Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pacific Rim REVIEW

     If Pacific Rim promised to be an XX-Large size bucketful of fun, it certainly doesn't achieve it. It's not an X-Large bucket either. It is however a regular Large sized bucket. Definitely better than the Medium size. And it's probably for the best that you'd took the Large because in all probability you'd get a stomach-ache if you took the X-Large which you can't finish; and they probably didn't have enough fun to fill up an XX-Large bucket to begin with so wisely cut out the fat. So what you get is a satisfying film that doesn't let you overeat to the point where the fun doesn't taste as nice as it did when you started.

     Pacific Rim runs at a quick clip. You're in, you're given quick and brief exposition as to what's going on, and finally you're off. And what's going on is that a portal to another dimension opens up on Earth at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where gargantuan sized monsters (Kaiju) begin to surface and then set about wrecking human civilization. In order to fight them mankind builds their own gargantuan fighting robots (Yeagers). And where you're off to is the story about putting down those monsters and closing up the hole that allows them to come through for good.

     The Yeagers are run by two pilots, each with a neat psycho-synch ratio that allows them to mind merge to be like the left and right hemispheres of the robot's brain. Doing this requires finding people of close compatibility who get along and can fight as a team. As a side effect, each pilot becomes intimately knowledgeable of the memories and lives of their partner.

     Most of the drama surrounding Pacific Rim is focused on the relationships of the pilots. Whether between the duo themselves or even with regards to other teams; particularly in light of the fact that overtime mankind creates a spectacle out of the robot vs. kaiju war and fighting well garners acclaim and celebrity-status. A whole marketing and merchandising industry sets itself up around the various countries' Yeager teams which also helps boost humanity's morale. Pacific Rim has a neat way of paying attention to how the world has changed since the kaiju's appearences; how people deal with the aftermath; how mankind even finds ways to thrive and make a living off the creatures themselves. It's both interesting and also wildly comical. The world of Pacific Rim has a lot going for it and is definitely it's biggest strength.

     But Pacific Rim's weakness lies in some bad acting, particularly from our male lead. Charlie Hunnam plays a man who alongside his brother pilots the Yeager known as Gipsy Danger. But after a failed mission, he finds himself out of a job, and also sets off a public downturn in the Yeager program when higher level class kaiju start appearing making things difficult for mankind once again. However, his commander still has faith in the program and scrambles together a team of the last remaining Yeagers and calls Hunnam's character back to work. But this time, he will have to team up with somebody new; one of his potential candidates being a Japanese woman played by Rinko Kukichi, who is a well established Japanese actress who's done Hollywood films before, but remains relatively unknown; though some anime trivia fans may remember her role in the anime 'Sky Crawlers' by Mamoru Oshii.

     The dialogue in Pacific Rim is played up to be hammy by design; in a manner similar to films like Independence Day for example. And some of the wacky supporting characters pull it off very well to be entertaining; particularly an odd pair of scientists who work with the military on studying the kaiju and who play a pivitol role thanks to their discoveries. The odd one out however, is our male lead... Actor Charlie Hunnam doesn't do a good job and doesn't seem to like being there. It feels like he's reading his lines from memory instead of acting them. This does bog down the film a bit, particularly early on where the film is setting up who everyone is and how they interact with each other. Thankfully, once we get past it and into the action, the film carries on quite well despite him.

     It is the action and effects that take center stage and frankly are primarily the reason why you picked up this bucket in the first place so they had better be! Old school fans of classic Japanese kaiju/mecha cinema and anime certainly will have a ball with all the fun Del Toro has in store. Buildings will be smashed, blows will be exchanged, rockets will be fired. You'll feel like a kid in a playground again doing precisely the sort of thing you imagined in your mind as you moved your action figures back and forth causing total destruction of the landscape with the tiny ant-sized people pointing and gasping at the spectacle. One point of contention is that whole I enjoyed what I got, I personally felt like I was deprived of more. One downside being that some of the supporting Yeagers are dispensed off early on and too easily. Certainly I believe the trailers and marketing show a bit too much, but on the flip side, if they hadn't, then it's likely the film might've done worse at the box office. There are still some genuine surprises in store that are fantastic when you seem them, but by the end you'll definitely feel that the climax lacks the punches that the middle portion had.

     I watched the film in 3-D. The film was developed as an odd mix of both converted and native content. Del Toro never shot the film in 3-D, but always suspected that at the last minute that the studio would tell him to convert it; so he had the FX teams already develop their stuff with native 3-D in mind, and whatever live action on-set footage was shot was converted. The conversion is pretty good, almost flawless with not much of the rush job stuff seen in other films. On the other hand, like most films not shot natively in 3-D, the film utilizes things like shaky-cam shots that can be uncomfortable in 3-D, particularly when things get messy. Other experienced 3-D film-makers would work around the limitations of current 3-D to find other ways of conveying the same thing. But on the whole, the 3-D was fine.

     Pacific Rim is a fun sized package, though the radioactive warning stickers on it might put off some people who aren't so interested in the genre and don't want to lower their brows this low for a few hours. The film is filled with humour and spectacle with some really lovely shots and one can't help but make comparisons to anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion. I believe Del Toro set up some shots to be deliberately so! Fans of the Portal video games will also recognize GLaDOS's cameo appearances. I definitely recommend Pacific Rim to anyone out there who is a geek for such stuff, or anyone looking for a neat straightforward action/comedy summer flick to kill some time. Also the toys are pretty sweet, so check them out the next time you're down at our store!