Pacific Rim

tn_pacificrimDISCLAIMER (skip if you don’t give a shit): I haven’t reviewed Guillermo Del Toro’s movies since 2004, when Drew McWeeny got him to write a blurb for a book I self-published (later used by Titan on my other books). I never met or e-mailed the guy but it was a harsh, self-imposed rule to avoid any perception of being easier on his movies because of that connection, or worse, actually doing that. But I decided I want to write about PACIFIC RIM anyway. Maybe it was just a 9 year rule.

Since I haven’t reviewed them all here’s where I stand on Del Toro: been a fan since MIMIC. BLADE 2 is my favorite, followed by the three Spanish language movies in reverse chronological order. I enjoy the HELLBOYs but don’t love ’em. The second one frustrated me because it has many flashes of brilliance but doesn’t all come together for me. I like the movies he produces, also.

* * *

After wasting years almost directing THE HOBBIT and not directing AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, Guillermo Del Toro finally actually got something on film and released on Friday, and it’s also his first real big budget movie. The HELLBOYs were pricey for him and tried to compete with the big boys of summer, but this is the first time he’s been allowed to do one of these movies they do now where it’s so expensive that if it doesn’t do better than almost all movies do starting on day 1 then it’s considered a disaster.

So I look forward to his long career of doing smaller movies for now on. Sideshows instead of tentpoles. But hey, we all got something good out of it: a big, fun sci-fi epic inspired by the old Godzilla pictures and the Japanese animation with the people driving the giant robots. PACIFIC RIM takes place in a weirdly-not-supposed-to-be-that-far-off future where giant monsters have started to crawl out of a big hole in the ocean, waddle out and attack the cities. As you can imagine this is a pain in the ass, so all the nations had to start working together and come up with a plan, which was to build these giant robots called “Jaegers” (I don’t know how the Germans got naming rights). Each requires two hotshot pilots whose thoughts merge (it’s called “drifting” as a tribute to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 3) to control the thing, and they go out there and punch some monsters and shoot missiles and shit.

mp_pacificrimThis story takes place at a time when the war against the monsters is not going so well, and our hero Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is washed up. The war turned 5 years ago when his Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, was defeated, and his brother/co-pilot didn’t survive. He’s doing the best paying dangerous job he can get in this world (working construction at the top of a monster-stopping wall in Alaska) when his old boss (Idris Elba) comes to recruit him for One Last Mission before the government shuts down the whole outdated Jaeger program.

Alot of the movie is a ROBOTJOX meets TOP GUN type story about these hotshots in the “Shatterdome” base in Hong Kong, feuding and trying to earn their spots in the robots and find their ideal partners. Meanwhile there are these two wacky comic relief scientist characters (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) bickering over competing theories about the rising number of monster attacks and what needs to be done about them. The plan is to try dumping a big ass bomb in “the Breach” that the monsters come out of, but Day’s character has an interesting idea for how to improve their chances (it involves dealing with a black market monster-organs dealer played by Del Toro’s DeNiro Ron Perlman).

There’s a cool underdog aspect where Raleigh is only involved because they want to throw every old piece of shit robot they have left at this mission, but then it turns out to have an unforeseen advantage just from being an older generation of robot. I wish they would’ve played it up in the designs, though. I get no idea looking at it that it’s supposed to be a different type of robots from the others. They’re all pretty cool robots, though. Not overly complicated like the Transformers and not as off-brand-toy looking as the Real Steels.

The idea of the robots requiring dual pilots seems kind of contrived at first, but it works because it forces these characters to learn to get along and use teamwork. The most interesting character is aspiring Robotjock Mako (Rinko Kikuchi from BABEL and SIDEWAYS [Japanese remake]), who has to prove herself to become Raleigh’s co-pilot, and overcome some hangups and what not. And there is a feeling that they could fall in love or whatever but it never really happens, so instead you just have this story about teamwork and partnership, and that’s pretty cool.

Max Martini from REDBELT is also in here, always good to see him. He plays Australian, causing me to think “Wait a minute, he wasn’t Australian all along, was he?” I was also a little confused because I somehow missed where they said he was his co-pilot’s dad. He doesn’t look that much older (turns out he’s 14 years older) and at one point I mistook some family bonding emotion for “oh shit, are they gonna kiss?” That’s how slow I am sometimes. Would’ve been kinda cool though. I never saw that in one of these movies before.

The main attraction is obviously the scenes where the robots fight the monsters, which are enjoyable and probly the best CGI giant monster and/or robot fights so far. There are lots of cool weapons hidden inside the robots, the monsters get chopped up, there are a couple good gags of things that get smashed or used as weapons. It’s the kind of thing I always enjoy.

My internetical colleagues have anointed this a landmark in my beloved category of the Big Summer Popcorn Movie. I’m not sure I’m as sold on it as them, at least on one viewing. I would put it more on the level of other movies I’ve enjoyed this summer than with TERMINATOR 2, JURASSIC PARK, DARK KNIGHT and stuff like that. Maybe it’s my high expectations. I was way more excited for Del Toro to do Toho than Tolkein or Lovecraft. Usually he does his own thing, he’s kind of a weird idiosyncratic arthouse horror director, and then sometimes he takes these stabs at injecting his freaky blood into something more pop. I know it’s his only for-hire movie (and PAN’S LABYRINTH is hard to top), but to me BLADE 2 is his best because it’s such a perfect marriage of his weird obsessions and unique talents with a ferociously entertaining mainstream type of movie. It’s a fun, badass, action-packed comic book horror movie but with his weird monsters, humor, groundbreaking practical/digital hybrid effects, and even an operatic kind of tragedy with the villains. Just an all time great movie. So when I know the guy that directed BLADE 2 is doing a big budget giant monster movie I figure that’s gotta be The Ultimate Giant Monster Movie.

Well, it’s a really good one, with a clever new presentation of the monsters and robots. But I’ve been around the block and I’ve seen some of the giant monster pictures and I believe this is missing alot of the qualities that I enjoy about the genre.

In a Godzilla picture, part of the fun is seeing the monster stomping through cities, swatting away jets, picking up tanks, eating trains, shit like that. That aspect is minimal in this movie because that would’ve happened a long time ago, before the robots.

I was bummed to read a piece calling this the most exciting summer movie since INDEPENDENCE DAY, because I consider that only to be a benchmark for the acceptance of poor quality summer movies, not an old classic to live up to. But one thing INDEPENDENCE DAY had that PACIFIC RIM doesn’t is the disaster movie fun of seeing the creatures wreck various recognizable parts of the world. PACIFIC RIM avoids that. One scene was supposed to be Seattle, but I didn’t spot any landmarks. In another a monster approaches the Sydney Opera House, but he lets it be. A lover of culture, maybe.

(I assume we’ll get some of that stuff in the upcoming GODZILLA movie, but I have some concerns that that one’s gonna go the “the original GOJIRA was about Hiroshima and Nagasaki so ours has to be about 9-11 and bum everybody out” route.)

In place of monster attacks we get monster vs. robot fights, which is better. But you know me, I got some complaints about the fight scenes. Don’t get me wrong – they are fun, and compared to the TRANSFORMERSes they’re clear as water. But I think they could’ve been clearer. In fact my biggest complaint of the movie by far is that all of the monster fights take place at night. Late in the movie it looks like the sun is finally coming up… and they immediately go underwater.

To make matters worse, it’s always raining. I appreciate that now they can add more detail than could be done with models and rubber suits, but you gotta know when to simplify things to make the image more powerful. For that matter, they coulda gotten to the city alot earlier. I know the Godzilla movies start out with fights in the water, but they shoulda watched some of those and remembered how boring it is and get to the good shit faster.

I’m almost done I swear but I can think of two other things that muddy up the fights a little. 1, the camera is always close to the monsters. This really shows how huge they are, so I get it, but if they occasionally pulled back to get both combatants in frame it would bring more impact to the moves. 2, because they got these humans inside the robots you never see more than a blow or two before they cut to the robot interior. There should be at least one fight where they trust the physicality of the robot to express that there are humans inside so the action can flow unbroken. We remember they’re in there, and it’s not like we can see much of their faces through their helmets anyway. Give us a continuous fight, in my opinion.

Now, this is gonna be considered heretical in some circles, and I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I gotta question Del Toro’s monsters in this one. They just aren’t distinctive enough in my opinion. They’re cool, they look like some of Gamera’s opponents, and I like ’em better than the SUPER 8 monster and stuff, but I definitely couldn’t pick ’em out in a lineup. Think about all the monsters from the Godzilla movies, and you might not know their names, but you could describe them: the giant white moth, the pterodactyl type thing, the three-headed gold dragon, the round guy with the spikey shell. PACIFIC RIM even says at the beginning that they’re all supposed to look different from each other, but for the most part (at least from pretty close, looking up, at night, in the rain) they’re hard to tell apart.

More importantly, the monsters are all mindless bad guys. In the best of this genre part of the fun is rooting for the monster. Godzilla and Gamera quickly turned into good guys protecting the humans or the earth from attacking monsters. Even when they’re attacking us though they have personality. Sometimes it’s funny that they’re angry, there’s a sense that we kinda deserve it, or at least that they don’t deserve it when they get killed at the end. There is a nobility to Godzilla, a respect for him as a unique animal. In the American version of GODZILLA 1985 the monster is the bad guy, but when he dies, violins play and Raymond Burr does a voiceover about how tragic it is. Most of the humans might see him as a monster, but the hero sees what the others don’t, and the solutions to their problems usually hinge on understanding the monster’s motives. He’s just trying to do this, so we have to do this.

This is why these monsters are so beloved, so it’s weird that Chief Monster Lover Del Toro makes his just be interchangeable, roaring punching bags. Where is the sensibility of HELLBOY II, where Hellboy kills the giant nature spirit and its corpse grows into beautiful plants and we’re like jeez Hellboy, whose side are you on, killing this guy? I guess that just doesn’t fit into the robot-monster-fighters concept, but that’s why I feel like there’s a missing dimension.

I actually thought Del Toro was gonna go another way with these PACIFIC RIM monsters. There’s that great concept of how the wacky kaiju expert guy Tokyo drifts with the monster brain, but they become connected so a monster comes after him. Del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham (CLASH OF THE TITANS remake that only I liked) did what they wanted to do but man I would’ve loved it if it had a twist where the monster wasn’t trying to eat him, it had actually bonded with him and the scientist would (if not ride around on it and be its little friend, which would be the best option) have some control over it and make it fight the other monsters. This becomes a possibility again when the baby monster is born (my favorite scene). Plenty of opportunity for human-monster friendship. I know Harry and some of these guys can name off all the monsters, but I don’t believe they could’ve done that without studying trading cards. I think the movie itself could’ve established them better.

Some of the rave reviews have compared PACIFIC RIM to STAR WARS (never a good comparison to make, ’cause nothing lives up to it, it’s kinda like the reverse of making a Nazi analogy in a political argument). By that I think they mean it’s got this whole lived-in world with a history and mythology and worn out technology. And that’s cool, but imagine if STAR WARS started out with 5 minutes of montage of Luke telling you the whole history of the war and what X-wings and The Force and light sabers and Jedis are. I think it could’ve had more impact if they did follow the STAR WARS route and drop you into the world and explain all this shit through the story.

(And by the way, who is he narrating to? Why would he have to explain the last 15 years of regular every day life? How does he know we’re watching? I feel like even just using the images without the voiceover they could get most of that backstory across without it feeling like its taking an infodump on your lap.)

But these are all nitpicks, nothing seriously detrimental to my enjoyment. All I’m arguing is that it’s not THE BEST movie. It’s a good one, though. This might be the third movie this summer that I go to see a second time. And while I’ve just listed many reasons why I don’t think the movie transcends or tops its genre there is one very important aspect where it stands out: you don’t necessarily get bored of the human characters and just wait for the monsters to show up. I’m not gonna claim these are deep characters, but I do think their story is more involving than the humans in most giant monster movies, which are often just people in regular lab coats or military uniforms standing in labs or war rooms talking. Or reporters standing in a clearing somewhere watching the monster smash something in the distance.

With this in mind, I have decided to join the human team against the monsters. You shouldn’t have messed with us, monsters. Go back to whatever Breach you crawled out of before we robot you in the ass.

* * *

additional notes:

1. Oh shit, this is gonna start while Obama’s still in office? I don’t feel ready yet.
2. Am I crazy, or was RZA doing a British accent on that end credits song? Is he rapping as Idris Elba or something?
3. I like the international force. But if the second monster attacked Khabul why can’t we get a few Arabs in here?
4. We coulda used more of the Ivan Drago contingent too, they looked funny.
5. Man, I wish in the hole at the end the robot could’ve given ’em a taste of their own medicine, gone in and smashed some weird bug-alien buildings! Not because I thirst for revenge (an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind) but because I never seen any shit like that. To this day.
6. Since this is not a straightahead action movie I am not giving it an ACR, but it would be somewhere in the upper-mid-range. Closeup giant action, darkness, mild transformersism in climax only. No shakiness issues or Michael Bay type editing.

3D comments: I saw it in the fake 3D. It was not particularly bad or good 3D. Since the monsters and robots are all 3D models they look better than some converted 3D. It is possible that seeing it 2D could alleviate some of the problems with it taking place at night, but I doubt it would make that much of a difference.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013 at 11:27 am and is filed under Monster, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

202 Responses to “Pacific Rim”

  1. I was honestly a little shocked as to how annoying the scientists were. I wanted to fucking shoot myself any time they were on screen, being “hilarious.”

  2. Vern, you national treasure. The one reviewer i know who shouldn’t ever need to put up a disclaimer as to his own integrity.

  3. Mako’s memory sequence was far and away the highlight of the film for me. That was Del Toro magic right there.

  4. “I wish they would’ve played it up in the designs, though. I get no idea looking at it that it’s supposed to be a different type of robots from the others. ”
    Really? I got enough distinctiveness out of them. It was clear to me that Gipsy Danger, Typhoon and the Australian One were all much more advanced and stylised than the Russian’s robot, which made sense as it was a first generation model, and that all the robots we saw had different sort of fighting roles. Gispy Danger was basically an all round combat type, Typhoon was melee, the Australian One was a tank etc. and whenever we cut to inside, you could see the cockpits and interfaces were all different in design.

    I’m glad myself that the monsters aren’t made sympathetic, as it would ruin the fun a bit to have to be bummed out about it. But also with there being multiple monsters, they couldn’t really do that properly with all of them and have it not become tedious.

    “5. Man, I wish in the hole at the end the robot could’ve given ‘em a taste of their own medicine, gone in and smashed some weird bug-alien buildings! Not because I thirst for revenge (an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind) but because I never seen any shit like that. To this day.”
    Well one logical way to take a sequel(If we get one. Fuckin’ Adam Sandler) would be the Jaeger program taking the fight to the other dimension.

    “taking an infodump on your lap”

  5. I enjoyed this. Yes the story is blockbuster autopilot and I wished we had gotten better cast interplay outside of the scientists and Ron fucking Perlman. Also the storypoint of the Jaeger program getting cancelled has to be the most fucking convenient plot device of this summer. (I will disagree with the criticism at the acting. They’re doing pretty much what the movie demanded of them. If they still came up short for you, blame the script.)

