I am a big fan of the Battletech strategy game and its bigger MechWarrior universe. This adoration is going way back to the late eighties and early nineties when I had the box set with the cardboard Mechs, my beloved Marauder one of them, that would eventually become the “Unseen“. Needless to say, I have always highly anticipated a movie depicting the on going of the Inner Sphere.
Unfortunately I’ve had to sate my appetite for the action with cheesy cartoons and really bad post-apocalyptic flicks like Robot Jox. It’s enough crap to make you throw your hands in the air because it seems no one will ever get it right.
Well my hands are back down. Someone did get right.
They made Pacific Rim.
Earth is being invaded by aliens. Only these aliens aren’t coming from above, their coming from below. Beneath the Pacific Ocean is a rift in time-space allowing inter-dimensional travel, and every few months a new monster comes forth. These monsters are known as Kaiju (Japanese for monster) Once we realize the threat will not subside, we build better weapons in the forms of ginormous robotic mecha called Jaegers (German for hunter).
While the Jaegers are winning, things are great. Cities rebuild and of course the existence of both the Jaegers and Kaiju are merchandised. Then the Jaegers start losing, the Kaijus are coming faster, and shit hits the fan.
The movie is very quick paced. It gives you the run down you just read in about 90 seconds and then drops you into the action. The action itself is fierce, dynamic, and actually believable if you’re familiar with mecha machinations. The acting is nothing Academy winning but is really good.
Let’s be honest, if you’re a mecha fan you need to acknowledge the Japanese visionaries of such anime as Mazinger Z, Gundam, and the US break through Robotech. Naming the opposing alien creatures the Kaiju is both a nod to the genre origins as well as paying homage to the origination of ginormous monster movies like Godzilla. I’m good with it. In fact I think that makes it richer, along with the use of the German.
My two criticisms of the movie are that they really don’t do enough with the Russian and Chinese Jaegers and their teams. They appear for what literally seemed to be a whopping 90 seconds. The other complaint I have is the whole climactic speech that Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost is tapped to deliver. In a moment where he tries to channel his inner Bill Paxton from Independence Day he falls flat. Like bonk on his nose flat. All the hubris of cancelling apocalypses and stuff is actually very anti-climactic. Had I written the scene, it would have gone something like this:
Stacker Pentecost crosses the Jaegar Hangar in a sleek, black, neoprene drift suit. As he strodes towards his Jaeger, Striker. His new found friend Dr. Newton Geiszler runs to him and says, “But Stacker this is a suicide mission! I need more brains!”
Pentecost turns to his friend. Reaches out with his hand to gently hold his chin within it and says, “Then I’ll see you in hell.” As Geiszler’s eyes look down in sadness, Stacker smacks him unconscious with the helmet in his other hand.
Pentecost finishes walking up the stairs to the elevator platform, turns, and calls out across the hangar, “Jaeger drivers! Good hunting! Mount up!”
The elevator ascends with Stacker Pentecost to battle the final Kaiju…
So next time you get stuck on the climax Guillermo, ring me. I’ll write it for you. Anything is better than, “We are canceling the apocalypse!” like its a bad date to a chick flick or something. Overall though, loved Pacific Rim. If you haven’t seen it and are a fan of this type of movie then go see it.
No, really… I mean now.