Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Case for Pacific Pugilism

The greatest movie ever!  Is not Pacific Rim.

Nah, I was never expecting his Gundam versus Godzilla special effects fest to be filled with Oscar winning performances or an innovative, creative screenplay.  I was expecting lots of giant beasties striding across the Pacific and only setting foot in major cities on the continents around the Rim, with the human-piloted Jaeger robots casusing almost as much mayhem and destruction as the creatures in their mission to save us all.  And on all these points, Pacific Rim delivered.

This film is incredibly stylish, perhaps not completely surprising considering it is Guillermo del Toro at the helm. 

He has selected an impressive cast of well know (if not necessarily A-list) celebrities to bring his boys toy story to life, including a lot of the cast of Sons of Anarchy (well, Ron Perlman had to be in his film, didn't he?), The Wire (Idris "Awesome" Elba) and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (likeable but also annoying Charlie Day).  There is one token female with a speaking part in there as well, and some spectaculary stereotyped Australians, Russians and Chinese, but this is about a good looking American lad Raleigh (the square jawed, charismatic and occasionally (pointlessly) shirtless Charlie Hunnan, though he is English from memory) saving the planet , backed up by a cast of international characters (including his "soul make" Mako, Rinko Kikuchi) who are good but not quite as good as him.

Unfortunately for them, this is not really a tale that is based on anything like character development or originality (some of the publicity said it was quite an original film, but maybe that is from people who have never seen Japanese anime, Voltron, or perhaps even Transformers), so its a shame when attempts to prove otherwise take a huge amount of time to unfold.  Traumatic childhoods, burgeoning love affairs, and humble origins are slowly, laboriously exposed and sometimes tediously so.  And some crucial plot points, like how a wall around the continents could possibly be less expensive and more protective than twenty mobile, weapons laded robots against the increasingly menacing alient threat is never really explained.

But then, logic was never really going to enter into this.  Just lots of explosions, destruction and gross out moments.  And in 3D, these are all particularly impressive.

Overall then, the film flags a bit at times whenever there are humans running around attempting to be funny, but when the robots are going full throttle, ripping through beasties and cities alike, everything else is pretty much forgotten.

Verdict: Pacific Rim is a big budget bash fest, with a human cast to try and bring some levity and love to proceedings, but they more or less fail.  Logic also takes a back seat to the usual conventions to these kinds of films, which would be fine if they didn't allow you to dwell on it for so long.  No matter.  Pacific Rim delivers what the box and posters promise.  I wouldn't count on there being a sequel, but then again, you never know...

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