    But I do admire this as terrific science fiction, firing up my imagination with the thought put into the technology behind these Jaegers and the Drifting and all that. Guys like Bay (and yes, Zack Snyder) just get off on mayhem porn which usually leave me indifferent and bored. GDT semeed more intrigued by the idea of a world where giant monsters and robots fighting is an everyday fact of life and culture. I mean what if that really did happen? Not that he went necessarily anal about realism like Nolan can be, but he was Nolan-esque in trying to flesh out this concept. I respect that. Plus I felt the fights were nicely paced, even if one does wonder how 2 robots get whooped fighting one monster while 1 robot wins, but nevermind.

    I wished the characters were as memorable or interesting as that above, but it’s still functional enough just to get the spectacle machine rolling, like WORLD WAR Z. (Honestly the only real memorable character was Perlman, also focus of maybe the movie’s best scene.) But I suppose I should be glad the humanity in this movie isn’t obnoxious or mean-spirited as it can be in Bay’s filmography.

    This is good, worth seeing on the big screen. Better than MOS.

  6. Great review, Vern. Although I didn’t mind the monsters’ similarity so much; they were supposed to all be very closely related. And also related to dinosaurs, which let’s face it there’s a bunch of those that are kind of hard to tell apart too.

    Here’s my review:


  7. Stu – Wasn’t Gipsy Danger supposed to be the oldest one, since all the others were digital and stopped working? It was the only one that was nuclear, right? I just think it would be cool if it looked way older and clunkier than the others.

  8. Great review Vern. I had a similar reaction. It was great spectacle and a good time at the movies, but I would not consider it a new classic or even the best movie of the summer (FURIOUS 6 is still holding that title).

  9. I do wish that the Russian and Chinese pilots were fleshed out more. None of them had any dialog, except the Russian woman while piloting her robot. They had plenty of opportunity in the mess hall and hanger scenes, it could have been like the early Marine scenes in ALIENS, bust each others balls, show some sort of quick character development so that we would care if and when they died later. Maybe the Russians were stand-off-ish … maybe the Chinese were loners and only bonded in their triplet-ness…

    I would have also liked to see more variety from the kaiju, just like the Japanese originals, but I don’t think that was what Del Toro was going for since they were all bio-engineered from the same DNA with just enough change to tell them apart more than the Transformer movies. “That said” (Harry speak), there was major difference between the crab kaiju or the knife head kaiju in the flashbacks to the gorilla-like kaiju, but some kaiju near the end started blending together with their slender bodies and tentacles and fangs, etc., but a lot of that also had to with close-up shots, being in darkness, etc.

  10. this will surprise no one, but I fucking LOVED this movie, LOVED IT, if I may use a Harry Knowles style metaphor, this movie hit my cinematic G-spot and brought me to movie orgasm

    this movie captured the look and feel of anime the best of any movie I’ve seen (including SPEED RACER), finally after years of you comic book nerds getting to see your Iron Mans, Supermans and [REDACTED] brought to life on the big screen, finally I got to see some fucking giant robots!

    seeing this baby in IMAX 3D (which I would have been fine with it being 2D, but the 3D was thankfully well done) was thing a of beauty

    I’m gonna list a few things that makes this movie great, in my opinion

    1. my favorite movies all have one thing in common, they create cool worlds beyond the movie itself, ones that have the potential for many more stories or are just places you wish you could visit, JURASSIC PARK, GHOSTBUSTERS, TERMINATOR, ALIENS, BLADE RUNNER, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, INDIANA JONES, those are all examples of that and PACIFIC RIM has it in spades, the attention to detail in the world building, such as people living among the bones of dead Kaiju, scavenging dead Kaijus for body parts to sell, toys of the Jaegers and Kaiju, that Japanese guy on some tv show pretending to be frightened by someone in a Kaiju suit, all that stuff really brings the world to life and it’s a world I would like to see more of (FUCK YOU Adam Sandler)

    2. the visuals in the movie are incredible, it’s a gorgeous looking movie, the color palette, the design of everything, so many movies these days, even some good ones, have just this flat, grey, digital look that’s extremely bland looking, but PACIFIC RIM has visuals that kinda look like something you’d see in the 90’s and it’s a visual style I’ve always wished you saw more of today, I mean man, it’s like Del Toro made this movie with me in mind specifically

    3. the special effects are breath taking and that means a lot because it goes beyond the technical aspects of CGI, so many movies these days have highly detailed CGI, but lack character (like the TRANSFORMERS), Del Toro has a special talent, same as Peter Jackson, of breathing life into CGI creatures, I mean you could almost SMELL the Kaiju and the Jaegers had a weight and gravity to them that made them feel believable, Del Toro is also not afraid to use some real sets, like the interiors of the Jaegers, that also grounds things in reality

    4. Charlie Day was fucking hilarious, I gotta watch that IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA show sometime

    in conclusion, I think I may have found a new favorite

  11. Vern- No, Gipsy Danger was a Mark-3, while the Russian one, “Cherno Alpha”, was a Mark-1, making it older, and also nuclear(it’s stated that the acid that gets spat at them is eating through to its nuclear core). The fact Gipsy Danger was nuclear was only brought up after the Kaiju had taken the Russians out and then caused the electronics blackout fighting the Australians. If it’d done that earlier, Cherno Alpha would have been disabled too.

  12. Ummm…doesn’t Star Wars start with an even more literal info dump?

    Also, hellboy killing the tree spirit is one of the most amazing visuals I have ever seen.

  13. I liked this movie a lot, but I didn’t love it. I wanted a movie a out the wacky scientists bonding with the kaiju and using it to fight. Or about the black market trade or whatever.

    The world of this movie rules and if they make a sequel, I think I’d like that one better.

    My sequel pitch:

    The world is free of kaiju, but the new culture still demands kaiju flesh and organs for medicine, tech, sexual aids and so on. The black market kaiju business is worth so much that someone creates a submarine to go down to the dimensional rift and sneak through to steal kaiju parts. This reopens the rift.

    Alternately, we clone kaiju for their parts and for entertainment — after the war ends, people miss watching kaiju fights and so some enterprising soul fixes up a jaeger or two and clones some baby kaiju to fight in blood sport.

    In this one, the captured, cloned kaiju become sympathetic. And then you have Charlie day come back to save the kaiju because his mindmeld lets him feel their pain or some such thing.

    Meanwhile, the governments of the world are all becoming a bit uneasy, without monsters to fight against, there is nothing to unite them and human-on-human war is quickly approaching once more. The nations who still have jaegers begin to use them on human cities as a tool of aggression and imperialism.

    So, the human who has bonded with his/her (her, please!) kaiju must break it out of the blood sport cage and use it to fight off the evil imperialistic jaegers.

    I don’t think I can type fluidly enough on my iPhone to explain this, but basically — a cloned kaiju used in blood sports who has been trained by a human / melded with a human, must escape their world of blood sport and rise up to save the city/ country from a foreign human invasion of imperialist war Mongerers who use jaegers as both a weapon and a piece of propaganda.

  14. Oh, the blood sport jaegers are much smaller and only fight baby kaiju. But this makes the babju more sympathetic because its a fucking baby that has been genetically engineered to die violently for cheap entertainment.

  15. Can you make it so that the blood sport Jaegers are piloted by characters played by Scott Adkins and Jean Claude Van Damme(who also mo-cap for the Jaeger’s themselves)?

  16. Had only a few issues with this one (Charlie Day, Boy was that Cat 5 Kaiju disappointing), but the 2 Kaijus attacking Hong Kong was awesome. The BEST film I’ve seen this year and I am ready to stand by this as a future Classic.

    Anyone here seen MIMIC: The Director’s Cut? Always wondered what new changes are in there.

  17. The Original... Paul

    July 15th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I’m shocked that this thing is so well-liked. Another case of “you can’t judge the movie by the trailer” I guess. Then again, my impression from that trailer was they HAD to appeal to the casual audience, which means teens with plenty of pocket money. The kind of audience that wouldn’t necessarily mind a few cliches.

    Up until this point, my four favorite movies this year have been:

    1) A black and white Shakespeare adaptation filmed in eleven days by my favorite professional nerd and a bunch of actors that I know from various TV shows.
    2) A “talker” about a middle-aged couple travelling around Greece, visiting friends, and trying to resolve their marital problems.
    3) A Korean horror movie starring American actors (I think?) and set in small-town USA.
    4) A Romeo and Juliet story about a girl and her zombie.

    What I’m getting at is there’s a distinct lack of ultraviolence in that list right there. I’m about to pop “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” into the DVD player so maybe that will change.

    Yeah… I really liked “Furious 6” and the first three-quarters of “Django”… but for the most part the action movies this year on the whole haven’t really “done it” for me in the way that, say, last year’s “The Raid” did. (Of course that’s a really really really high bar to set.) I’ll try and see “Pacific Rim” some time this week and post a comment or two.

  18. The Original... Paul

    July 15th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    And Felix, I don’t know what version of Mimic I saw. I don’t have it on DVD so I’ve basically only watched it when it’s been on TV.

  19. Maybe a to government or wouldbe war lord (hey, don’t we have a character named Hannibal Kahn?) wrests control of the jaegers and uses them for a large scale power play in Japan, which is still in ruins after the first film, so the protagonists have to fight their way through a war torn city to steal a submarine and blow the rift back open.

    Then, the human/kaiju team – who has been having epic battles with the warlords jaegers throughout the city as the jaeger tries to destroy every region where the heroes on the ground could get a tool to blow the rift open – have to team up against the new kaiju from the rift. The kaiju are too strong, so the warlords jaeger drivers sacrifice themselves close the rift while the human/kaiju team make a last ditch effort to defeat the remaining kaiju.

    At the end, we have a human/ kaiju team that would function as a Godzilla style defender of earth.

  20. The movie wasn’t perfect, but the visuals were spectacular. It had some neat ideas, the fights were really cool, and it was just a joy to watch. I did like the variety between the robots(each did have a distinctive design that sorta showed what their role/style was) and the kaiju(I could tell most of them apart, not all of them though), and I like the idea of the world in general, this sort of thing being just a regular, day to day thing for people, with people exploiting the sale of kaiju parts, making toys of them and the jaegers, going on talk shows talking about them,etc, in a level that even most of the Godzilla movies never did.

    As for complaints:
    1)I too would have liked to see at least one full fight take place in full daylight, on a clear day. The night fights were shot clearly enough to still be awesome, but a day fight woulda been incredible, and yeah, more city fighting than ocean fighting woulda been cool(though it does make sense-you’d want to try to keep kaiju AWAY from cities as much as possible)
    2)I fucking hated the scientists. I was truly hoping Ron Perlman(who was awesome) would kill Charlie Day, or that later on, Gipsy Danger would NOT get there in time to save him. I consider “It’s Always Sunny…” to be absolute garbage and Day is no better here.
    3)I too would have liked to see the Russian and Chinese pilots fleshed out more, more interaction between the various pilots and such, like the Aliens comparison some mentioned above.

  21. No. That should be three groups. The warlord – the kaiju/human – the people blowing open the rift.

    The folks blowing open the rift should be members of the cult that worships the kaiju corpses. They see the kaijus as the rapture and humans returning to our old ways seems worse than a world ruled by kaiju. So, they are trying to get a bomb and a submarine and blow open the rift.

    The kaiju/human and the warlord jaegers battle it out in Japan until the cultists open up the rift, then they have to team up to stop the new kaijus.

  22. The jaeger pilots are also Japanese and are sold on the idea by the warlord because this is Japan’s one chance to be an independent nation again instead of being colonized by the west. Or maybe they are Korean and want to take over Japan to protect Korea from Japan’s history of aggression. Though, that might be too political.

    And then in the end the jaeger pilots learn that humanity is more important than nationality.

    You could also have something cool with the pilots disagreeing inside the cockpit.

  23. Vern, I dug the movie, and while I’m glad you did too, I’m kind of surprised for a couple reasons:

    1) We never quite a good look at any of the monsters. As you allude to in your review, they’re all dimly lit and too big for the frame. To me there was only one monster type – a big-headed hammerhead shark thing with multiple eyes and maybe multiple limbs. I would give the movie a pretty low ACR, and I’m someone who thought Die Hard 5 was fine.

    2) I know you don’t like Independence Day, but this movie is basically an unauthorized remake. Idris Elba’s apocalypse-cancelling war speech that triggers applause is basically the same scene as Bill Pullman’s Independence Day-celebrating war speech that triggers applause. The discovery of the alien’s invasion plan by mind-melding with a lab specimen is the same. The almost-suicidal Trojan-horse journey into the rift is basically the same as Goldblum’s & Smith’s almost-suicidal Trojan-horse journey into the alien mothership – even the aliens with big diamond-shaped heads watching from their little control rooms looked the same. I genuinely expected our heroes to upload a computer virus that created an 8-bit laughing Jolly Roger.

    I guess the question to ask is what this movie does right that that one did wrong, since it’s almost the same film from top to tail. I suspect the fact that this one is more multinational and less jingoistically US-centric might help, but what else makes this one work better for you?

  24. * Sorry (again). Really bad at writing posts it seems.

    Anyway, yes! A lot of reviewers and friends have been geeking out over this movie and for good reasons I guess. It’s a big budget sci-fi action film that isn’t a sequel, remake or reboot. But yeah, didn’t do it for me, mainly for the reasons Vern highlights.

    Apart from the Hong Kong battle, where there were two pretty different monsters and they were in two different areas, I really couldn’t tell any of the monsters apart from each other.

    And totally agree on the climax, after a big battle in Hong Kong where it’s raining at night, they set the last fight underwater at night

    Being an Aussie, having two characters that are supposed to be Aussie but have terrible fake Aussie accents really kinda takes you out of the movie a bit. Even QT’s admirably attempt in Django was pretty good but still not quite right and was distracting. Producers, please just hire Aussie actors or don’t have Aussie characters in your movie

  25. Tawdry – after writing this I saw a review where Del Toro said the prologue was his live action version of a Star Wars crawl. But the Star Wars crawl doesn’t explain what the Force and Jedis and stuff are. This prologue explains there are these monsters, here’s where they came from, here’s what we did, we made these things called Jaegers, here’s how they work, etc. It’s not the worst sin I just think all that stuff would be cooler if it came out in the context of the story instead of a SOUTHLAND TALES style list of ideas.

  26. Paul – Or you could you know, give PR a chance.

    Vern – I wouldn’t be shocked if that prologue was a post-production addition because some dumbasses in test screenings didn’t understand or something. But if that was intentional, then I do have to agree with your criticism, though I must admit that after that clunky beginning, the world building went layer upon layer of each other in the narrative process of which you prefer.

  27. Bender- Now you know how I feel all the time when Aussies end up playing Americans!

  28. The Original... Paul

    July 16th, 2013 at 12:41 am

    RRA, from my last post:

    “I’ll try and see “Pacific Rim” some time this week and post a comment or two.”

    It was tucked away near the bottom.

  29. My amor for Guillermo del Toro es infinito.

  30. The Mighty Blue Spoon of Justice

    July 16th, 2013 at 3:10 am

    That “scientist” character is indeed an infuriating, insufferable bag of crud, but that is deliberate – it’s because he was directly if unofficially based on Jar Jar Abrams. Complete with that Abrams look of Woody Allen crossed with a mental patient… okay, the two are often synonymous, so perhaps “Woody Allen crossed with a rabid squirrel” fits better.

