With spoilers! Because if you’re going to see this movie for the plot, you’ve missed the point. Although, I will address it, briefly. My husband’s biggest beef with the plot was that del Toro didn’t create a world in which people’s reactions to the monsters worked, something he thought was done very well in District 9. I thought about, and he’s right. It’s also probably the most succinct way to point out where the plot fails–it’s not that it’s fantastic, it’s just the world around it doesn’t support the fantasy.
Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite directors, and not just because Pan’s Labyrinth is an amazing movie. I enjoyed his Hellboy films (the second more than the first) and The Devil’s Backbone as well. He’s a talented director, and with Pacific Rim I think he accomplished his goal of making a modern Godzilla film. It is a movie that makes full use of the movie theater, the scale and the thumping sound system, and the 3D only adds to the fun.
If you’re sick of the lazy way directors slap the high action moments in orange/blue and mute the rest (like the last four Harry Potter films), you’ll be delighted with the palettes used here. Blues, pinks, reds, gold… The monsters (kaiju) remind me of the fantastic creatures of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and robots (jaegers) of old Transformers toys.
The characters were pretty slap-stick. Charlie from It’s Always Sunny is himself, only his obsession with rats has been replaced with one for the kaiju and he’s literate. The Russians pilot a first generation jaeger that looks like it’s designed to be repaired with a hammer on the tundra (muck like an AK-47). The Chinese triplets are all razzle-dazzle and red, much like their jaeger. Watching them fight it’s like Chinese New Years. The Englishmen of course have an English bulldog (at least their accents are English) and the youngest suffers from pugilist tendencies. They have the fanciest jaeger, and honestly, visually, it didn’t make that much of an impression on me. Of course I remember the main one, Gypsy Danger, which has a giant sword and a thermonuclear reactor in it’s chest, at least I think that’s what that glowing part is… It’s nicely symbolic too of how in the end Gypsy Danger and her fusion save the world. You know, chest, heart, that stuff.
Ron Perlman is a treat, and has the best exit of the film–down the gullet of an infant kaiju.
The action scenes are amazing, and really, why we went to see it in a theater. At one point, a robot boxes a monster’s ears with some shipping containers. It made me giggle. There’s lots of city smashing as they battle, shattering glass-plated skyscrapers and throwing cars at each other.
Hong Kong made me think of Blade Runner, although my husband told me that that’s what modern Hong Kong looks like, all fierce neon and saturated in humanity–a sci-fi future come to life.
The only major complaint I have, and this may be said of del Toro in general, was the music was only okay. I think he missed out by not finding a place for anything off of Mochipet’s album, Godzilla Rehab Center, all devilishly catchy tracks. His “Get some!” song packed less punch than “Problem” by Natalia Kills or “Might Like You Better” by Amanda Blank. I know dubstep is super trendy right now, but a little wub-dub wouldn’t have been remiss, or some death metal or something. I actually started thinking how his music was unimpressive when I caught an atrocious cover of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” on the first Hellboy. I know the original’s been used to death, but you couldn’t have substituted some other song like “Up Jumped the Devil” or any other brooding bad-ass sounding Nick Cave song? He wrote quite a few. The soundtracks are probably the place where I’d draw a distinction between him and directors like Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It’s almost like del Toro needs a music lover in his inner circle.
I wouldn’t let that keep you out of the theater though, because if you like pretty movies, and action, you’ll love Pacific Rim.