Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pacific Rim. Really?

*WARNING - spoilers to follow*
A few days ago, I finally got around to watch del Toro's Pacific Rim. I truly wish I hadn't. I really just need a place to rant about it. After just barely being able to force myself to finish the movie, I simply had to look online to see what others thought of this disaster. Turns out, a whole lot of people actually really enjoyed it. The movie somehow received a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 on IMDb. Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry del Toro, but here's why you don't deserve those scores.

The first issue I found with the movie started, well, at the very beginning. A voiceover. That's what the director thought would be a good way to start the movie. A voiceover is probably the biggest copout anyone could use in order to catch viewers up to speed. While it's an effective way, it's the least creative and simplest way to summarize what's happened up to what we're seeing. There are dozens of other, better ways to do this.

For those of you who don't know, Pacific Rim is about an alien invasion from giant, reptile-like creatures, called Kaiju, that come from deep under the ocean's surface. Us, meaning humans, build giant Rockem Sockem Robots, called Jaegers, to fight off these creatures. The voiceover used at the opening of the movie basically summarizes the aliens' first arrival and the battle that's been going on for so many years to fight for our survival. Instead of a voiceover, del Toro could have simply used quick shots of news channels so that viewers understood what was going on. That's probably the simplest substitute. Honestly, even if there was absolutely no introduction to the issue, the plot was simple enough that viewers could figure it out on their own.

The second, and probably the largest, issue I had with Pacific Rim was the fact that there was absolutely no trace of character development. Sure, Idris Elba's character eventually warmed up to the idea of allowing his adopted daughter, Mako, to become a Jaeger pilot, but that's merely because the entire planet would be doomed if he didn't. Elba's character remains the same hard-assed man throughout the entire movie. Raleigh, the main character of the movie, never strays from his "unpredictable," loose-canon nature. I don't think his tone of voice ever really changes either. Mako, pretty much the only female character in the entire movie, simply wants revenge for the death of her family. When she was young, a Kaiju attack wiped out her entire city, which is when Elba's character finds and rescues her. One would think that, being a movie and all, Mako would eventually put her lust for revenge aside so that she can better fight the monsters and save the planet. Nope! That would simply be too close to making Pacific Rim a half-decent movie. You would probably see more character development if you replaced every single character in the movie with a sack of potatoes.

Actors are the life force that drive a movie. They have the power to decide whether a movie tanks or becomes a hit. I'm not quite sure who picked the cast for this movie, but they sure did a very poor job. The main character, Raleigh, played by Charlie Hunnam, was probably the least emotional character I've ever watched in my entire life. Hunnam's monotone voice and blank facial expressions made for a reasonably boring, one-dimensional character. I was nearly put to sleep during his few monologues.

Idris Elba, who played the role of Marshall Stacker Pentecost (which really isn't a name to begin with), pretty much had the same issue as Hunnam. At the climax of the movie, when Pentecost decides to return to Jaeger piloting, he yells "We are canceling the apocalypse!" Anyone who's at least seen the trailer knows what scene I'm talking about. This very moment should make viewers sit on the edge of their seats, overly eager to see what's about to happen. Me? I felt nothing. I was shockingly indifferent due to Elba's tone which slightly resembled that of a parent scolding a child.

I'll end this topic with one last example of poor casting. For some strange reason, whoever was in charge of putting this odd cast together thought it would be a good idea to place Charlie Day, an actor who has been reasonably successful in recent comedies, as the doctor/scientist character in Pacific Rim. I understand Day probably wanted to try out a new role, and I understand that his character was meant to add a bit of
comic relief to the movie, but what I don't understand is how viewers are supposed to take his character at all seriously. Typecasting is a thing. It's a sad fact of the movie industry, but nonetheless, it exists. If Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was cast as a tooth fairy (oops, that's already happened), nobody would be able to take the movie seriously. It's simply too far outside of their normal roles. Some lucky actors are able to escape the monster known as typecasting, but Charlie Day is not one of them.

The final issue I found with Pacific Rim came towards the end of the movie. What many action movies like to do is state the solution to a problem and try to bullshit their way into making it sound like a discovery that required some higher level of intelligence. What really happens is that the writers of the movie can't think of a way to realistically solve the problem, so they make a solution appear out of thin air.

A prime example of this situation is demonstrated towards the end of this movie. When all hope is lost, and the resistance is convinced that the Kaiju will finally wipe out the human population, Charlie Day's character decides to use the futuristic technology that exists in the movie to connect his mind with that of a dead Kaiju's brain. Even according to him, this kind of experiment would have killed pretty much anyone, but of course, that would inconvenience the movie's plot too much. Day's character then claims, after magically surviving the procedure with little to no physical damage, he "discovered" that placing a nuclear bomb in the space-time bridge, which the monsters have been using to get to Earth, will collapse the bridge and end the invasion. There was no fictional scientific proof. There was no questioning his logic. It just worked. Poof. No more Kaiju invasion.

For a guy who honestly enjoys watching the occasional mindless action flick, I can say that I've never been so close to turning off a movie so many times. Was Pacific Rim an awesome movie? Yeah, I guess so. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't fun to watch a giant robot smack an alien over the head with a boat. I'd also be lying if I said the robots probably didn't kill more people than the actual aliens did when they would throw them through heavily populated city buildings. Pacific Rim was basically just Transformers on steroids. It was twice as awesome, but just a mindless.

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