  31. Don’t blame Adam Sandler. Blame it not being based on a comic book character or a sequal. Maybe if they make another one they will want to get The Rock in it.

  32. For all the people who felt anoyed at the scientist played by Charles Day, know that the way he played the character was to do a very accurate imitation of JJ Abrams.

    So for any of you who ever wanted to know what’s like to meet JJ and be in the same room with him, irf you saw the movie now you know.

  33. As for the giant robots having a technical german name, i find that cool. At least this movie shows more imagination then the usual american-centric blockbuster where everything carters to american culture. It truly help sells the notion that the Jaeger program is an international cooperation.

    And Jaeger is a the german word for “hunter”, and i think it sounds cooler then the english word, no offence.

    This also means that the first Parker novel in german is called “Der Jaeger”.

  34. Vern- Thinking about it though, shouldn’t Luke already have at least heard of The Force and Jedi? We know from the movies that people in the time of A New Hope knew about the Force since they say “May The Force Be With You” as a general expression of wishing people luck, while you’d think the Jedi would still be a matter of public record, even if only as a propaganda along the lines of “The Jedi were monsters who were going to take over the Republic, but thank The Emperor for crushing them with his righteous might!”.

  35. This is my own fan-wanking explanation, but I think there are two factors there. One is that Uncle Owen wanted to keep Luke as far away from all that Jedi shit as possible so it probably wasn’t discussed in the household growing up. And it’s not like Luke had a ton of people to talk to. Second, information is power, so I’d imagine that the Empire would have done their best to both erase the Jedi from the public record and to oppress the practicing of their ways, since that would be a threat to them. I’m pretty sure we only hear the Rebels say “May the Force be with you,” which makes sense because they would be the only ones keeping the ideals of the Old Republic alive.

    By the way: nerdiest thing I’ve ever written. And there’s been a LOT of competition.

  36. The SW nerdgasms is truly something to behold!
    It also means that if JJ Abrams screws, he’s fucked! The SW fandom is hardly as forgiving as the trekkies.

  37. To be more specific, the SW fandom hates everything, so doesn’t matter what Abrams does, he is screwed anyway.

  38. The Original... Paul

    July 16th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Just throwing this out… “Jaegar” is also a fashion outlet that sells smart and “business-casual” clothing here in the UK.

    Whether that has any relevance to giant robots or not is for you guys to decide.

  39. Please tell me that there is a “Jäger bomb” pun in this movie.

  40. I didn’t die – just haven’t had the time or heart to continue our discussion seriously yet.

    I thought the monsters in the first Hellboy were over-designed, and Hellboy 2 is the first and only movie I’ve ever fallen asleep to in the theater. Still, I liked Pan’s Labyrinth.

    I hope with GODZILLA that they do all the shots wide & clear, so that we can feel what it would really be like – ie. no CGI-helicopter shots as the great lizard rises from the ocean, perfectly detailing his weird back plates. On the other side of the coin I don’t want it to be like Cloverfield either.

  41. I sure hope the new GODZILLA is better than that awful 1998 one, that was probably one of the worst movies I saw in theaters as a kid

    yeah, it maybe had an ok action sequence or two, but it was filled with that trademark Emmerich “dopiness” that permeates everything he does, it always feels like he assumes his audience are total idiots and it shows in the movies he makes, even as a kid I thought it was annoying (and if an 8 year old thinks your movie is too stupid, you have problems)

    yeah, I watched ID4 on video a couple of times as a kid and enjoyed it, but I was a little younger then and my tastes weren’t as refined, as the years went on it was never a movie I had any interest in re-watching, even to this day

  42. To be honest, I still think Emmerich’s Godzilla is the perfect Americanisation of the series (at least the silly sequels): Some cool city destruction (only with better FX) and lots and lots of scenes with boring humans, talking about boring shit.

  43. The Original... Paul

    July 16th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Well that was my longest post for a while: https://outlawvern.com/2012/11/03/universal-soldier-day-of-reckoning/#comment-3011443

    Just watched Unisol: Day of Reckoning. I’ve written a long spoiler-filled post about what I thought was both good and bad about it, with a “conclusion” at the very end for anybody who doesn’t fancy reading the whole thing. This was a movie that was discussed at great length in the comments, but a lot of what I thought were the most interesting things about it seem to have been barely mentioned. If anybody fancies an extremely late debate about that one, feel free.

    I mention this here because, as usual, I’m about a year later than everybody else in terms of seeing the movie (seriously, I don’t know how you guys manage it, I go to the cinema at least once or twice a week and I can’t keep up with half of youse!)

  44. Dtroyt – fair point.

    Though, even as an Aussie myself, I think a bad American accent still sounds better than a bad Aussie one

  45. I loved this movie. So much fun. The fight scene in the city is definitely the best one, I love when we see the giant Bot standing there wondering where the monster is, and it tears through a building on its right and attacks the Bot, that was some straight up Robot Jox meets Cloverfield type shit right there.

  46. Stu, Majestyk: After the Great Jedi Purge, the populace was so bombarded with anti-Jedi propaganda and so fearful of Imperial intelligence organisations such as COMPNOR and the Inquisitorius that they were afraid of even mentioning the Jedi. Also, one of the main tasks of the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) was to wipe out all memories of the Jedi Order. That, combined with Lars Owen’s desire to keep Luke away from the Jedi and the Rebellion, make it highly likely that Luke would know little of the Jedi Order or the Living Force.

    But the real explanation is that Uncle George doesn’t care that much about continuity.

  47. CJ:

    Pacific Rim 2 will be called “Atlantic Rim” and the German jaeger will be code named “Jager Meister”

  48. If only there was a bar or liquor store destroyed during one of the battles, some character could have said “Not even the Yuenglings survived.”

    Also, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thought that scientist character looked like JJ Abrams, even though I’ve seen a picture of Abrams maybe twice in my life.

    I also don’t know how I recognized John Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski as being similar to John Milius (nor indeed why filmmakers put these in-joke doppelgangers in their movies).

  49. asimolives – on the scientist/Abrams connection, is that a fact or just your observation? I’m intrigued.

    As for Abrams/SW, I think you guys are underestimating the Internet. After the prequels, I bet the Internet will be kind to Episode 7. Overrate it of course as they did his STAR TREK movies, but it’ll be decent watchable enough to placate people’s bitchings over those prequels. This is why Disney hired him instead of a no-name upcoming director to take a chance on, because why take a chance when you know what to expect (and nothing more) from Abrams and will make money from it?

    I do find odd though the indications that Abrams still wants to also direct ST3, which is shooting next year. (Quinto recently claimed Abrams would be back directing.)

  50. BR Baraka – then the studio will convert the franchise into heist movies and the next entry will be called….THE RIM JOB.

  51. *hands RRA an award for giving the old “Rim job” joke a fresh spin by adding a heist movie angle*

  52. If they call the sequal Atlantic Rim, Asylum would sue them thus ripping a hole in the space/time continuum.

  53. Jareth Cutestory

    July 17th, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Your bra bomb better work, Majestlinger!

  54. When have I ever let you down?

    *comedic pause*

    Don’t answer that!

  55. Jareth Cutestory

    July 17th, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Majestyk: I’m not a member of the AV Club, but when I saw your remarks about SKYFALL over there a few days ago I was tempted to join up just to agree with you. I consider that film to be right up there with WANTED and TRAVOLTA IN PARIS in terms of the ugliness of its content.

    Vern: RZA uses an English accent on his guest song on James Blake’s recent record. Not sure if it’s the same song that is used in this movie, or if it’s just a thing he does now.

  56. I really took a beating for that, didn’t I? I like that site because the comments are often the funniest you’ll find anywhere, but it’s not exactly a place where people understand what makes badass cinema work. They either take it too seriously or not seriously enough. All of the pro-SKYFALL arguments basically boiled down to “Roger Deakins is God!”

    At least WANTED is a black comedy. SKYFALL seems to think it’s a serious drama, which makes its ugliness all the more depressing.

    FROM PARIS WITH LOVE is just bad, though. It’s too stupid to be offensive.

    Not sure what any of this has to do with PACIFIC RIM, which I’m seeing this weekend.

  57. Y’know, I’m waiting for PACIFIC RIM since it was announced and today it finally starts over here, but now I caught a nasty summer flu’ and have to wait till at least next week. That whomps.

    *You think not being able to breathe because your nose is stuffed and your lung hurts, while sweating your ass off from a fever is awful during the winter months? Imagine that when it’s a million degrees in your apartment under the roof!

  58. Sternshein – Didn’t Asylum already make that?

  59. Way too late to this conversation, but I just watched Pacific Rim today.

    I can safely now say that I am officially not a fan of GDT.

    Cronos, interesting.

    Mimic, interesting.

    Devil’s Backbone – moderately like but absofuckinglutely hate some of the complete narrative nonsense – theme notwithstanding.

    Blade 2 – fucking shoot me. When you feature a final battle sequence of martial arts spectacle and the film has established that Blade cannot kill the big baddie this way – what the fuck. No question mark. What the fuck. The whole reason martial arts films work (when they do) is because of the stakes of every move and every punch. I think Blade 2 is useless.

    Hellboy – probably my favorite but wow there are some narrative issues (i’m noticing a pattern here)

    Pan’s Labyrinth – Abhor this film. Narratively – its nonsense and thematically it is the equivalent of a meal that smells great and tastes like shit. I only hate it because I think what he was going for was a spectacular idea, but pisspoor execution from a narrative standpoint renders it pointless.

    Hellboy 2 – too much excess. enough said.

    Pacific Rim – bland, poorly framed and never even close to the same film that the dialogue suggests we should be watching.

    I do not mention the visuals because he normally does a great job there. Pacific Rim looks pretty even if I wished he would have embraced his inner Leone and framed more widescreen.

    I do not think that his lack of audience or the underperformance of his films has anything to do with his eccentricities. I think that on a fundamental level, his films fail on that most basic of all principles – story. I use story as a catchall phrase that means actions have consequences and consequences mean drama and that drama makes it relatable to people, the intended audience. Right, wrong or otherwise, George Lucas found a way to make the first Star Wars relatable (one might say that was his greatest accomplishment). GDT makes nothing relatable for me. I understand that others disagree and I am happy that they do take some enjoyment.

    Sorry. Don’t ban me from the site, please.

  60. it’s ok dude, we can’t all have good taste

  61. Mr. Majestyk – off topic, but I’m an AV Clubber too, do you know who I am there?

    how do you feel about that site losing all but two of it’s best writers? why do you think they abandoned it and what do you think that means for the future of the site? I’ve seen websites lose good writers and go downhill before, it’s always a real bummer

    thank God we still have Sean O’Neal though, him and the comments there are what keep me coming back, the comments especially are always hilarious, how that site manages to be well known and yet still have a great community I don’t know, lots of mods maybe?

    and Sean O’Neal’s humor is the only thing that makes modern Hollywood’s stupidity tolerable

  62. Mr. M — I’d like to believe that the makers of WANTED knew that it would be hilarious to make a blood-soaked action revenge fantasy where the moral is “you should never disobey a magic loom.” I’d like to believe that.

  63. MDM – No, you’re not banned, but I’m trying to figure out your beef with Blade 2. They know about the bone that shields the heart but Blade figures out the angle to get through it. It doesn’t violate what was set up before. But the scene is really about Nomak pushing it through himself, that’s what makes it original and strangely moving.

    Griff – they left AV Club to write for The Dissolve.

  64. I know they left for The Dissolve, I’m just asking WHY they did that

  65. Actually the only reason why I haven’t blocked The A.V. Club in my browser years ago (like I did with CRACKED or that new “comedy” section on Hit Fix), are the RANDOM ROLES interviews.

  66. Okay, so the annoying scientist guy is a dead ringer for JJ Abrams, in look and mannerisms? Okay, so if they were going for a JJA tribute I guess they succeeded, but I still have to ask…why? I mean, even if you love the dude’s work, if he truly is that obnoxious in real life, why have your character act like him? Couldn’t they have just had the guy look like him and have that be enough? And if they wanted to drive the point home even further than it was a JJA reference, have him come across a vendor selling DVDs of Star Trek or Fringe or something? I mean, I like the black metal band Dissection, but if I wanted to do a tribute to them in a film I was making I’d have some dude rocking out to Storm of the Light’s Bane or wearing a Somberlain t-shirt, not have one of my lead characters whip out a knife and stab a man for hitting on him at a bar.

  67. Griff: Yeah, we ran into each other once before on the AV Club. You’re If Matrix Was Here He Would Laugh Too except your name always gets cut off. You should pick a shorter one. Let Off Some Steam Bennett maybe.

    I believe the old writers all went to The Dissolve because it’s their own thing. They’re all co-founders and have a financial stake in the site, unlike the AV Club at which they were just hired hands. I like that it’s all movies (they’re all a bunch of wieners when it comes to music anyway) and that they mix old stuff with new releases, but it’s gonna take a while for the comment section to grow.

    The new movie guy at the AV Club is kind of a joyless prick. He’s liked maybe two movies since he took over, and he harps on the ones he hates in an off-putting, exclusionary way. When O’Neal moves on (and he will. He’s too funny to keep writing about James Franco forever) they’re gonna have trouble holding onto that fan base they built up.

  68. D.S. – I don’t think it’s a reference. That’s just Charlie Day, that’s how he acts on his tv show and in that pretty terrible movie HORRIBLE BOSSES, and I don’t think Abrams acts like that at all. Asimov is just weirdly obsessed with Abrams (in a negative way) so he was joking about the character having similar glasses as a dig on Abrams. He also calls him “Jar Jar Abrams,” connecting him with a more annoying character. If he knew about Urkel he would probly call him J.J. Urkel.

  69. Maybe Del Toro and Day conspired to riff on the Emmerich Godzilla and the Siskel & Ebert stand-ins, trying to get a monster movie industry figure runner going.

  70. Finally got around to seeing this one. I agree with the general consensus that it’s a really good movie with some fantastic moments, even if it isn’t the paradigm shifting work of genius people were hoping for. Still, it’s easily one of the most enjoyable movies of the summer. I actually liked the fact that we didn’t learn much about the Russians or the triplets. It gave the movie the sense that there’s a much larger universe out there. It’s kind of like Wedge in Star Wars. You always figure that the character had all of these crazy adventures, but we only see him three times in those movies. As an example of world building, Pacific Rim is top notch. I even thought the info dump in the beginning was visually interesting.

    I’m a big fan of Del Toro. I’ve watched all his movies, seen him speak in person, and I even read the first book in The Strain series (which I think just got turned into a comic book and is headed for the small screen). But I still split his films into two categories: 1. Spanish language films and 2. English language films. For whatever reason, his Spanish language films are always superior. Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth are all fantastic movies. As much as I love his other films, they never quite reach the heights of these three. And I can’t tell whether he works better on a smaller scale or if I’m somehow biased towards smaller movies.

  71. Chopper Sullivan

    July 18th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    “Pan’s Labyrinth – Abhor this film. Narratively – its nonsense and thematically it is the equivalent of a meal that smells great and tastes like shit. I only hate it because I think what he was going for was a spectacular idea, but pisspoor execution from a narrative standpoint renders it pointless.”

