July 14th, 2013


Pacific Rim: The Good, The Bad, and the Weird

Went to see Pacific Rim yesterday. Some thoughts:

The Good:

  • This was basically a catalogue of all your favorite scenes from giant-robot anime, rendered lovingly in realistic 3-D live action. Be still my geeky heart. In fact, this movie probably works best if you pretend it's anime.

  • Some good acting performances, particularly from Idris Elba.

  • The film generally manages to treat the sole major female character, Mako Mori, with respect for both her skills and her ambitions.

  • Burn Gorman playing a totally uptight British scientist! I would have been happy with more research team in the movie.

The Bad:

  • Large chunks of this were scripted by numbers. There were lots of scenes where I found myself saying, "Okay, this is the scene where they disobey orders and something terrible happens that results in him leaving the force in disgrace," "This is the scene where our disgraced heroes save the day and redeem themselves in the eyes of the rest of the team," and so on.

  • Only one major female character. And a dearth of female characters generally. It's nice that one of the Russian Jaeger pilots is female, but it would have been nice to see more female faces among the operations team, the pilot trainees, and so on.

The Weird:

  • I know that Hollywood has a long and dishonorable tradition of portraying the effects of electromagnetic pulse weaponry inaccurately. But just for the record, the opposite of "digital" is not "nuclear," it's "analog". And analog circuitry, while it might be less vulnerable to the effects of EMP, is not immune. What you really needed in that situation was a steam-powered giant robot.

  • This film features an American played by an Englishman, and two Australians played by an American and an Englishman. They all do a pretty good job, but an alert viewer can entertain themselves pretty well by playing "spot the accent slippage."

In summary, I wouldn't call this a must-see film by any means, but if you go in with the appropriate expectations, you're likely to have a good time.