Pacific Rim (2013)

Giant robot time!

Giant robot time!

As I have probably made abundantly clear on this blog, I am an anime otaku who is also a recent graduate of Cornell University’s mechanical engineering program with a minor in East Asia Studies with a focus on Japan. That is all you need to know as to why I decided to check out Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim’s story is one straight out of one of your favorite Japanese mecha anime (Neon Genesis Evangelion comes to mind) or monster movies (such as Godzilla), where humanity is facing off the alien threat known as the Kaiju in giant mechs known as Jaeger, and it comes complete with a pretty Japanese face in the form of Kikuchi Rinko as Mori Mako. It follows Raliegh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) as he once again climbs into the cockpit of a Jaeger in humanity’s last stand against the Kaiju in the wake of his brother’s death.

Pacific Rim is yet another summer blockbuster action movie, but of a decidedly different flavor from the pseudo-seriousness of Man of Steel or the mindless fun of Fast and Furious 6. It maintained a good middle ground in tone while actually succeeding in fleshing out its extremely diverse cast of characters, from Charlie Day as wacky scientist Newton Gozlier to Idris Elba’s stuffy British commanding officer Stacker Pentecost. In addition, barring Elba’s tragic pronunciation of Japanese, the cast turned in solid performances.

It’s possible that it’s a result of the fact that I have been watching a lot of movies for a very long time, and thus I kind of know how every movie (except for Alpha Girls or the first The Fast and the Furious, as both were unpredictable by virtue of the utter lack of logical progression from scene to scene) is going to play out in terms of basic plot structure. I did feel Pacific Rim was just a tad predictable. The plot was certainly a little bit on the thin side, but it was complete without leaving me feeling empty at all.

What the movie really accomplished was being the best-looking movie I have seen this summer as of yet. That’s nothing to sneeze at considering I have also seen Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness, both of which utterly impressed me with their special effects. Despite what I said in my rant about the trend toward shallowness, I’m still every bit as capable of appreciating a movie that is a CG orgy if it is well done, and Pacific Rim was an extremely well-done CG orgy. Guillermo del Toro loaded the screen with seriously impressive mech and monster designs, where every one managed to really have character. I led the auditorium in applause at the scene where Becket’s and Mori’s mech re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere after fighting a winged beast.

I’ll forgive the seriously botched Japanese that came from some of the characters (interestingly enough, from Kikuchi as well, who is surprisingly actually a Japanese woman hired to play a Japanese character) when awarding it its 3.5 out of 4. It may be the fact that this movie gave the part of me that is an otaku Cornell MechE alum a very pleasurable feeling in my pants, but I will say Pacific Rim is finally the movie that topped Star Trek Into Darkness as the best one I have seen this summer and is also this summer’s first Wall of Fame entry.

Score: 3.5/4

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