    I don’t think this means anything. I’m not disagreeing with your point, I’m just not sure there is one here.

  72. SPOILERS – Got a question that I’m surprised I haven’t seen discussed yet on the internet – So Ron Perlman (and I’m guessing the movie) figures that Charlie Day’s mind meld with the kaiju is the reason why two kaiju attack at once for the first time, right? I thought that was pretty neat, since the other scientist already predicted two kauju would attack at once and they weren’t sure why or how, but then they later caused it! (Kind of like a Planet of the Apes/Terminator time loop). So then, why in the world did they proceed to do a three-way mind meld, full well knowing that would create a 3 kaiju occurrence? (Which it immediately does) Not to mention they already said the first mind-meld was a two-way street, and now after the three way drift the kaiju know all about the humans’ plans for the bomb (which is why the kaiju played defense for once and stayed to guard the breach).

    But that’s a minor instance of head-scratching in an otherwise fun popcorn movie. It’s lean and fast moving (I actually didn’t notice it was over 2 hours), the characters are likable (mercifully no real twists or traitors), the acting is good, the effects are good. I loved the mid-credits joke scene. But It’s too imperfect to deserve the pretty ridiculous praise it’s getting on the internet – like every other big summer movie I can’t remember the score, the Category 5 kaiju looked just like the other ones, they do that thing of “wait if you guys had a giant sword and it seems really really effective, why didn’t you use it earlier? The fight scenes, at least at my IMAX 3D showing, were too dark and close up to be considered classics, and there’s a bit of an old hat quality – this is the third movie off the top of my head where someone mind melds with an alien solely to let us know that they’re moving from planet to planet using up resources, and the FOURTH where they possibly have to sacrifice themselves to send a bomb through a portal to stop the aliens. It’s still probably the movie of the summer so far though.



    I didn’t catch that with the Kaiju count, nice.

    Here’s my own addition to the speculation:

    1. Ron Perlman figured out Charlie Day had drifted with a Kaiju by scrutinizing his blown pupil.

    2. Then Perlman pulls off his shades and reveals the same one blown pupil, saying words to the effect that he had had also drifted with a Kaiju.

    At that moment in the theatre, I thought: perhaps Perlman is responsible for starting the original Kaiju attacks way back when?

    (Obviously how Perlman and in what capacity encountered a Kaiju before the attacks even started brings up a whole series of Lovecraftian inferences, which, being Del Toro, fits)

  74. I’m no Kaiju expert, but I thought that the appearance of two Kaiju and Charlie’s mind meld were two separate events. Multiple Kaiju were going to show up no matter what, but because Charlie did his mental handshake thing, they ended up going after him. I could be wrong.

  75. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 19th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Mr. Majestyk, you used the word wanking! Outstanding use of the queens grammar! In response, I shall call someone a jerk-wad as soon as I get the opportunity.

  76. The Original... Paul

    July 19th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Yeah… I can’t say I “get” the criticism of the Pan’s Labyrinth story, at all. I went to see that movie at an arts cinema revival recently and absolutely loved it. So I wrote a review on the forums where I pointed out that anything negative I write gets way more attention / response than anything positive, so you should avoid Pan’s Labyrinth at all costs (unless you like great characters, atmosphere, story, etc.) MDM, what you wrote sounded kinda like that review.

    I have to say that my favorite movies tend to be the most “uncompromising”, by which I mean that there’s a singular vision that’s carried through the whole film, and the person in charge won’t let anything or anyone else ruin it, for better or for worse. “Kill List” is probably the ultimate example of this (and that’s by no means a perfect movie, but I still freaking love it), but “Pan’s Labyrinth” is another great one. On the whole I’d consider myself a Del Toro fan.

  77. Mr. Majestyk – yup, it cuts off my name now and I hate that, but you can’t change your name without creating a whole new account

  78. One more thing I was confused about – Charlie Day pointed out that the kaiju had been here one time before, during the age of the dinosaurs. At first I took it to mean that the movie is saying the kaiju is what made dinosaurs extinct (kinda like how Wolverine caused 3 Mile Island and The Transformers/The Russian Mafia caused Chernobyl.) But afterwards I started thinking – could he mean the dinosaurs actually beat back the kaiju and they said “to hell with this, we’ll come back later”? (And then the meteor killed the dinosaurs for them?) That would actually be kind of a cool twist on things, and work thematically in the movie since conventional weapons and bombs don’t do the job as well as a good old fashioned punch in the face.

  79. I thought it meant that the dinosaurs were kaiju.

  80. No, they killed off the dinosaurs as a “trial run”, but they didn’t colonise the Earth because the conditions weren’t liveable for their masters yet.

  81. BR Baraka- I thought that Pearlman was saying that he lost his eye when he tried using the public Kaiju Shelters, probably because of how frantic and panicky the crowds would be in there. And didn’t he have like a scar over the eye too, not just a different looking eye?

  82. Stu:

    we need a DVD replay!

  83. RRA, it is true, the character played by Charles Day is indeed very much a personification of JJ Abrams on the screen, the imitation was deliberartly, as an homage for the movie he produced a few years ago, CLOVERFIELD. They might had though they were making a loving homage to Abrams, but in fact it ended up with him looking like an irritating fucking asshole you wanted to see hom killed by the kaiju, by far the most hated chatacter in the film. Yes, that is how Abrams actually sounds and acts like in real life, they made the impersonation vey accurate. Again, they though they were doing an homage, they ended up just making him look like the asshole he is.

    It’s highly ironic they made Abrams intoa scientist in the movie,when in fact the man is utterly clueless about science, as his movies more then proves. It goes into meta territory when he uses to old completly disproved nonsense notion that dinosaurs needed two brains to functiontheir bodies, when in fact they only had one brain, like all other animals. A JJ Abrams based character who’s supposed to be a scinetist (a smart man) makes a profundly dumb idiotic statement about dinos who has been disproved since the 70s. The scene when the people in the subway wanted to thrown him to his death to the kaiju and it almost happened quite ressonated with me, it was quite cathartic.

    Lessons i took from PACIFIC RIM: if i ever have the misfortune of meeting JJ Abrams in person, i’m going to punch him in the face.

  84. Vern, i understand your confusion, as the way the line is said in that JJ Abrtams squicky voice it0’s hard to understand, but what JJ Abrams actually said was that when the kaiju first invaded the earth was during the dinosaurs time and the earth envoroment was adversarial to them so they bided their time for their return for millions of years… and this is when it really went very stupid. As befitting a character based on JJ Abrams, that notion of aliens waiting millions of years to try again is just utterly idiotic. And their plot is even taken verbatim from frigging Independence Day.

    I’km finding a hard time believing Guilhermo Del Toro made this movie. It completly doesn’t look like him or any of his previous work. And the frigging score is terrible!!

  85. RRA, with all your knowledged of cinema, you actually think that JJ Abram’s Star Trek In Name Only movies are anything other them bad dumb stupid movies that intult the very franchise they take their name from? Decent movies? Those? Really? And him a decent filmmaker? Him? Really??
    Abrams is little better then Michael Bay, and so are accordingly his movies. He’s the second coming of Bay. Since when that is a good thing?

  86. There must be a name for that medical condition, where someone sees everywhere JJ Abrams.

  87. Abramophobia (n): the legitimate fear that somewhere out there, J.J. Abrams is about to warp or dismember a revered movie franchise.

    1 down, 1 to go, and who knows what else beyond them. You guys should take Asi a tad bit more seriously.

  88. Asimovlives – OK I can see the visual resemblance, but you lost me with the rest of your rant. And I’m sorry, but you have no room to bust my balls for not totally trashing Abrams. I seem remember you going nuts over that Zack Snyder fellow, even you’ve liked what 2 movies of his now? You can’t have it both ways.

    I can slightly give you this: I do think Abrams is quote on quote “overrated,” even though I’m not sure he was rated that highly in the first place despite being a named tossed around alot on the Internet. So far as a filmmaker, he clearly has limits that he’s either unwilling or unable to creatively go beyond unlike that Chris chap that I know you dig like I do.

    And to put PACIFIC RIM on the same stoop as TRANSFORMERS is just an insult, I’m sorry.

  89. asimovlives:

    not only “independence day,” i had a flashback to “the avengers,” “stargate”…

    dear hollywood:

    please do not make any more movies that end with an alien looking confused at a surprise nuclear bomb snuck into HQ through a portal/ trick/ etc

    we’ve seen it already, many times

    be original

    movie goers

  90. BR Baraka…how about a Douglas Adams-esque solution to the problem? The Portal macro-scales anything passing through it. So someone launches an old boot through the portal and it, upon becoming many thousands of times greater in mass, wipes out the actually tiny kaiju-creating civilisation?

  91. so, am I the only one that liked Charlie Day in this? in fact I may even have a man crush on him now

  92. yeah i loved Charlie Day and Dude from Torchwood (Burn Gorman) and i agree that I couldn’t really tell the monsters apart… otherwise i dug it

  93. So I finally saw it today. I liked it, but it’s definitely not del Toro’s best popcorn movie. I love that it took its time with the story, but I think the whole backstory between Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi could have been left on the cutting room floor. (BTW, am I the only one who for any reason started laughing, when the giant crab started to chase that little girl through the big city in the flashback?)

    I saw it in 3-1D (3D with these 2D glasses, that convert the movie back to 2D) and it was a little bit too dark at times (This might change on the 2D Home Video release), but apart from that, I approve of its visual style.

    For any reason I even enjoyed the two scientists, because I’m a sucker for crazy goofballs, who actually get shit done and are willing to risk their life (or at least their health) for the greater good.(And no, apart from a slight visual resemblence, that comes from a combination of Charlie Day’s face and these Urkel glasses, I couldn’t see any connection between him and JJ Abrams.

    Anyway, here are the names I made up for the different Kaijus (Minus Knifehead. I liked that name and it’s the only one I could remember.):

    – Crabby
    – Fat One
    – Flying Asshole
    – Royal Baby
    – Ursula (That’s the category 5 one. Because it had Tentacles.)
    – Dumb Ass Crocodile

  94. I enjoyed the scientists too (I actually think Charlie Day is really funny and likable and was glad to not have to watch ALWAYS SUNNY or, shudder, HORRIBLE BOSSES to see him) but I have to say I think Day’s subplot is weirdly unconnected to anything else in the movie. He meets the main characters once, for about 5 seconds, and then they never speak again. I honestly doubt the Gipsy Danger pilots could identify who was on the other end of the radio at the end. They have so little relation to each other the crosscutting between the stories tended to kinda defuse some of the momentum for me. I don’t know if they went back and added Day’s story in later or something, but it would only have taken a few scenes to establish a relationship between Becket and Day for it to have worked a lot better. Don’t know how that one snuck past Del Toro.

  95. Okay, what’s up with the hate for HORRIBLE BOSSES? While it wasn’t exactly a movie, that will (or should!) be cherished by coming generations as classic comedy masterpiece, it was the funniest big budget studio movie that I have seen in years! It easily made me laugh a lot more often than HANGOVER, BRIDESMAIDS or these Apatow movies.

  96. RRA, it’s a question if being just. Snyder has managed to make two decent movies (probably against his better wishes). sp i call them for what they are, nie enough movies to wat time with. Meanwhile, Abrams makes obviously dumb crap movies that anybody should more then realise what they are. This is not a defens eof Snyder but to point out that even with snyder’s awful history of films, Abrams is far worst.
    And Abrams have been extremely well praised. i do ‘t know where you come to the idea that Abrams is not seen too highly a light, burt the very opposite happens, and he has even reaped such accolades as genious. The common belief, or at least until Star Trek Into Darkness kinda spoiled it a bit, is that he is on eof the best directors alive and a franchise savior. When in nfact is little better then a michael bay with better publicity.
    And Pacific Rim is better then any Bayformers ever made. Bayformers are obviously cynical movies that are made by a man who can’t give a crap except as an excuse to get richer and explode shit. PC for all it’s faults, and it has many, does sem to come from somebodt who genuinely likes the genre his movie belongs. the movie’s problem is not one of cynicism but misguideness. Doens’t mean i fell any urge to defend it against detractors, as i can barely arsed to enjoy it all that much as it’s filled to the grills with wrongheaded decisions and and should know better decisions. But to say it’s worst then Bayformers is too much, it’s just vindictiveness for its own sake.

  97. BR Baraka, i’d like they would heed to your pleading, but i think that’s asking them too much.

  98. I was thinking about chiming in and defending the scientists. They both had elements of the anti-social science geek, but each character takes it in a different direction. I found them mostly entertaining. They remind me of the two weasly guys from The Hidden Fortress or Laurel and Hardy. I’m also a sucker for moments where two previous enemies partner up for the greater good, like what the scientists do at the end.

    I think It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is hit or miss. It has its moments, but too often the cast thinks that yelling at each other is automatically funny, regardless of what they are yelling about. But Charlie Day is consistently the best part of that show. I think he is a genuinely talented comedic actor, and I hope he appears in other movies.

  99. I’m in the middleground on the scientists. I thought Day was annoying at first, but had some really funny parts like when he couldn’t resist telling Ron Perlman about what he did. The other guy I found mostly annoying, but I thought it was sweet and on-theme when they were able to work together to help save the day at the end.

  100. SPOILERS – Baraka – in addition to the alien/bomb/portal business, I hope Hollywood will put a moratorium on Idris Elba sacrificing himself for the main characters. This is the third movie I’ve seen in the last year where he’s done that – it’s like he’s becoming the new Charles S. Dutton.

  101. http://stormingtheivorytower.blogspot.de/2013/07/the-visual-intelligence-of-pacific-rim.html

    This is a seriously interesting read. I’m always a little bit careful when it comes to movie analysis, because it’s always “things that the analyst thinks he sees” Vs “things that the film makers really tried to do or didn’t care for”, but I like the stuff here.

  102. Wow, I didn’t see this one coming. I pretty much hate this movie. It lost me almost immediately and never got me back. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

    I just didn’t buy this movie at all. I didn’t buy that people would have those names, wear those clothes, continue to live in coastal cities 12 years after monsters started stomping them flat, have that kind of infrastructure for humanity’s last hope, be such wieners, utilize these tactics, say these words, or not murder those scientists on sight. (Charlie Day might be the most annoying living human.) I didn’t buy any of it. The cables on my disbelief snapped after five minutes and it fell into a mud puddle and lay there like a lump.

    I’d have forgiven all that, though, if the fights weren’t awful. But they are. Just visual noise, with no ebb and flow, no give and take, no build, no dynamics, no interesting moves, just nonstop grappling shot too close in the rain with constant cutaways to dudes in helmets making funny poses. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that every single action beat in the TRANSFORMERS movies was better handled, more involving, and more imaginative than anything in PACIFIC RIM. And they damn sure made you wait for the fights, too. You sit through like six mess hall scenes and then you finally think you’re gonna get some action and then the girl has an anxiety attack and they cancel the fight scene. I actually groaned out loud. Oh boy. Twenty more minutes of these douchebags being pricks to each other for no reason.

