Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pacific Rim

In this 2013 film big monsters rise out of a Pacific trench which is really a “portal” to another universe and inflict carnage on various famous coastal cities such as Los Angeles, where most of the action takes place.  The script is not entirely horrible, with one iconic line that has already entered into the Valhalla of famous movie lines (“Today we are cancelling the apocalypse.”)  The acting is serviceable.  The production values are strong, and with one major exception the special effects are fine.  The problem is the monsters.  They seem to come straight out of a 1950s-era Japanese Godzilla film, men in rubber suits, lumbering around and swishing their various rubber appendages back and forth against people, bridges, buildings, and the giant robots the Japanese and Americans build to oppose them.  The robots also are giant costumes with men in them, but they are more convincing, insofar as giant robots can be convincing.  The story takes place ten years after the first robot attack.  The allies think they have permanently held them at bay, but boy are they wrong.  Those alien space monsters start spewing from the Pacific trench portal at increasingly alarming rates, and boy are they big monsters!  But the good guys come up with a plan, and in a last ditch effort they carry it off, though not without sacrificing two real heroes in the process.  Humanity is saved, at least for now.  The fun of this film is its silliness, and the serious way in which it pursues that silliness.  Turn it up loud, sit close and revel in the explosions and the robotic groans of consternation and the gradual momentum towards that final kiss between the man and woman who can’t stand each other but who have to be partners and who, what do you know, surprise, surprise, actually have the hots for each other.  Go robots!  Death to the alien space monsters from the portal to an alternative universe deep in the trench on the edge of the Pacific Rim! Guillermo del Toro knows the Japanese monster movie genre well, and this is one of the best examples of the category.  

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