Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Pacific Rim": the one-paragraph review

There I was in Alexandria, dog-sitting for my brother Sean on Friday evening, when I got a text from my other brother, David, at 6:42PM: "Yew wanna see Pacific Rimjob tewnite at 10:40?" Well, how could I say no to a rimjob? So I drove over to the AMC Hoffman Center multiplex (22 theaters!) and cadged a ticket from David for the IMAX 3-D version of the film. Having seen 3-D films before, I have to agree with the late, great Roger Ebert that adding a third dimension to the viewing experience adds nothing to one's enjoyment. It didn't help that "Pacific Rim" could be described in a single, not-very-flattering word: ponderous. I've seen positive reviews of the film that describe it as simultaneously smart and dumb; I'd have to say that the film was just dumb, and certainly not the best work I've seen from director Guillermo del Toro. "Pacific Rim" is the love child of "Cloverfield" and "Transformers," but with more phosphorescent snot and blood. The massive creatures attacking Earth, called kaiju in the Japanese monster-movie idiom, emerge from a rift deep in the Pacific Ocean, but are actually being portalled in from another universe by a malevolent hive mind that wants our planet for itself. Monster after monster appears, first singly, then in pairs, then in threes. In response to this building-stomping threat, humanity initiates the Jaeger program (Jaeger is German for "hunter"): giant, kaiju-sized robots that must be piloted by a pair of neurally connected ("drifting") crew members. Most of the movie depicts the various slugfests between the Jaeger and the kaiju; the battles start to run together after a while. The human drama, while scripted better than it was in the 1989 laugh riot "Robot Jox," doesn't offer much to chew on. And all the predictable tropes are in place: the dying leader who must sally forth one final time, the nerdy scientists who stumble upon a horrifying truth, etc. Aside from that, the movie seems to have an unhealthy fixation on nosebleeds, which signify too much mental strain. As with other blockbuster wannabes, "Pacific Rim" relies on nonsensical Hollywood physics (see my "Man of Steel" review), including the tried-and-true favorite: miraculously outrunning a nuclear blast. The story contains plenty of elements seen recently elsewhere: the alternate-universe setting from "The Avengers," the drop-a-nuke-in-the-hive plot (and the let's-mind-meld-with-aliens plot) from "Independence Day," the creatures reminiscent of the mad, doomed forest god from del Toro's own "Hellboy 2." View this film at your own risk. Its central, warm-fuzzy theme is supposedly about how we only succeed if we work together, but I think the Star Trek films teach that particular lesson in a more palatable, interesting way.


1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Nice review Kevin. I was able to believe that monsters and robots could fight all of the time, and I never got bored of it.