    There was just no excitement to any of it. I went to this movie to see robots punching monsters, and I left wondering why they bothered punching at all. It never worked. They’d punch and punch and punch and then ten minutes later they’d remember, “Oh yeah, I have a shitload of weapons” and then they’d use those to kill the monster. Why didn’t they lead with that? Why not just walk up and blast the motherfucker in the face? Do they think I’m fucking stupid?

    It’s the Voltron Principle. Every episode, the monster’s not getting defeated until they form Voltron, yet every episode they wait until the end to do it. Maybe that’s supposed to be some kind of inside joke for Griff but I just found it annoying. I found this whole movie annoying. It’s a bad movie and I totally hate it.

    Who’d have thought that the only movie of Summer 2013 I wouldn’t like was the Guillermo del Toro one about giant robots and monsters? THE fucking LONE RANGER was a million times better than this boring dud. Thank God it flopped so del Toro won’t be stuck making sequels for the next decade.

  103. Chopper Sullivan

    July 28th, 2013 at 1:28 am

    You’re done Majestyk. I wasn’t sure after the EVIL DEAD talkback, but you’ve definitely crossed the line into angry nerd territory. I’m not mad at you, bud. I’m just disappointed that we lost another rational voice.

  104. I’m not surprised Mr. Majestyk, considering you’ve said you can’t stand anime, so a live action movie with some anime tropes is just not gonna be in your wheelhouse

    but for someone like me, it was fucking nirvana

  105. “I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that every single action beat in the TRANSFORMERS movies was better handled, more involving, and more imaginative than anything in PACIFIC RIM.”

    Now now, you’re just being controversial. Every frame of PACIFIC RIM is a grim reminder of just how little respect the Transformers franchise had for communicating sense of scale, assigning a sense of grandeur, majesty, gravity, etc.

    I don’t really get the complaints about Voltron. The plasma rifles take a hot minute to charge up; beating the monster to a point of relative submission affords the Jaegers the opportunity to perform this charging. The sword may take a bit of meeting the film halfway and supplying some imagination; the increased collateral damage from greater amounts of caustic Kaiju blood being spilt due to sword wounds might be a factor, or maybe the sword gets snapped off and then you don’t have a sword to use in the next, bigger fight when you really wished you had it. Etc.

    I mean you honestly disliked the film beyond the point where anybody is going to make you “see the light” or something but what the hell I’ll also point out that the notion that people would stop living on the coast is just willful stubbornness on your part. Just like people are gonna stop living in New Orleans after the nth time it gets wiped out by a hurricane eh? You don’t have to be Griff to understand the basic vocabulary of post-Katrina, post-9/11, post-Hiroshima cinema. God forbid we want to see movies of monsters coming out of the sea and wrecking shit.

  106. I really wanted to see monsters coming out of the sea and wrecking shit, too. Then that happened for five minutes in the dark in the rain shot too close edited too fast intercut with Tron-suited lamewads who sucked at their jobs and then it was back to the goddamn ocean again where they can move even slower and be even more obscured. Torturous.

    I got no axe to grind here. I love del Toro and I love watching shit get wrecked. I just think he dropped the ball. I think the action was badly done and fuckin’ boring as hell and it turned me against whatever goofy charms the rest of the movie might have had. Christ, it even made me dislike a Ron Perlman performance. I really did have way more fun watching the Transformers jump around and blast each other apart than I did watching these robots and monsters pummel each other ineffectually. That’s not me being contrarian, that’s me being honest. I didn’t have any fun with this movie, and I wasn’t the only one. The girl I saw it with (a majorly upbeat sci-fi fan who spent the day dressed as Spock to visit the space shuttle) just couldn’t get into it either. In fact, the entire audience seemed to turn on it. They laughed at all the wrong parts, and afterward all I heard were people grumbling about how bad it was. So obviously it’s possible to dislike this movie without being dismissed as an angry nerd. I don’t see why I have to turn in my badge and gun over this. Did you miss the part where I loved what IRON MAN 3 did to the Mandarin? Where I didn’t mind Spock yelling “KHAAAAAAAN!!!” in STAR TREK 2? Where I had no problems with the supposed grimness of MAN OF STEEL? Where I defended both WHITE HOUSE DOWN and THE LONE RANGER? This is the only movie this summer I didn’t like. I think I’ve earned it.

  107. Mr. Majestyk, you didn’t mind the stupid “Khan” by EmoSpockie in Abrams Trek Into Retardness? Weird! I found that the most hillarious movie scene of the year, in what has to be the best comedy of the year. And involuntary comedy but a comedy nontheless.

    PACIFIC RIM is a far better movie then the aforementioned JJ Abrams’s abomination, but that still makes it a milquetoast movie. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just there. Something better could had have been made of it, i don’t know how, but there’s moments i feel a better movie is struggling to get out. The end result is, however, just there. The only thing i hate about it is to see Guilhermo Del Toro making such a forgetable movie. Shouldn’t be like this.

  108. Knox Harrington

    July 28th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Wait a sec… You’re telling us you did NOT like the latest Abrams Star Trek movie, asimov?

    But you were so smitten with the first one…

  109. As: Yeah, that scene made me laugh. I like laughing, so I didn’t mind it, despite it being incredibly stupid. It’s par for the course for STAR TREKKIN’ N2 DARKNESS, which is colorful fun until you stop to think about it for two seconds.

    I’ll take a step back and agree that PACIFIC RIM was more milquetoast than terrible. I guess I had such high hopes for the combination of filmmaker and subject matter that I took it harder than I would have if some schmuck like the director of WRATH OF THE TITANS or whatever did it. I know del Toro knows better than to shoot and edit action this way so those monotonous, cacophonous battles really let the air out of my excitement. By the time the opening credits started I’d already checked out.

    In the interest of fairness, I will say that I liked the Japanese girl, and the random hand-to-hand stuff was well done. But what does it say that my favorite part of a movie about giant robot/monster brawls was when Blandy McNothingman beat up that Australian guy? I hated that character (I know I was supposed to, but that was what I hated about him: He was so obviously designed to push my buttons that I resented his entire existence) so it was cathartic to see him get punched, as opposed to all those kaiju against whom I had no rooting interest.

  110. If the Jaeger’s were from Italy, they would be the Cacciatore’s.

    Kaiju Cacciatores

  111. Also, if there were to be a sequel I really hope they make a robot for that damn bulldog.
    He would be a great companion to the Jaegers, running alongside them, and helping take down Kaiju.

    Also, the young Mako was absolutely adorable. So cute.

  112. I have to jump to Majestyk’s defense here. He was being articulate and rational. Just because he’s passionate doesn’t mean he’s angry. Slow big things slamming into each other can indeed be harder to watch than the business of TRANSFORMERS.

    PACIFIC RIM really seems to be bringing up a certain hostility among its fans against anyone who doesn’t like it. I’ve heard PAC RIM fans accuse people of not liking fun if they didn’t like it. It’s in the guise of a joke but at its heart is a really defensive reaction to someone not having exactly the same taste as you. Also no one has to agree with you to validate your love.

    I think it’s important to assess the critic’s intentions. Certainly the folks here go into movies hoping for something good and we celebrate each other’s views.

  113. Thanks, Fred. I do seem to see a lot of the ol’ “It’s robots fighting monsters, what did you expect, Shakespeare?” argument on the internet (not here, of course, where we are more involved). Even mainstream critics seem to be backhandedly praising the movie for “delivering on its premise,” as if merely portraying robot-on-monster violence is enough to satiate the audience’s meager needs. But that’s exactly my point: I came to see robots fighting monsters and felt totally gypped. The quantity was there but not the quality. If everybody else thought that the battles were satisfying, then I can see how the movie would work like gangbusters. For me, they had no impact because the mise en scene was such a mess. If the fights bore you, what else is there to this movie? It could possibly be enjoyed as a Renny Harlin-esque accidental comedy, but I’m not ready to accept that from del Toro yet.

  114. involved = evolved

  115. Disappointing. Not only the post-action which sucked more because of how inventive some of the concepts were (IE: giant robot pulling off wrestling moves) but the lack of suspense, mediocre performances and sometimes downright dreadful dialogue made it a real chore to sit through and took me right out of the movie. Pretty distracting. Easily the worst GDT movie I’ve seen to date despite it’s few moments of awesome.

    All the big movies I saw this year have failed to deliver outside of FURIOUS SIX. I enjoyed smaller movies like THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES & FRUITVALE STATION over the few big budget movies I put myself through this year. I think I’m taking a hiatus from big budget movies until 2015 because no big budget movie announced for next year interests me either.

  116. Honestly I start to think that I liked the action scenes a lot more, because I seem to be the only one who saw the movie in 2D! Come on, while I will admit that there were certain moments where the camera was too close, estimated 97% of the action was shot in nice, long, steady takes, with a lot less intercuts to the human fighters, than this review and several comments imply!

  117. CJ – I saw it in 2D as well. I don’t watch anything in 3D unless it’s shot with 3D cameras. The geography wasn’t all over the place all the time but more often than not there was a lot of shit that was hard to make out. Due to poor lighting and lots of suspect framing. It’s even more noticeable when you consider that there were only like 3 major set pieces in the entire movie.

  118. You guys are being tough on Majestyk, or you’ve not seen Transformers 3 which actually does a real good job of giving a lot of scale and immediacy to the action scenes. Sure, that’s because Bay had to hold onto shots for 3d but they still worked really well. And there were action scenes set during the day, which makes it all that much more immense.

    I liked Pacific Rim. It was more enjoyable than I expected, del Toro is really hit and miss with me, but it wasn’t great. I could nit pick a lot of it (why tell us the main character fights in an unpredictable manner and then never show it? why did the main character say they were out of options when they were picked up by a big pterodactyl thing when they hadn’t pushed the big fucking SWORD button? why make a big deal of drift compatibility when Idris Elba doesn’t give a shit? lots of things) but most of those things didn’t ruin the movie for me.

    The only thing that annoyed me was the way they depict female Asian characters. It would have been a 5 times better movie had the movie not had an Asian woman fawning over a white man who then also saved her emotionally and physically. It’s kind of gross and speaks to how horrible nerds can be :(

  119. I also saw it in 2D. I don’t pay for 3D movies that don’t have the words “Directed by James Cameron” or “Jackass” on their posters.

  120. Well “gypped” is racist so watch the language. :) But yeah, I know I’ve liked a number of movies simply for what they are rather than how they do it. I think you pointed out something important though, which was they had one great fight in the city with props and gags like the boat getting stuck between buildings. Then they go back to the ocean where they just indiscriminately slam into each other. We’ve seen what they could do and then they settle.

  121. The reason fighting in the water is so unsatisfying is that there’s no sense of scale. They could be two-feet tall and fighting in a kiddie pool. Before the part with the boat I had no idea how big these fuckers were supposed to be. That one segment was the one part that even kind of delivered.

  122. Casey — While I don’t necessarily agree that the movie mistreats its Asian characters (in fact, one thing I like is it’s international cast who all get to be heroes), I’m with you that the way things end up for Mako are pretty lame. After demonstrating early that she’s Beckett’s equal in a fight, she spends the rest of the movie fucking up and then she just ditches right before the climax and basically he goes on to save the day himself. Up until the end they’re treated as equals, but then when it really counts she just gets turned into a damsel who needs saving. Not only is that depressing from a progressive perspective, but it also totally dumps her story arc of wanting to become empowered, for no good reason. No idea why they decided to do that.

  123. It isn’t just a race or sex thing, but the combination of the two. Too many nerdy white guys want Asian girlfriends or whatever for all the wrong and grossest reasons, and I felt like this movie embodied most of those.

    I agree with everything else you say, Mr Subtlety, as you are a righteous dude. I think what you talk about also touches on one of the failings of the movie: so much is made of the emotional state and stakes, especially with how people can feel the emotions of their co-pilot, that the ending lacks any sort of overcoming of anything emotional so a lot of the movie just feels pointless. Or, at least, it didn’t feel truly satisfying. Main white guy still feels the loss of his brother, and the Japanese lady still felt afraid and didn’t get a chance to show how strong she could be by herself and without the support of some white guy.

  124. Casey — maybe you can take solace (like I did) in the fact that at least their relationship is somewhat ambiguous by the end. It seems kind of like it’s going to turn into a romance, but never quite does; there’s just enough gray area that you can imagine them going on to be close colleagues instead of fucking. So at least Mako doesn’t ENTIRELY become a mere object, even if they miss a big opportunity both for enlightenment and for a better story by giving her such a pansy role in the finale.

    Still, a bit of a disappointment there. I wonder if the money guys pushed Del Toro to focus on the hero for the climax? It seems like her part is written to come to an obvious arc, but the end totally dismisses it. Which maybe makes me think it got rewritten a bit, and ended up out-of-sync with the rest of the script. Maybe?

  125. From Devin Faraci’s interview with Del Toro:

    ” When I was working on the movie we had three or four different versions of the relationship between Charlie and Rinko because I wanted to see if I could make a story about two people liking each other without having to end in a kiss. So when I shot the ending we shot three versions. I’ve never done this before, but instinctively I thought we should do three versions. We did one version where they kiss and it almost felt weird. They’re good friends, they’re pals, good colleagues… Basically just a huge exhale like ‘We made it.’ But the thing that stayed in the movie is the hint that there may be a love story one day, but it’s not there yet.”


  126. PACIFIC RIM has so many details I liked that I didn’t become angry or bored while watching it. But for a love letter to robot vs. monster action it had surprisingly terrible fight scenes.

    I recently watched some GODZILLA and MOTHRA movies, the first season of CODE GEASS and the surprisingly enjoyable REAL STEEL. And really everyone of these had way better fight scenes. I could easily understand the different character and fighting styles of the contrahents. (Also most of them had a better story and memorable human characters.)

    At the beginning of PACIFIC RIM Idris Elba presents us the four different robots. They look very different and he explains that they’re different, but in the fight scenes they move and fight in exactly the same way. The robot from our protagonists is older, but that information alone doesn’t make it into something special.

    I could identify some differences in the anatomy of the monsters and some different skills, but I couldn’t really tell them apart or even accept them as real characters. Without any real stakes in the fight scenes, without a dramaturgy in the fight, without a sense of scale or understandable differences between the robots and monsters all the fights became pretty boring. One punches the other, the other falls into a building, then punches back.

    In the final fight of REAL STEEL was a seemingly unbeatable adversary and the hero had to overcome his problems at the brink of defeat and found a (emotionally involving) way to win. At the same time the robots in the fight had very different characters and very different skills. One was a killer machine, the other was a underdog that could sustain a incredible amount of punches. That’s not a very complex setup, but it’s more than »They’re punching each other. One wins.«

    So at least for me there wasn’t heightened tension when a »class 5« monster arrived at the scene. I think it was bigger than a »class 4« monster, but not that much. They could have at least found a monster for the final fight that’s so impressive that they don’t even can categorize it in a class.

    Luckily it turned out to be not that hard to defeat.

    Then there was the lackluster staging from Del Toro. Most of the time I could see the difference between the monster and the robot, that’s the best I could say about the fight scenes. I know how much you guys dislike Michael Bay, but it’s not unrational to argue that the action was more inventive and better staged in TRANSFORMERS 3. (And the 3D was way better.)

    So at least for me it turns out that Del Toro isn’t a Michael Bay or Shawn Levy when it comes to modern robot action.

