Pacific Rim isn’t what you think it is. It’s not simply an ode to Monster movies of the past or an attempt to recapture the gargantuan mecha genre that has been prolific in Japan since the likes of Go Nagai’s Mazinger Z in the 70′s.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Monster/Mech face-off has a lot more going on than the two genres of which could feasibly be credited with it’s genesis. And in spite of varying attempts to bring giant robo smashing action to the big screen (Transformers, 2007) or the failed US efforts at giant monsters (Godzilla, 1998) the genre to date hasn’t produced anything exceptional outside of either Anime or the rubber suited antics of Ishir? Honda’s Godzilla, last seen 9 years ago in ‘Final Wars’.
With an open void for the genre Guillermo Del Toro has saught to fill it. And fill it he has, with what in this writers opinion is the best giant monster movie we have ever seen.
Madness you say? Opinionated hubris from a rogue reviewer? Bollox to all that. Pacific Rim is the best monster smasher EVER! And here’s why:
6. It’s Simple, But That’s Okay
When Del Toro set out to make Pacific Rim off of Travis Beacham’s screen play it wasn’t as a social allegory or clever play on his politics, but more of a philosophical comment on what it means to be human. Which means the overarching plot of giant monsters and mecha’s beating the shit out of each other isn’t diluted by anything too smart to detract from the unimaginable joy of seeing two giant creatures fight in a city and quite literally rack up the collateral damage.
The underlying emphasis, the human story is a much simpler one, and while a touch convoluted and pumped full of necessary melodrama it’s still a potent little message, that isn’t so highbrow that viewers will have to strain to see it.
Sure, you’ve watched this movie to enjoy giant monster mashing mayhem. And you’ll get that in spades. But this is also a movie with a simple ethos: Working together helps us solve our problems and become bigger than ourselves as individuals. Which is particularly relevant when teamed in pairs as co-pilots of giant monster smashing Jaegers and psychically linked to one another through a concept called “Drifting”.
It’s a simple message, in a fairly un-complex film. About working together to lay the smack down on giant inter-dimensional kaiju? and maybe even saving the world in the process.
5. A New Take On A Classic
Paying homage to a genre that was predominantly populated by men in rubber suits and latter day Anime cartoons, the production team on Pacific Rim not only managed to create something incredibly unique, but also believable within the high concept fantasy context of the movie.
This genre has been done before and well, with post Godzilla anime’s such as Neon Genesis, Gundam, Ultraman and various other highly rated Japanese film fare available to fans who had yet to see the genre of ‘giant monsters/mecha’s’ elevated despite failed attempts with Roland Emmerich’ terrible 1998 Godzilla re-make and Peter Jackson’s well intentioned, but lacking 2005 King Kong.
Where Del Toro succeeds is in not only coming at the ‘giant monster’ genre with entirely fresh eyes, but creating an entirely feasible response to a monster incursion with the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. The director wanted to be “conscious of the heritage, but not a pastiche or an homage or a greatest hits of everything” concerning the genre he was in and so the design team including Wayne Barlowe, Oscar Chichoni, monster sculptors David Meng and Simon Lee, andHellboy II and The Hobbit designer Francisco Ruiz Velasco created something that was both visually unique and humanly relatable.
The Jaegers are instantly recognizable as culturally relevant riff’s on their eastern antecedents (U.S. Gipsy Danger is based on the shape of New York City’s Art Deco buildings, such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, but infused with John Wayne’s gunslinger gait and hip movements. Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, is based on the shape and paint patters of a T-series Russian tank, combined with a giant containment silo to give the appearance of a walking nuclear power plant with a cooling tower on its head) and the monsters look quite deliberately like CGI blokes in rubber suits, only in a good way. A Really good way.
With visual effects artists and award winners John Knoll and Hal T. Hickel from the illustrious ILM coupled with Legacy Effects ( Avatar, Iron Man 2, Avengers, Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 3, Snow White and the Huntsman) Iron Man armor creator Shane Mahan, Real Steel’s John Rosengrant and Oscar winner Clay Pinney, it’s hard to conceive how they couldn’t have.
Needless to say, in spite of this writers pet hate of CG in place of practical effects, there’s enough of a blend of both in Pacific Rim, with a calibre of such high regard talent, that it would be very hard to be disappointed in the final product. Which is both outlandish yet grounded while utterly jaw dropping to look at. When a city falls around giants in Pacific Rim, you believe it!Tags: godzilla, guillermo del toro, jaeger, kaiju, mecha, pacific rim