Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is one heck of a movie. Just based on the trailers, we were promised giant robots, bigger monsters, rocket powered punches, and a ship turned sword. We got all of that and more in just over two hours of the best action movie I’ve seen in rather a while.

All together, the trailers (and the associated hype) were a lot to live up to. So how did it turn out?

Well, I liked how the beasts felt real and organic–albeit oddly glowing, but that’s well in line with their monster movie heritage. They moved with solid purpose. They had a beastly intelligence but just watching them chase after individuals a few times… They were hunting, trying to do some real damage to humanity.

I liked how the Jaeger pilots were treated as rock stars. It’s the sort of thing I could totally see happening–they’re a rare breed of highly trained soldiers, with the weight of the world resting on their shoulders. Also, Ellen McLain as not-quite-GLaDOS-but-still-awsome. Also also, the word Jaeger. It’s so much fun to say even before you figure in the German meaning.

I liked the glimpses we got into how the Kaiju changed society in the less obvious ways. Religious sects seeing them as the wrath of god; slums built on gigantic bones((It reminds me of this thread I’ve come across a few times)); a black market springing up around ground up Kaiju bits–all of it believable, all of it excellent world building.

I really liked the casting, particularly  as mix of traditional Japanese and anime action stereotypes,  and  as the bickering scientists, and  as the unhinged black market leader.  did well enough as lead and ’s “we’re canceling the apocalypse” speech was a solid echo of the Independence Day speech it’s surely based on. Great casting all around.

And finally, I liked the idea of the drift–the only way a pair of pilots could be synchronized enough to pilot such a horrendously complicated machine. It’s a little vague exactly how necessary it is (there are instances of a single pilot doing well enough for short periods) or exactly how in sync they have to be (from time to time the pilots don’t move at quite the same time). Still, it’s a neat idea and brings a lot of the character to the film.

Honestly, there was little enough that I didn’t care for. My biggest gripe would be that the whole idea of the Jaegers doesn’t make the least bit of sense. Whatever technology they needed to build those things? Surely there are better ways to take down the kaiju–although that wouldn’t have been nearly the movie. Also, if you go through all of the effort to build them… why in the world do you give up on them just to build walls. Surely you know that’s not going to work.

All together, those are small enough gripes for an altogether solid movie. I barely even noticed the seat beneath me–which for me is saying something. It’s an original take on old ideas, something nice to see in this day and age. A solid number one for the year and well worth seeing.