  127. I agree, Andreas. So much was made of how the robots and the pilots were distinct personalities that we never end up seeing any of it. Say what you will about Top Gun, but the dude named Maverick at least acts recklessly from time to time.

    I also agree about Transformers 3. It gets a bad rap, but the last hour of it is some really good action staging and it is pretty effective. Better than Avengers, which was basically the same movie but with worse action but better non-action parts.

  128. Very well put, guys. I agree that the lack of personality and differentiation in the combatants is as much the cause of my lack of connection to the fights as the sloppy, cluttered visual style.

  129. In a weird way, I think CG animation is bad for creative directors because it makes everything so easy. They just imagine it, draw it up, and send it off to the computer guys to make real. It makes you lazy about the execution. If you’re actually on set, having to fastidiously map everything out and figure out every detail, it just forces you to engage more with the little things, and consequently I think things tend to end up tighter and with a little more character. More opportunity to think about small ways to amp up the action and add human detail, rather than just relying on the computer guys to overwhelm people with spectacle.

  130. if you think CG animation is easy and prevents you from thinking about and plotting out all the small details, you have obviously never tried animate anything. And especially nothing, that was supposed to blend in with “real” footage.

  131. Yeah, but that’s not really the director’s problem, is it? He just looks at the footage at the end of the day, gives his notes, and lets the animators figure out how to implement them. It’s not the same as a flesh-and-blood production where you need to figure it all out on the day. When you can’t assume that the nerds will make it all work eventually, I’d imagine it makes a talented director work a little harder to think up those little grace notes that really sell an action scene.

  132. By that logic, nothing is the director’s problem. “HEy cameraman, make it look good! Hey costume designer, make it look good! Hey stunt coordinator! Make it look good! By the end of the day I will give y’all some notes!”

  133. I think Mr Majestyk is onto something. I can definitely tell between CG animation just made up on a computer from CG animation done using motion capture, where it is mapped on an actual person moving around. Maybe it’s easier to play around with what works and doesn’t when it’s done in person and animated after the fact, instead of just being created on an empty canvas?

  134. You THINK you can tell the difference! Sometimes it’s obvious, but believe me, there are many examples where you would think it’s motion captured, when it’s not. It’s kinda like the old argument that “CGI looks always fake”. It doesn’t. You only see the fake looking effects, because most of the time it’s invisible.

  135. You’re right, CJ. The director’s the only guy in the credits who doesn’t actually have to know how to do anything. He just has to have the good taste to decide between the infinite options provided to him by the experts on his team. My point is more that, on the set, on the day, there are only so many options available. You have to think on your feet to find solutions to problems within the time and space parameters available. With those parameters removed in the digital realm, it seems like most directors go for overkill instead of finding interesting solutions to their problems. It takes a talented director to make a CGI sequence just as specific and tangible as a practical one.

    Normally, del Toro is that guy, having pioneered CGI-aided hand-to-hand combat in BLADE II, but he seems to have temporarily lost his mojo on this one. His one little grace note was the robot fist bumping the swinging balls desk thing, but that moment was so out of place amidst all the bludgeoning that it was more groan-worthy than whimsical. It felt, like a lot of the quirky touches in the costuming and production design, to be like del Toro the auteur struggling to assert himself from deep in the grips of the studio machine. The broad strokes were all mapped out for him, so all he could do was doodle in the margins.

  136. CJ — I’m not saying that CG is easy, it’s just that CG is kind of a static creative process, while actually being on-set (even in cases where a lot of effects will be added later) just requires more waiting and planning and face time with a director on set. It’s not just something that nerds do far away, someone has to be sitting there in person, deciding where specifically something is going to land, how long each beat is going to take, how the extras should react, and so forth. Just putting that time into it forces them to think a little harder about it and then gives more room for them to question their first ideas and improvise a little. Hence, even a heavily computer-enhanced fight like the one between Hellboy and that frog thing in the subway in the first HELLBOY is full of fun little beats and gimmicks, whereas the PACIFIC RIM fight have a few fun ideas, but are kind of cluttered up with a lot of filler. It’s because once they get started doing the animation, you can’t really fuck with it very much. So you’re stuck with just your first batch of ideas: They’ll throw shipping containers at each other, there will be a funny gag with metal balls, and then a sword” and can’t let it sort of evolve as you work on it.

  137. I don’t know, it seems to me like Del Toro did whatever the fuck he wanted on this. And I bet money that he was more heavily involved in the details of the animation than some directors are. But maybe he’s just not as much to our taste when he goes full digital. A totally different director we could compare him to is Robert Rodriguez, a very creative problem solving type low budget director who turned alot cheesier when he got ahold of computers.

    I didn’t really think about this until now, but Del Toro was trying to do an animatronic dragon when he was directing the THE HOBBITs. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s wrong to use animation just because they used rubber suits in the old days, but if somebody was gonna build a big ’70s KING KONG type monster today Del Toro would be the guy and this would’ve been the movie.

  138. *sigh* sometimes I miss the pre-internet days when the only opinion on a movie you had to care about was your own

    don’t get me wrong, I respect all you guys, but how come it seems like most of the time when I really like a movie (like say THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), I’m mostly alone? (save for Vern), meanwhile you guys rave over the latest THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS movie, a franchise that I’ve never, if I’m gonna be frank, given a shit about?

  139. Griff – I spend a lot of time reading what Vern and all the commenters around here think about about a movie, love the discussions and even write something if I can find the time. But most of the time I just think about all the viewpoints and arguments, hopefully learning something from it.

    But in case of some movies all this reading and thinking doesn’t help in understanding where someone is coming from. (Yeah, I would walk out of DAY OF RECKONING again.)

    There is no problem for me to understand that you like or even love THE DARK KNIGHT RISES despite it’s long list of flaws. It’s harder for me if you think those flaws don’t exist, because I think I have valid arguments why for example the screenplay or the staging of a scene falls short or works against the intention.

    You’ve written that you love all the details in the world Del Toro has created, that the movie looks gorgeous, that the effects are great and that Charlie Day is hilarious. I only disagree with the last part, but that is highly subjective. For me the wacky scientist comic relief characters came right out of a Roland Emmerich movie.

    Where we disagree is the idea that PACIFIC RIM brings anime to life. Maybe in terms of content, but I can’t remember watching so badly staged action scenes in a anime. Those movies are highly visual and most of the time feature clear shots that give you a sense of geography and scale. They also have very distinct aesthetics, something that Del Toro doesn’t use in his staging of the scenes.

    So I would argue that SPEED RACER brings the visual style, the staging and framing of anime to life while PACIFIC RIM has the look and feel of a modern American blockbuster.

  140. well, my philosophy is, you have to look at the glass half full when it comes to movies, focus on what’s good about it, not the flaws, otherwise you’re gonna find yourself disliking every movie you see, trouble is, that’s what 99% of the internet does and it just gets tiresome after a while, who cares about a movie’s flaws if it brings enough good to the table? you just got to ask yourself the question “does the good outweigh the bad?” negativity is the fucking lifeblood of the internet and while sometimes that’s ok, it also gets boring when that’s all there is

    do I think PACIFIC RIM is a flawless masterpiece? no, but it has enough good stuff in it that I’m willing to overlook any flaws and not let them ruin the overall experience

    I dare say the internet tends to take movies a little too seriously, we are not French film students in the 1960’s discussing mise en scene and auteur theory over coffee and cigarettes, were discussing movies with giant robots and shit on the internet, let’s all learn to lighten up a little bit more

    glass half full is the attitude I try to take with all my entertainment, like video games for example, it always boggles my mind when I see gamers acting like games like SKYRIM are bad, are we living in the same universe? the internet seems to have impossibly high standards, is what I’m saying

    that’s what I love about Vern, I mean he loved THE LONE RANGER for crying out loud, a movie everyone else thinks is awful, if that’s not looking at the glass half full, I don’t know what is

  141. let’s fight the real enemy, fucking Adam Sandler

  142. Griff, nobody’s forcing you to go on the internet and hear other opinions. If you just want to stay blissfully unaware of the inevitable fact that some people will hate the things you love, you can do that. But this is a movie sight. We talk about movies here. Be pretty fucking boring if all we said was, “That was awesome, right?” “Yeah, totally.” You must know this or you wouldn’t keep coming back here. You don’t want to just blithely adore in a vacuum. You want to take part in the discussion.

    Me, I tend to take a holistic approach. If a movie as a whole entertains me, holds my interest, makes me want to see it again, all the nitpicky bullshit doesn’t really matter. If the movie as a whole doesn’t do those things, I will rip that movie to fucking shreds to find out why. No individual nitpick is the reason, though. It’s the entire experience that’s the flaw. “Lightening up” is not gonna help when the movie just doesn’t grab me.

    My advice is to toughen up. So people hate something you love. Fuck ’em. They’re just a bunch of angry ghosts in a machine. Your joy is real. No one can take that from you.

    Also, SPEED RACER is 50 times the movie PACIFIC RIM is.

  143. “Also, SPEED RACER is 50 times the movie PACIFIC RIM is.” preach Brother Majestyk PREACH!!!

    Griff I’ve been using the internet to view movie forums since 1997. I could think of more instances where my opinion of a movie was contrary to the majority opinion on the net than when it was not. It’s all part of the game. Subjective opinions and all that. When that seems to become too much to handle it might be a sign that it’s just time to log off for a while.

  144. Griff – “let’s fight the real enemy, fucking Adam Sandler”

    I haven’t watched an Adam Sandler movie since BIG DADDY that was 1999 and I can’t even imagine the horribleness of anything he made after that considering how awful that movie really was. With that said I can’t really do that (fight against Sandler) because he is still the guy who gave us BILLY MADISON, HAPPY GILMORE and THE WEDDING SINGER. Which is more than I can say for most hacks that make shitty comedy movies today and get constant passes.

  145. The original Paul

    August 1st, 2013 at 7:53 am

    “When that seems to become too much to handle it might be a sign that it’s just time to log off for a while.”

    I did that for about six months once. It really helped me to mature in terms of my attitude and the way I was thinking / acting here. Not that I’m saying you’re immature, Griff. I’m just pointing out that taking a break can maybe give you a new perspective.

  146. Griff, I’ve barely found any signs of biased hatred in this forum. (As long as no one mentions Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams.) And I didn’t »hate« PACIFIC RIM, I’ve only couldn’t connect to the characters or the story and was surprised how lackluster Del Toro staged the fights as they are obviously the reason the movie exists.

    But personally I enjoy a intense discussion about a movie, sometimes this is more enjoyable than the movie itself. The discussion about MAN OF STEEL and the articles from Vern and Film Critic Hulk about the merits and flaws of the movie were absolutely fascinating while I nearly fell asleep during the movie. I not only want to learn how movies work, I also want to learn how they connect with the audience. Therefore I’m grateful for everybody who spends time to discuss a movie.

    Ignorance, bias and superficiality are far more disheartening for me than a intense discussion.

    Generally for me it’s all about Vern’s terrific motto »Striving for excellence«.

    This is a extremely inspiring and in my opinion extremely positive idea: Instead of looking at the glass as half full I expect every movie to be a full glass.

    This is a positive and often challenging idea because it means that you must have a really open mind.

    For example: Without Vern’s book I wouldn’t honestly have looked at a Steven Seagal movie with an open mind, I couldn’t even understand if this kind of glass is full or empty.

  147. Oh Mr. Majestyk, you’re such a child of the Internet like the rest of us. Saying something is 50x a recent movie that you just saw is something I would do. Welcome home, friend.

    Also I suppose between PR and SPEED RACER which was more ambitious, I would pick the latter too but it was what 2 and plus something hours? That was a bubblegum movie too so lets not go hyperbole here, mkay?

  148. Can’t speak for anybody else here but I know any issues I may have with this movie have nothing to do with it being “bubblegum” and everything to do with the fact that I found a great deal of it to be pretty boring. Which sucked because I went in with a lot of optimism and was just left high and dry. I read today that there might be a sequel to it (see Griff other people liked it well enough) so there’s still a chance that maybe GDT could deliver something better with the concept on a second try.

  149. I stand by my hyperbole. In terms of visual style, underlying themes, world-building, action set-pieces, writing, acting, emotional impact, real-world relevance, adherence to auteur theory, and overall catharsis, PR is a pygmy and SR is a kaiju. There’s no contest, and that will not change even after I watch PR on DVD in eight months and decide it’s only disappointing, not terrible.

  150. I liked Pacific Rim, despite having a decently long list of issues with it, quite a bit and I’ll agree that Speed Racer is at least 50 times better. Probably around 73 times better if my math is correct.

    Seriously, everything Pacific Rim tries to do Speed Racer does better. Characters with relationships I care about? A message broad enough, yet left in its nature, that kids can grasp onto? Creating a world true to its source material? Action scenes?

    But, I really love Speed Racer. Maybe the boy and the monkey weren’t as good as Charlie Day, Charlie Day just makes me laugh because I’m a dumb ogre of a man, but otherwise Speed Racer is the best. It’s up there with Children of Men and City of G-d as some of my favorite movies of the 2000s.

  151. Broddie – Someone was complaining about the characters and story, but is SPEED RACER really that better of a story? That (and PR) were about as deep as bubblegum. If one engaged one more than the other, that’s a whole other issue all together.

    Mr. Majestyk – we’re talking about the movie that had that annoying kid and his pet monkey, right? For better or for worse, both movies had as much story as their source materials, with SR really in spirit for the most part being a big budget live action saturday morning cartoon. (What characters do people remember in Godzilla movies other than the monsters?)

    I’m not disagreeing with you on the visual narrative of SR which was indeed more ambitious and TRON-esque, but your passion reminds me of saying THE WOLVERINE was a better “more emotional” (or whatever it was) film than MAN OF STEEL, even then I still I thought tried to be fair about how one movie aimed for the sky and missed, the other reached the trees successfully.

  152. Poor SPEED RACER. If it came out now, it would make up its budget overseas and China would save it and would’ve given us that sequel.

    (Of course China apparently hasn’t given Hollywood their owed box-office cut for last year and this year so far, so we would be talking about Monopoly money saving the day.)

  153. SR is about the line the artist must walk between art and commerce. It’s a big-budget studio franchise tentpole that smuggles in a critique of Hollywood as a fixed game in which filmmakers have only the illusion of control and the moneymen decide all the outcomes ahead of time. It’s about an artist struggling to retain his joy for creating amidst a corrupt system that only wants to use him and shit him out. And it has a monkey pantsing a ninja.

    PR is your standard white-guy-seeks-redemption story with shitty action scenes and no monkeys. If you can’t see the difference, that’s your loss.

  154. I’d “Like” or “Favorite” Mr Majestyk here if I could.

    I would have liked Pacific Rim more had we seen more of the world. Talks of ration cards and the like were interesting, and I imagine the world would be significantly different with monsters destroying shipping lanes and causing mass amounts of starvation and instability. It’s like Inception, I think I would have liked that movie some (instead of not at all) had we seen how the whole dream sneaking thing affected the rest of the world.

  155. Casey: Well, it didn’t really. Dream-sneaking hadn’t gone mainstream yet. It was only the domain of the richest and most powerful captains of industry. That was why Ellen Page had to have the whole thing explained to her.

