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Pacific Rim: It’s All About the Monsters Getting Punched in the Face

July 19, 2013

Pacific Rim movie poster

I really liked Pacific Rim but it felt like Del Toro wrote it in an hour by slamming his beefy hands on a laptop. Here is my theory as to how this film happened.  Del Toro wasted years trying to adapt The Hobbit, Mountains of Madness and Hellboy 3. So, one night he decided to write his own film. He drew a doodle, got lucky and sold Warner Brothers on the idea of monsters vs. robots. Throughout all the scouting, CGI prep and choreography he totally forgot to write a second draft.

Fun, dumb and full of monster scum. Pacific Rim is a rock ’em sock ’em adventure with a soul crushing script and fantastic imagery. Guillermo Del Toro reportedly wrote 400 pages of back story, scouted many locations and painstakingly created beautiful robots and monsters. However, the film raises many inadvertent questions. Who are these people? Why are their accents so wonky? Why don’t they use that sword every time? Why don’t they use missiles? Why is that one guy so angry? Where did the 400 pages of back story go? Did he write a 200 page autobiography about the fat ape monster called “This is Who I Am..A Monster?”

You wonder how a man who made a talking fish, fire starter and Hellboy seem human could write such a weird script. He works so hard at creating beautiful carnage he forgot to make anything else interesting. The movie got me thinking about Independence Day. ID featured wholesale destruction, memorable action and likable characters. Remember when Randy Quaid sacrifices himself to save the world? That scene was fantastic to a 14 year old me. You cared for the characters and that is why the movie made boatloads of money. The biggest problem with Pacific Rim are the characters.

Pacific Rim is about monsters who come out from a portal in the Pacific and run amok on the populace. The world leaders unite and start building giants robots to guard the coastline. The robots start winning and all is good until the monsters adapt and start crunching the robots. The robot program is discontinued in favor of a giant wall. However, the monsters destroy the wall and the humans are forced to make a last stand with four robots piloted by Russians, Japanese, Australians (I think the accents went in and out) and a cocky American.

What follows are MASSIVE FIGHTS, CGI monsters and zero character development. Ultimately, you leave the theater with a smile on your face. It is hard not to appreciate the scale of the film. Del Toro has made a genuine blockbuster that will undoubtedly be a favorite of many kids and teenagers.  You watch in awe as thousands of people work on a robot in a massive factory. You smile when a robot hits a monster in the head with a 200 yard tanker. You appreciate the realism when teeth are punched out of a monster’s face. 

What I love most about this film are the nasty monsters. They are mean, resourceful and want to kill everything. They show zero emotion and go for the throat 100% of the time. What began as a level one monster crushing San Francisco progressed to level four monsters wiping out robots. The monsters are like bosses in a video game. They get bigger and badder until the level five final behemoth boss.

Pacific rim monsters

Pacific Rim is a rollicking good time. It was built to please and it succeeds on most levels. I just wish the characters would have been as three dimensional as the large robots and portal monsters.

Welcome back Del Toro! Glad to have you around. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

Check out John’s review!

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