Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pacific Rim: This is Shit

Making movies is hard. Making compelling movies is really hard; and making a compelling film out of a robot/monster mashup must be impossible -- if it's not, Guillermo del Toro does his best to assure us that it is in his most recent movie, Pacific Rim.

The movie is about giant (like, two Godzillas tall) monsters that enter our world through a rift in the Pacific ocean, and how humans created the Jaegar program (the movie subtly reminds us that Jaegar is German for 'hunter'), basically Godzilla-sized robots to fight them. As humans discontinue the Jaegars for some reason, the last remaining pilots (rangers) launch a last-ditch effort to close the rift and save humanity.

Story: 1/5 - The movie gets a break for being about monsters fighting robots, but even with dulled expectations, the suspension of disbelief pact between us and the movie is totally shattered. As the robot is about to lose the fight, the pilot suddenly exclaims, 'Wait, we have one more weapon - a sword!' The monsters aren't magic or anything, they are flesh and blood - guns and missiles work. They could kill these things with bunker-buster missiles, and they never even try to explain to the audience why they don't. Why do they wait to attack the monsters until they are at a city? Why are the governments of earth set on discontinuing the Jaegar program, even as it is proved time and again the only effective way to deal with the threat? There is nothing addressing motive for any character or plot point.

Writing: 2/5 - Considering what the movie is, the writing isn't bad. It is very par-for-the course, with some decent comedy (I got a kick out of Ron Pearlman's dialogue) and cookie-cutter exchanges.

Acting: 3/5 - Based solely on Idris Elba, who is very convincing as the aging, conflicted commander of the Jaegar program. Charlie Day, of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, was exactly as expected - which made his scenes entertaining, if nothing else. Charlie Hunnam is solid, but I don't see him breaking from the mold he cast in Sons of Anarchy.

Aesthetics: 3/5 - Robots fighting monsters is cool, but neither del Toro nor cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (who was much more 'Spy Kids' than 'Pan's Labyrinth') make an effort to get us out of our seats with interesting shots.

Final Grade: 45%

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