  156. Wasn’t there a scene involving a bunch of people doing it in some shitty basement, like the very opposite of rich and powerful captains of industry? Or am I misremembering?

  157. Mr. Majestyk – this is the only movie site that I still pay attention to the opinions of, I don’t visit the imdb boards or the AICN talkbacks or whatever anymore, the endless negativity was just too much to handle after a while

    so because I value you guys’ opinions, it’s just a bummer when we don’t all see eye to eye, that’s all

    and while SPEED RACER is probably the better movie, I’m just saying that PACIFIC RIM “feels” more authentically anime to me, I think it has to do with the fact that SPEED RACER is based on a really old anime from the 60’s, whereas PACIFIC RIM is drawing from more recent stuff like EVANGELION, stuff I’m much more familiar with

  158. Oh yeah, there was that. Just because the basement was shitty, though, doesn’t mean it was cheap. The whole point was to escape reality, so those could still have been really rich motherfuckers partaking in an illegal recreational activity. Either way, the practice still didn’t seem to have gone mainstream. Even Ellen Page, the most likely candidate for dream-sneaking prowess, had to have the entire concept explained to her.

  159. I’ll give you this Majestyk: SPEED RACER was 135 minutes long, while MAN OF STEEL was 143 minutes long. SR was 25 times the movie that MOS was and didn’t bore me like at times like MOS did. Much more ambitious too.

    But anyway, which one do you prefer?

  160. I guess I should clarify that I’m not a Pacific Rim apologist or anything. I share some of the complaints. I think you guys should give Majestyk back his nerd badge, although I hear the appeal process for that sort of thing is long and tedious so sorry there bud.

    One thing I don’t get is how you jump from Mako being an unfulfilled character to her being representative of shitty Asian stereotypes, as if she was just there to be the romantic interest for the guy. B-b-but it wasn’t romantic! I mean christ are Asian women not allowed to be friends with people in movies getting called out for stereotypes? Or they can be friends, but you have to be 100% explicit that the friendship is NEVER going to turn into something more possibly sometime in the future?

    But the core of the complaint, that they don’t do enough with her, is sound. The whole drift compatibility thing. I was waiting for there to be this moment where her and White Dude’s minds truly do merge, and they actually start saying stuff in unison or something, and it lets them control their Jaeger in hitherto unknown levels of martial sublimity and is critical to final fight. I think we all would not have minded something like that happening.

    And while I sympathize with complaints about the final battle, I gotta say that the real climactic centerpiece battle of the film is a truly marvelous spectacle and I just do not understand how people were unable to connect with that shit. Its variations in rhythm (the theater’s collective gasp when they hang for an instant above the cloudline), in setting (seeing the battle from within the Jaeger cockpit but also from the crowded bunker), the gutpunch of the Kaiju taking wing … that’s some cold shit, saying Revenge of the Fallen had better action than that scene. Are you sure you’re not grading on a curve wherein the fact that you expected more from Del Toro made you critique this film more harshly? (Because that would be fair.)

    Lastly, what the fuck is up with all you people saying GDT is hit and miss. What is this “miss” of which you speak. How did Vern not like Hellboy 2, one of my favorite movies from the last decade, whose Troll Market sequence rivals the Mos Eiseleys cantina in terms of Cinema’s Breakthrough Moments of Otherworldly Immersion. The director who showed us the (unforgettable) image of the fetus sagely listening to Storytime With Ofelia in Pan’s Lab. Pacific Rim is easily the worst film he’s made and I still liked it.

  161. No, I kinda like HELLBOY 2, I just don’t think as a whole the tone and story come together in a way worthy of great scenes like the one you mentioned. I love the giant nature god, the evil tooth fairies, the Elf version of Nomak from BLADE 2, all that. But the terrible Seth McFarlane character, the jokes and some of the turns (like why does comedy ghost man decide to quit along with them at the end?) lose me. It’s almost there. I’ve watched it twice.

    I think his three Spanish language ones and BLADE II are A or A+, so greatness mixed with MEN IN BLACK is disappointing to me. But I respect the attempt.

    I wouldn’t say he was hit or miss. He just hits it softer sometimes. He never seems like he’s asleep at the wheel. (baseball and driving metaphor combo)

  162. “But the terrible Seth McFarlane character”

    and just like Charlie Day, that was another GDT comic relief character that I enjoyed, I’m not a fan of Seth McFarlane or anything, but come on, a ghost man in a suit, that’s cool

    I guess GDT’s comedy just works for me

  163. Holy shit, Seth MacFarlane was in Hellboy 2???

    Thanks for elaborating, Vern.

  164. I like SPEED RACER the movie. But I LOVE Speed Racer (Porno Remix) by DJ Keoki. That’s some funny shit.

  165. It’s still Thomas Kretschman who’s in the ghost man suit, isn’t it? McFarlane just provided the voice, because the German actor didn’t sound German enough?

  166. I guess GDT wanted a much more cartoony German accent, which is why he went with MacFarlane. His character is btw less annoying in the German dubbing, thanks to the lack of “der cräzy Djörman Akzent, ja”.

  167. The original Paul

    August 3rd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    “But the terrible Seth McFarlane character…”

    That character and the giant plant elemental were easily the best things in the movie. By a LONG stretch. (Well, ok, Ron Perlman was great too. But he’s Ron Perlman, that goes without saying.) Terrible?!

    I will consider this karmic retribution for my insistence that the main bad guy of “Blade 2” is effectively a Spiderman villain, and his son is a Buffy-style ubervamp.

  168. The original Paul

    August 3rd, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    And I kind of agree with Renfield on GDT not having had a “miss” yet, at least of the movies I’ve seen of his. I haven’t seen “Pacific Rim” (I will when it comes out on TV… I just can’t bring myself to waste money on it. Sorry. It’s the giant robots thing, I’ve never “got” the appeal of that, even when I was a boy.) At least as far as his other movies go, though, there’s none that I’d call a “miss”. I know I’ve been harsh on “Blade 2”, which I think has some pretty major problems, but I still enjoy a lot of it; I really like “Mimic” (seriously underrated little movie); and “Pan’s Labyrinth” left me pretty much awestruck when I saw it for the first time at the cinema last year (thank you, cinema revivals!) Both “Hellboy” movies have their problems but I enjoyed both of them.

  169. So if the box office gurus are correct, PR is now the most successful WB film ever in China. (Suck it Superman!)

    Of course they’ll never see a dime of that money, but none the less that’s data worth sharing.

  170. I just saw this & I liked it. It wasn’t the greatest ever, but I thought it was fun. I liked the effects & didn’t think the fights were too bad. I saw it in 2D & didn’t have much trouble seeing everything, but it would’ve been nice to have a fight the way Vern suggests – shot further away & without the cuts to the people inside.

    I liked that the connection between the two leads was based on a true connection, rather than an attraction & I could see it developing to a romance or not & either way would be fine with me.

    I didn’t mind the scientists, although I could understand why others would be annoyed with them, & in fact was amused at times, like when the one went into a full out impression of Velma from Scooby Doo when his glasses were knocked off & he said, “My glasses!” & then scrambled around on all fours sweeping his hands around for them.

  171. I had an absolute blast with this.

    Some of the more negative comments I’ve read had me worried, like there was something fundamentally wrong with this film, but I was very happy to find this wasn’t the case at all. Kinda seems like many people have taken nitpicking to extreme new levels when it comes to Pacific Rim, which I find a little strange (if anything, I thought Man of Steel would be the one to face that level of micro-criticism. Maybe it did, I dunno).

    Anyway, at the end of the day it really worked for me, even more so than I was expecting. I enjoyed the characters and their relationships, could place my fantasy self in their situation, and my inner brat marveled at those awesome robots. Those really are the best movie robo-designs I’ve seen in years. Simple, elegant and very dynamic. Makes me wanna buy the toys (which is an urge I haven’t had since being a school kid). I’m as impressed with these robots as I was with those cool aliens in Attack The Block.

    Yep, as someone who grew up with Robotech and Godzilla movies, this really brings the geek out of me.

    P.S. Hey, Griff, is there any good giant robot anime out there that you think I might enjoy? I remember really getting a kick out of Full Metal Panic. Who knew I’d have a thing for Japanese teen romance with giant mech suits?

  172. I’m actually generally not that big of a giant robot guy (never liked Gundam for example), but there’s a few I really like

    1. NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: yeah, yeah, this is one is infamous for the melodrama but don’t let that dissuade you, it’s still literally the best giant robot series ever made, hands down, it’s in a lot of ways kind of like the anime version of WATCHMEN, taking a historically juvenile genre and turning it on it’s head by doing a very mature, post modern take on it while at the same time still being an entertaining example of the genre

    2. BIG O: imagine if you will, a cross between a British “telefantasy” (think stuff like DOCTOR WHO, THE AVENGERS and THUNDERBIRDS) and BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES but if Batman owned a giant robot and you’re very close to this series, the story in the long run turns to be pretty much nonsense, but it’s still a fun ride, PACIFIC RIM may in fact even contain a direct reference to it

    3. PATLABOR 2: the most believable and realistic depiction of giant robots ever made, my experience with the franchise ends with the second movie, but I’ve heard good things about the other stuff

    4. CODE GEASS: the designs of the giant robots are kinda bland looking but there’s enough going on beyond just the robots to make this series worth watching, the main character is somewhat like an anime version of V from V FOR VENDETTA

    5. EUREKA 7: giant robots on surf boards that fly in the air! and circa mid 2000’s political commentary on George W Bush and the Iraq War! what’s not to love? this is a seriously great little series

    5. GODANNAR: this is purely in the “for fun” category, a homage to 70’s giant robot shows with lots of “fanservice” (meaning, sexy scantily clad ladies, oh no!)

    6. RAHXEPHON: aka “Evangelion’s little brother”, not a great series, it’s a deep cut, but worth while nonetheless

  173. Thanks a lot, Griff. I appreciate it.

    Neon Genesis Evangelion and Eureka 7 sound like my cup of tea. My only problem with these kinda shows is that I have no idea where to start. There are usually so many seasons and movies, and so much spin-off material, that it’s all very daunting. Like Evangelion, for instance: just searching for it on Amazon, I’m bombarded with dozens of different DVDs. Does the TV series come first or the movie(s)? I guess I can just Google that shit.

    Anyway, thanks again, Griff.

  174. Every year, I enjoy quite a few movies that everyone else seems to hate. And I’m okay with that. I figure if they can’t get into it, that’s their problem. But then there’s at least one movie every year that I hate that everyone else seems to enjoy. And I’m not okay with that. I figure that’s my problem. There’s clearly awesome out there to be had and I’m just not perceiving it. I need to put the sunglasses on or take them off or something. This bothers me. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually enjoy being contrary to popular belief.

    So in an effort to not be the guy who’s all “Giant robots punching giant crab-monsters is stupid,” because fuck that guy, I went and caught a matinee of PACIFIC RIM to give it another chance on the big screen. I sat much, much, much farther back in the theater so could make sense of del Toro’s cluttered compositions in the battle scenes, and I got a little chemically enhanced so that maybe the stupid characters and unbelievable occurrences would strike me as funny instead of annoying.

    It didn’t fully work, but I didn’t leave the theater angry this time. There’s just something about this movie that doesn’t connect with me. The fights were much more discernible from the back of the theater, but there were still no “Oh shit it’s on” moments. It all looked great but it just wasn’t involving. I still found myself questioning their tactics all the time instead of going with the flow. I never found my moment of bliss, and isn’t that what this movie is supposed to be about? Pure, child-like joy? I got more of that from THE LONE RANGER.

    Also, I just don’t think it’s very well conceived. It’s full of detail but none of it adds up to a believable world or story. On a script level, I don’t see what the point of the drift was. If it’s a movie about teamwork and opening yourself up to another person, why does it repeatedly state that the most badass thing you can do is pilot a jaeger by yourself? Why does it come down to one noble white guy saving the day on his own instead of combining his powers with his co-pilot to become stronger than either would be alone? This is not nitpicking, this is a problem with the overall themes of the narrative. It simply doesn’t work.

    I guess this movie has to blow you away with the inherent awesomeness of its concept so you don’t give a shit about how shoddy its storytelling is. I still don’t think the fights are that great, due to the combatants having no personality and the style of combat never varying, so I’m left out in the cold.

    Sorry, guys. I tried. I guess I’m just immune to PACIFIC RIM. We are not drift-compatible.

  175. Jareth Cutestory

    August 21st, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I pretty much have the same complaints about the HELLBOY movies, which is why I won’t bother with PACIFIC RIM until it’s out on video. Some movies can coast along on the most purfunctory plot and character mechanics, like, say SHAOLIN SOCCER or CHOCOLATE, because the visuals are so inventive or giddy, while others, like HELLBOY, tip too far into cliche for the visuals to do much good. I found both those movies utterly hackneyed, despite all the obvious talent involved.

    Speaking of being That Guy Who Doesn’t Like Something Everyone Else Likes: I’ll never sign up for the AV Club because I can’t handle all those nitwits quoting the Simpsons, a show I’ve only ever found mildly amusing at best and outright maudlin most of the time.

  176. I never thought of that, but I guess you’re right. There are a lot of gaps in the HB films’ world-building and storytelling, but I love those characters so much and the big set-pieces are so much fun that I don’t care. Contrast that with PR, where the fight scenes leave me hanging and I don’t give a shit about anybody in the movie.

    Seriously, though, why is there so much fucking drama in the Shatterdome? Nobody follows a chain of command, everybody’s always whining about their own personal shit, nobody even tries to get along or even get to know each other, and then they wonder why everything goes tits up all the time. They’re supposed to be a team but they’re all just selfish egotists. I just don’t get why you’d want to portray the saviors of humanity as childish, unprofessional crybabies. If I was Idris Elba I’d have just said fuck it and let the monsters have the planet.

  177. Simple explanation for all that, Majestyk: Melodrama!

    Melodrama and anime are like cheese and crackers. The Japanese basically realised decades ago that soap operas are shit and need giant robots and monsters and demonslayers and schoolgirls with blue hair to be worth a crap. They really are an incredible people.

  178. No wonder I don’t like anime.

    It seemed like some kind of bullshit studio-imposed screenwriting rule about how all conflict must have personal stakes. I hate fake trumped-up drama in movies that don’t need them. It’s about giant fucking monsters overrunning the earth! Is that not enough conflict? Why do we need everybody to be having therapy sessions instead of doing what we paid to watch them do?

    I tend to abide by Hitchcock’s rule of thumb: If a man is good at his job, the audience will follow him. If he’s bad at it, no amount of “relatable” emotions will make us like him. Look at Jessica Chastain in ZERO DARK THIRTY. We don’t know anything about her except she’s an asshole to her colleagues and unethical in her treatment of detainees, but we’re on her side anyway because she’s clearly good at what she does. People like watching people display their skills. This is why most talented people who do horrible things (Michael Vick, Roman Polanski) eventually get forgiven as long as they keep being good at what they do.

    The people in PACIFIC RIM suck at their jobs. They are shitty jaegermeisters. They’re trying to save me from alien invaders, and I am still not on their side. That is some bad storytelling right there.

