I was sold on Pacific Rim in a single sentence. A couple of guys were chatting about it on a Northern Line ride from Euston down to Waterloo and one turned to the other and said, ‘If you grew up making toy robots and plastic dinosaurs fight one another, you’ll absolutely love it!’
I’m happy to say that his statement , firmly applicable to mes (I once made the G1 Megazord fight the plastic T-Rex you got with Dinosaurs! magazine) is spot on. It’s a pretty awful film from a writer’s perspective, a cavalcade of cheesy one-liners that would make a camembert’s skin crawl. Not even Big ‘Dris can salvage the dialogue, and I burst out laughing more than once during his Big Speech. When he defiantly shouts,’We are cancelling the apocalypse!’ I had tears of mirth in my eyes.
I’d talk about the hilariously painful acting too, oh god the accents, but I don’t want to get too bogged down in negativity. You see Pacific Rim is one of those films where all of the focus is on one high concept so fundamentally pure that it can be described in three words: Robots against monsters.
It’s a paean to all of those phenomenally fun, city-ruining movies that have seen poor Tokyo reduced to rubble time and time again. To Harryhausen and Honda — over the top family films with big, obvious characters, and big, unrealistic entities smashing one another to bits, preferably entities thaat can then be turned into toys and cereal box pack-ins. It’s a film for all of those Transformers fans who wanted to witness giant robots in battle but without the casual racism, the awfully involved and indulgent plot lines, and the abundance of poorly scripted human drama (thanks, Michael Bay). There’s a time for human drama, but not when giant robots are fighting giant kaiju.
If there’s one genuine gripe I have with the film, it’s not that the bits other than action –oh my, the action is so sweet and impactful, none of this shaky-cam, fast-cut bullshit — are unerdeveloped, it’s that actually, the climactic fight is utter balls. The Hong Kong battle is immense, it takes up at least a quarter of the film, it’s so awesome. But after establishing the class system for the kaiju, and gearing his audience up for the pants-wetting BMF that is the Class 5 Kaiju (he warrants capitalisation), Del Toro gives us an underwater fight that’s really quite short, highly confusing, and a monster that really doesn’t look as if it differs all that much from a class 4 kaiju. In the end, the Big Bad is defeated with a glorified shank. It survives a massive bomb, but not a sword. What?
That aside, though I don’t care about any of the other little niggles. There are too many plot holes to count (like how the escape pod can pass through the rift even though the whole missions has been centred around needing kaiju DNA to get through), but at the end of the day Pacific Rim is one of those films that IMAX cinemas were invented for. I can’t imagine it’ll translate hugely well to a DVD environment, less still a digital piece for one’s tablet of choice. But in a dark room with a screen that is bigger than your field of vision, where Dolby magic assaults your ears from every direction, Del Toro’s gloriously silly slice of popcorn entertainment finds a perfect platform.
It’s big dumb fun, and it’s very good at it.