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Ian O'Rourke
United Kingdom
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Monsters! Mecha! Disappointment
Keywords: Film; Film Review.

The weird thing about Pacific Rim is I wasn’t expecting some sort of great work of art. I was perfectly willing to accept it all as grand, epic, melodramatic nonsense. Possibly looking gorgeous along the way. I was also expecting it to be panned by the critics. Surprisingly, the film started to get good reviews. Even more strangely, it started to get ridiculously good reviews by the broadsheets that normally stick the knife into such things. The fourth best film one of them had seen in the cinema this year, apparently? And the list was longer than four.

What the hell was going on? I still have no idea as the film was painful.

I liked the monsters versus mecha fights. They were the best bits of the film. If it wasn’t for the ‘pre-credit’ fight and the massive rumble between several monsters and robots around the middle of the film the whole piece would have been snooze inducing. There has been complaints the fights aren’t clear and are the usual mixture of dark footage, sharp edits and up close camera angles. I didn’t find this to be the case and found them perfectly clear and understandable. True, the only fight not filmed in the rain is filmed underwater, which is a bit frustrating, as it feels a bit stale these days as a choice, but I never had a clarity problem. . I also liked how everything seemed to have weight and impact. The way the film portrayed its ‘physics’ had something that added to the mix. The film largely delivered on the mecha v monsters scenes.

The film just shot itself in the foot on everything in between!

The script is so much like a straight to video eighties film that I can’t help but think they did it on purpose (probably giving it too much credit in the process). It’s Iron Eagle and American Ninja on a $200m budget with a bit of Top Gun thrown in. It certainly doesn’t have the charm of Top Gun, neither are you drawn into any of the relationships. There is stuff there. An ‘adoptive father’ protecting his ‘daughter’. The possibilities for mixing up the psychic nature of the ‘drift’, that allows the piloting of the mechs, in with a growing romantic relationship and the transfer of allegiance from ‘father’ to ‘partner’. Alas, it doesn’t really happen, even to the point the fact they make so much of the ‘drift’ is a complete oddity. Scenes happen, but we don’t really care, it rumbles along in a banal and ham-crafted fashion. It’s brutal.

There is undoubtedly a lot of homage material in the film, most of it I probably missed. The umbrella in the rain. The extended scene with the young girl crying during the Kaiju attack (one of the best non-fight scenes in the film). Hell, the young girl is one of the best actors. The comedy scientists. Don’t get me started on the comedy scientists. I hated it. I would though. One of the banes of modern blockbusters, post-Transformers, is the need for the comedy thread or middle section. Like it’s a template that films have to follow which are given the obligatory increased air time in the sequel. While I realise this was a homage to the acentric, overly dramatic and downright odd scientists and geeks that appear in the material Pacific Rim is sourced from it was just…embarrassing to the point of being uncomfortable. If I wanted to watch something with all the annoying tropes of the original source material I’d be reading or watching them. I don’t, so they irritated every fibre of my being every time the duo appeared. I guess I was wanting a more westernised version. I’m sure people think that’s exactly what we got.

I’m easily pleased in many ways. I don’t expect these films to be movie epoch defining classics like Die Hard. For instance, I adore the film Armageddon. I think it is a classic of cinema in a grand, disaster filled, testosterone fuelled, bro-mance focused, and melodramatic way. The soundtrack is great. You care about the characters and their relationships, even the micro-ones. As time has gone on I’ve given the film more and more credit as while people are dismissive of it I’m just waiting for most blockbusters to get anywhere near it in terms of how well it’s done (never mind the actual greats). The modern blockbuster, by and large, a few exceptions aside, just can’t seem to capture the essential magic that makes you give a shit. It might have even been good if it had been Top Gun with giant mecha and monsters, but it wasn’t even that!

World War Z is getting better every day.

Permalink | Comments(0) | Posted by: Ian O'Rourke on 20/07/2013 Bookmark and Share
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