Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em

This blog has a built-in filter. Since I'm not an actual reviewer or critic, I don't have to go to movies that look terrible, so if I was your only window into the summer movie season, you'd think things have been going pretty well. That's not so. This has mostly been a terrible summer for movies, and thankfully, I don't have to suffer through After Earth or Grown Ups 2 or The Lone Ranger to prove it. I can just go to the movies that look like they've got something special to offer. So today, I'd like to discuss the socioeconomic messages of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, and how they don't really work within the context of a dystopian society.

Nah, I'm just yanking your chain. It's a movie with giant monsters versus giant robots! Directed by someone with an actual eye for style and storytelling! How could I pass it up? While Pacific Rim is somewhat formulaic (it's essentially Independence Day with the monsters coming from below, rather than above), the execution is extremely well done. In the near future, giant monsters (kaiju) erupt from under the ocean floor, and begin systematically wiping out coastal cities. Humanity is able to fight back with giant robots (jaegers), but the battle escalates when the kaiju get bigger and the bureaucratic global military community is unwilling to continue financially supporting the jaeger program.

So what's left? Why, a ragtag bunch of soldiers dedicated to making the most of the few remaining robots! A single pilot can't handle the burden of a jaeger, so a duo of pilots with mental compatibility must work together to bring each kaiju down. After losing his brother to one of the monsters, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) builds rapport with rookie Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), but she's been benched by the military's leader (Idris Elba), who has raised her and doesn't want her to come to harm. There are also a pair of scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman), who each have their own theories about the kaijus' motives and plans.

The battles between the kaiju and jaegers are shot and edited extremely well. Unlike other blockbusters that shall remain Transformers, I never had any issues figuring out what was going on, and could easily tell where both the good guys and the bad were positioned. The film does suffer from a few ailments that afflict most big, summer eyegasms. The characters aren't particularly developed. The comic relief is overly hammy. Despite the premise that Mako is a strong, proficient solider, there's a bit of the let's-save-the-helpless-woman trope going on. None of these issues ruin the movie, though, and del Toro compensates for them as best he can while still serving up some dazzling spectacle. His eye for detail is incredible; this is far and away the movie I've most enjoyed visually so far this year. And for an extra little bit of fan-service, it was awesome to catch GLaDOS' voice as the military complex's computer. Now that's who you want to hear when a mechanical giant punches an enormous fish monster in the face.

Pacific Rim: B


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