.)
3 – Giving Max Martini a ridiculously bad Australian accent. He’s played essentially the same character (hard ass military dude) for a decade plus now; why make him struggle through this role sounding like a drunk Crocodile Dundee with marbles in his mouth?
4 – Requisite goofball scientist character shows that the kaijus are clones, identical DNA, essentially being grown. But at the end, one is pregnant. Why? Did the kaiju high council suddenly think that was a better way to clear a path to owning Earth? Hey, forget cloning, it’s too easy and predictable. Let’s let them fool around in the back of a kaiju car, steaming up the windows, yeah! Or was it just a convenient (yet predictable) way to get rid of a terribly-underused Ron Perlman?
5 – Who installed the giant Cuisinart food processor in the COCKPIT? What is this, Galaxy Quest?
6 – Several of the kaiju show quite a bit of dexterity and leaping ability, not to mention brute strength and size. So our defense after they got too powerful to stop with giant rockem sockem robots was…a WALL? A wall that takes years to build, and that the next kaiju broke through in an hour? Did they have some special concrete they were using they thought would be better than titanium clad, nuclear powered Transformers with plasma cannons? Shouldn’t they have made the wall with millions of those frickin’ swords?
7 – Did Pacific Rim have to pull SO MUCH from other movies? Isn’t anything original anymore? Leaving out the obvious Transformers and Cloverfield stuff, this was almost Independence Day 2: Underwater. When the marshall was giving his “today we are canceling the apocalypse” speech, I fully expected him to follow it up with “this is our Independence Day!” Or maybe Gipsy Danger smoking a cigar, flashing two fingers at the under-breach overlords, and saying, “Peace!” One thing they did leave out: the Statue of Liberty, which is always the last place to be when global disaster strikes (since it’s always destroyed, just for movie posters I guess). But I suppose that’s because this was Pacific Rim, not Atlantic Rim. Just you wait for the sequel…
8 – And just to wrap it up, a quick line of dialogue. The last half hour or so of Pacific Rim was destruction porn as kaijus and jaegers pretty much raze Hong Kong to the ground. Skyscraper after skyscraper, vehicle after vehicle, street after street, gone. Crushed like ten Avengers movies. So after a ‘victory’, the marshall says to everyone that “this is no time to celebrate, we lost two crews.” TWO CREWS? You just lost a million Hong Kong inhabitants, man, a quarter of whom you squished under titanium jaeger feet! I get it, you have a responsibility to your command and your people. But maybe, just maybe, give a little shout out to those hundreds of thousands of corpses first.
Okay, thanks. I feel much better. And Pacific Rim was a watchable flick. Good effects (easier to follow the battles than Avengers, that’s for sure), good editing and sound, meh acting, loved the term “neural handshake”, some holes. But watchable.