  179. This is gonna be this year’s Ghost Protocol for you, isn’t it?

  180. Oh, it already is. I tried and I tried but it’s no use.

    But at least my second viewing has made me open to a sequel. The concept and talent involved (entire caucasian supporting cast excepted) are enough to give it another shot.

  181. – Knox

    I`m gonna butt in, having defended Evangelion on this board several times…

    Evangelion has went through several versions.

    The original series (26 episodes) lost it budget due to the directors mental breakdown. The last 2 episodes are pretty weird and kinda spoils the real ending; The End of Evangelion (the movie)

    Since the show was a massive hit in Japan (the infamous ending left to riots in Tokyo according to the internet), the managed to get money and re-animate a lot of the last low-budget episodes, and dropped the televised ending (episode 25 and 26). It`s released on dvd as the platinum edition and is the best way to experience the show (24 episodes)

    Then they got money to remake the ending. First the released Evangelion; Death and Rebirth, a theatrical feature which is basically a cut down version of the psychological drama of the series and the first act of End of Evangelion. It`s a nice way of preparing for the real ending; End of Evangelion, but brings nothing new to the story.

    And then, the feature End of Evangelion. And it is fucking amazing.

    So; the series episode 1-24 and the movie End of Evangelion, is the best way to watch the story.

    They remade the show with four theatrical features (the last one being released in 2014 if I remember correctly). It is turning into something very different than the original tv-show, and might not be a remade but an actual continuation of the story, but nobody knows exactly what the hell is going on yet. I like it, but it doesn`t have the same mindfucking impact as the original show. I would definetly wait with checking it out till after the original series, since it spoils a lot of the amazing twists of the story.

    Also, watch it with the original japanese soundtrack, it`s way way better than the american dubbing.

  182. Sorry, I think I just broke the record for typos, hope it make sense anyway…

  183. Cool. As long as you don’t go all asimov on us and start calling it Pathetic Rimjob or something.

    Damnit, I still haven’t seen Into Darkness, which means I can’t read Vern’s review, which means I can’t read asimov’s comments. Haven’t had a good Jar Jar Abrams line in a while.

  184. Thanks a lot, dna. That’s very helpful. I’ll try to check it out when I can.

    I find it tough to get into some anime shows, but I think I might enjoy Evangelion. Also, it helps knowing that there’s actually a lot less of it to watch than I initially thought.

  185. Knox: You don’t have to worry about that. I try not to let myself be defined by the things I don’t like. (Although I’m right on the line with EXPENDABLES 2.) You’re not gonna catch me bringing up PACIFIC RIM in unrelated conversations. Asimov, god bless him, couldn’t even get through a heartfelt post about his medical situation (which I am NOT making light of and I wish him nothing but health and happiness) without getting in a dig at Abrams. That level of single-mindedness seems exhausting. I’d rather talk about awesome stuff.

  186. End of Evangelion contains some of the most surreal imagery you will ever see in your life, it’s like if Alejandro Jodorowsky made an anime

  187. Guys, this movie hurt me and I need to come somwhere I feel safe and talk about it.

    First up: The accents. Really, Sr del Toro, you couldn’t find an American bland leading man anywhere in Hollywood? Or two actual Australians? And how did you get a Japanese girl to play a Japanese girl and still sound wrong? Is this your twisted revenge on Hollywood for decades of shitty Mexican accents? But those Australians… holy fuck… I couldn’t even begin to pay attention to what was supposed to be going on in any of their scenes. They make Dick van Dyke sound like Gary Oldman.

    Second up: The “characters”. After the fucking weird why-didnt-he-just-make-this-part-3-of-a-trilogy 15 full minutes of super compressed worldbuilding and exposition, we get introduced to two fairly bland protagonists who immediately have deep personal shit happen to them BEFORE WE EVEN VAGUELY START TO GIVE TWO THIRDS OF A FUCK ABOUT THEM. The AICN nurds talk about del Toro like he’s a geek’s geek, but for fucks sake dude if you’re such a supergeek, watch Star Wars again and this time pay attention to the full seventy minutes where they arent having an epic space action battle.

    Third up: The “action”. You wrote a scene where a giant robot shows up to fight a giant monster in future Hong Kong and it’s swinging a boat around like a baseball bat AND IT’S STILL UNDERWHELMING. That’s on you buddy. That scene should have pretty well filmed itself.

    Fourth up: Soul. Movie has none. Not in a bland forgettable way, but in an in your face, creepy way. Like an android that won’t stop hitting on you.

    Oh and if they are mentally bonded while they’re driving the robot WHY THE FUCK DO THE NEED TO BARK ORDERS AT EACH OTHER.

    Thanks for listening guys. I feel a bit better.

  188. “Oh and if they are mentally bonded while they’re driving the robot WHY THE FUCK DO THE NEED TO BARK ORDERS AT EACH OTHER.”

    According to the writer, it helps them focusing. (Also what is the alternative? Either this or showing them barking orders at each other within some kind of imaginary fantasy world in their heads.)

  189. That was beautiful, anaru. Remember this: You are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

  190. In Round 2 of MAJESTYK MAKES AMENDS 2014, I took on my second-most contentious release of 2013. This one was the most baffling to me, because it’s not like I went in with a chip on my shoulder like I did, say, EVIL DEAD 2013. I love del Toro, love giant monsters, love big-ass robots, love earnest derring-do and against-all-odds heroism. The movie’s so far up my alley I should start charging it rent. Yet it just didn’t connect with me on any level, even after I gave it another shot in the cinema to make sure I wasn’t just being a prick that one time.

    I still can’t put my finger on it, but at no point does the movie excite me. I find myself arguing with it the whole time (“Why didn’t you use your sword before?” “Why make such a big deal out of drift-compatibility if the climax won’t rely on it?” “Why is Charlie Day a working actor?”) instead of getting swept up in it. That’s a tough hurdle to clear, because this is a movie designed to instill a child-like glee in its audience. If all it does is make you extra critical, there’s not much there to latch onto.

    I particularly hated the visual presentation of the drift, with its Avid-farty, CBS-police-procedural-looking memory ghosting that managed to be both distracting to the action and unhelpful in explaining how the drift works. The whole drift concept was interesting in concept, but in practice it all just added up to a delivery device for the kind of labored traumatic backstory that no popcorn picture seems to think it can live without these days.

    However, even deep in the throes of butthurtedness (which you can witness above, in all its glory) I still wanted to see all the special features and shit. While I might not enjoy the movie, I knew I’d enjoy hearing del Toro talk about how he made it. And I was right. Having seen all the behind-the-scenes docs and listened to the commentary track on the blu-ray, I find all the work that went into the design of this movie to be pretty fascinating. I believe that del Toro put all his nerdly love into this project, and he clearly set out to make a moving and exciting love letter to the genre movies of his youth. I still think the movie is kind of a lame duck, with uncharismatic characters (including the absolute shittiest Ron Perlman role of all time; after decades of being the reliable old salt in material that’s beneath him, he’s finally reached latter-day Bruce Campbell levels of smug self-awareness), poorly presented action, and story beats that frustrate more than they intrigue. It still saddens me how little enjoyment I get out of what should have been one of the most joyous movie of the year for me, particularly since everyone else seems to find it to be the very dictionary definition of “fun.”

    But seeing it on blu-ray has at least shown me how the movie is supposed to be watched: in freeze frame, standing a foot from the screen so you can spot all the billions of little details that are smuggled into every frame. It all goes by in a mushy blue-black blur when you watch it at full speed, but as a series of still images, it’s pretty beautiful. I applaud all the hard work and attention to detail that went into creating these shots, while not actually liking the movie they’re stranded in.

    That’s why I prefer listening to the commentary to the actual audio track. You can still see all the eye candy, but instead of having to hear these awful, unlikeable characters express their manufactured melodrama and not-as-cool-as-they-think-they-are one-liners, you hear del Toro’s mellifluous Mexican accent explaining what he was going for. It’s not a good movie, but as a platform for del Toro to talk about monsters and shit, it’s top notch.

    ORIGINAL RATING: * 1/2 (for dull set-pieces, gratuitous Charlie Day, and general wasted potential)
    REVISED RATING: ** 1/2 (for behind-the-scenes elbow grease and creator-inspired goodwill)

  191. After three viewings, I am going to have to admit that this is a bad movie. I enjoyed the Hong Kong sequence and flashback to Mako’s childhood but all the other action sequences were not any good and I pretty much hate all the characters. Has that bad problem were Mako is clearly the main character but the movie insists that bland boring white guy is. I cannot believe Hollywood made a giant monster and robot movie, cast a (once) favored director of mine to make it, spent a ton of money on it, my fellow nerds loved it, and I didn’t dig it. It’s like they made the movie just for me and I dismiss it as not good enough. Now I feel bad for not liking this very not good movie.

    To anime fans: I’m not that big into anime anymore and do not keep up with it as much unless something really catches my eye that a friend or someone will recommend to me. So that said, defending this movie’s bad parts (in other words the whole thing) by saying ‘Well that’s a trope in anime’ does your love and enthusiasm of the medium no favors.

    Examples: ‘Oh you didn’t like how they kept setting up cool shit and ignored it in favor of focusing on terribly-written and tropey characters? Well in anime..’

    ‘Oh you didn’t like how the world seems to be stitched together ideas of things that sounded cool at the time instead of a plausible living world? Well in anime…’

    I hope you see where I am going with this…

    To make matters worse, I loathed Crimson Peak as well. That means he made three bad ones in a row and I fear that I may have fallen out of love with del Toro’s movies.

  192. Well, we got a trailer for the sequel that back in 2013 nobody expected to see. While I’m excited, it’s obvious that this one seems to be more the “mindless fun” version of PACIFIC RIM. It really makes you appreciate how much thought and care del Toro put into ensuring that those giant robots and monsters look heavy and “real” and not like weightless Power Rangers costumes.

  193. Despite me finally having to admit that Mr. M is right and PR is really bad (I was on the whole ‘it’s okay there was that one part?’ until a re-watch not too long ago). But my love of giant monsters and also robots and such will over-ride my massive disappointment of PR and thus I do look forward to this one.

  194. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 6th, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    That trailer makes me wish Boyega had been the lead in the first one. Love that guy. Seems he’s decent at speeching too, that’s always a plus.

  195. I would say the first Pacific Rim is pretty mindless too. It’s not that smart or interesting.

  196. I have this reoccurring experience (nightmare?) every time the latest trailer for some nerd-friendly property comes out and I read people talking about how it “actually looks pretty good”, and then I watch it and it’s the same Zimmer-bonging, po-faced ominous-talkin’ bullshit narration, zero-assed bogus one-liners, and overblown CGI jizz jazz as literally every other trailer ever and I have no idea how you guys can even tell these things apart long enough to situate them on a “good” to “bad” spectrum in relation to each other.

    Also, the first movie is an extremely fucking wack Independence Day for people who wear fingerless gloves and/or trilbys and I believe that ringing the bell loudly and frequently on this incontrovertible fact will be an important part of preventing the West’s slide into total cultural moronization and so on.

  197. In case some of you are interested in the DJ side of Idris Elba (which is btw something he already did before he got into acting, so it’s not another “Celebrity tries to jump on a bandwagon” thing), he just dropped this mix for Traxsource (unfortunately audio only).

    Traxsource LIVE! #142 with Idris Elba

    Idris Elba is in the building this week! The multi-talented artist/actor drops his brand new release via Doorly’s Reptile Dysfunction imprint. Elba lines up an hour of party tunes on the show for us,

    (Random side note: I love that he plays some tracks that I dropped in my sets before too.)

  198. It’s interesting to read some of the complaints here. People think it’s soulless but that’s the entire reason people hate on the new one, they think it lacks the soul of Del Toro’s original. For the record, I thought the new one was fine as I’m not a huge fan of the first for the narrative and character flaws everyone else brings up, although I think the action is quite good.

    @zero-mentality: Who hurt you? Because you clearly don’t see how stupid of you it is to personally attack the people who like the film, only to follow it up with this string of “I am so very smart” word vomit: “this incontrovertible fact will be an important part of preventing the West’s slide into total cultural moronization and so on” proving to everyone that you have the EXACT kind of attitude that “people who wear fingerless gloves and/or trilbys” have. The irony is fucking palpable.

  199. Can we talk for a moment (again) about IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA?

    Recently Germany finally got the further seasons after being stuck in season 5 for years (currently we are in season 12) and I admit that the show amazes me in the way it cracked the “This is offensive and built around shock value, but you won’t feel dirty if you watch it and despite some missteps, we are on the right side of history” code.

    Seriously, this is a show about awful people, saying and doing awful things, but it never enters Seth MacFarlane-esque “Haha, rape and the holocaust, amirite? Are you offended yet!? It’s just a joke, bro!” territory. Usually when they use taboo topics for their jokes, it’s built around the cluelessness of the characters, in a way that actually makes the tired “We aren’t supposed to see these people as role models!” excuse legit. Hard to explain and hard to put my finger on it, but it works!

    I guess it helps that the protagonists may be be pieces of shit, yet still have some signs of decent-human-being-ness. For example they would never be racist on purpose and they are actually shocked when they recognize that one of them says something racist, which he usually do because he doesn’t know it is racist. One great episode (THE GANG HITS THE SLOPES) is mostly a parody of 80s comedies, but spends a surprising amount of time commenting on the awfulness of certain sexist comedy tropes of that time, like the infamous shower peeping scene in PORKY’S. Yet it never feels hypocritical that a show, who has one protagonist who is an obsessed stalker and another one who likes to mentally abuse women into sleeping with him, calls out these jokes. (And even in those two cases the humor comes more from the respective characters’ being completely oblivious about the awfulness of their actions, than from “Lol, they treat women bad!”

    And again, I don’t really know HOW they do it, but I guess it helps that the actors/writers are in real life good people, who actually own their mistakes. When they were for example called out for their overuse of the word “tranny” in early seasons, their response was (paraphrased): “We thought it would be okay to use it in our context, since the characters are clearly idiots, but we didn’t know how powerful that word is” and not “Sorry IF you were offended. Waaah, we are getting cancelled! Wokeness is preventing us from being funny! Free speech!”

    So yeah, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. Great show, much smarter than your usual tasteless button pusher comedy, even if I know that it isn’t for everybody. (The episode THE GANG DESPERATELY TRIES TO WIN AN AWARD even adresses almost word for word one of the problems that Mr Majestyk has with it!)

  200. What, all the screaming? How did they address that?

    ALWAYS SUNNY is definitely a guilty unpleasure for me. But at this point I’m not gonna plow through 300 episodes hoping I’ll like it eventually.

  201. It’s one of those shows that only have 10 episodes or less per season, plus several run under 20 minutes, so it wouldn’t be that time consuming, but I respect your point.

    Anyway, the episode is a thinly disguised jab at award shows always nominating the formulaic laugh track sitcoms (At that time. I guess if they made the episode today, it would be more about shows that are actually dramas with a few chuckles, getting all the comedy awards). They try to win an award for their bar, but start to wonder why they never even get nominated, so they list possible reasons and the conversation goes at one point: “Maybe it’s all the screaming in here that turns everybody off?” “But that’s what we do! We have heated conversations that turn into screaming matches” *everybody starts yelling at each other*

    Knowing that this was always your main complaint, it made the scene extra funny.

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