It’s November! That means it’s time for another awesomely great blogathon over at the wonderful Cara’s blog Silver Screen Serenade – NOOOOvember. The purpose of this fine blogathon is to celebrate disappointment and purge the feelings of regret and anger that arise after watching a bad film that you had high expectations for. I really love this blogathon and I think you should read everyone’s posts. Meanwhile, here is my post on a certain film that disappointed me recently.
I recently took a very long plane trip (about fourteen hours long, to be precise), and on that trip I watched five films because I’m that kind of person. One film I watched was Pacific Rim (2013, dir. Guillermo del Toro) – the perfect candidate for the lovely Cara’s NOOOOvember series. Pacific Rim is a film so filled to the brim with redonkulosity and logical inconsistencies that I fell asleep twice whilst watching it. The film’s synopsis is as follows:
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse. (source)
Pacific Rim begins with what feels like seven hours of exposition about the world the film is set in, and a backstory to one of the main characters, played by Charlie Hunnam. I seriously cannot remember his character’s name, so let’s call him Jax Teller as that’s Hunnam’s name in Sons of Anarchy. There is so much setup in this film for little payoff. A whole bunch of backstory, both in terms of world and characters, leads to a pretty simple story in the present day of the film – which makes me think that it could have been done so much more effectively, or that the first seven hours (approximately) didn’t even need to happen. Exposition really is a tricky thing. I sometimes think it can make or break a film. The exposition here could easily have been integrated into the present day storyline in order to create a more streamlined and engaging viewing experience, which definitely speaks to the larger editing issues of this film.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure my expectations for this were especially high. I think the least that I wanted from a film to watch on a plane was that it kept me awake, and to see some giant robots and monsters fight one another. Firstly, Pacific Rim did not keep me awake. You could technically blame the fact that I had been on a plane for a while at that point, but really, a great film can keep the most jetlagged of individuals awake through the sheer force of its excellence. One might even call that the test of a good film, but I digress. I think I even fell asleep during a fight scene once when watching this film.
As for the giant monsters and robots, they were presented pretty nicely in the film. One thing you cannot fault with a Guillermo del Toro film is its visuals, and Pacific Rim is no exception. The giant robots have really cool designs, and the monsters are kind of terrifying. But here comes another issue with the film – for a technology that is meant to be super amazing in terms of defending the world, they sure did get dominated quickly and often. You could argue that this is as a result of the monsters getting stronger over time, but when the audience is told over and over that these robots are awesome and are responsible for defending the world, to see certain ones get ruined immediately goes against everything we were told. The technology seems really fragile, which doesn’t match up. It’s weird, and disappointing. Plus the fight scenes seemed to mostly be at night time and that was disappointing because visibility was an issue.
The good things about this film? Ron Perlman as a creepy monster collector. Charlie from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia as a monster-obsessive scientist was a nice surprise. The cinematography, occasionally. Idris Elba puts in an alright performance but everyone else seems to struggle with the extremely dumb script. I feel like I’m missing something with this film because it did receive generally good reviews. It currently has 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and a solid 7.1 on IMDb.
My major problem with Pacific Rim is that the concept of this film has been done better before. Back in the late 90s there was an amazing Japanese anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I loved at the time and still love to this day. It was created by a crazy genius named Hideaki Anno. Pacific Rim has pretty much ripped off the concept, and has somehow dumbed it down at the same time. In Evangelion, a select few talented people pilot giant robots to defeat giant monsters that are set on destroying the world. However, the difference is that in Evangelion this central plot is intertwined with a hardcore exploration of philosophy, religion, humanity and morality, and is seriously dark and complex. Pacific Rim feels like a watered down version of something that has a lot more soul and substance, and that is completely stupid.
If you want to watch giant robots and giant monsters punch one another, then Pacific Rim meets this basic requirement. You can just turn your brain off and watch this uncritically, and enjoy the crazy monster action for what it is. But if you want to watch something a little bit more complex, may I please direct you to the above classic Japanese animation – you’ll get a lot more out of it, and it probably won’t be as disappointing an experience as this.
Watch the trailer here.
Watch this film at Amazon!