It’s Robots Punching Monsters 80 Times In The Face: A Review of ‘Pacific Rim’
I’m going to somewhat echo Vince Mancini’s review of Pacific Rim on FilmDrunk by saying that I, too, really, really hoped this movie would be something special. And it is, in places, but at the end of the day, and despite being an original screenplay that wasn’t a comic book or Young Adult bestseller, it’s just another summer blockbuster that blatantly rips and recycles pieces of previous summer blockbusters you’ve seen regurgitated a hundreds time over while you sit there and condition your brain to just hang on for the robot punching. The robot punching will make everything better. And don’t get me wrong, it does. If Zack Snyder had taken 1/100th of the care Guillermo del Toro put into his fight choreography into Man of Steel‘s last hour, it would’ve been a goddamn masterpiece. Which I guess is what frustrates me the most because you have one movie where the acting and the characters elevate the story and then everything turns into a CGI pinball game that you just want to end, and then you have another that’s all of that reversed. Because, holy shit, was Pacific Rim schlocky. The trailers wisely mislead you on the tone of this thing because it’s even more ham-fisted than you expect for a film where Idris Elba says he’s cancelling the apocalypse. Although, I’m seeing if you’re a huge anime fan, which I am not, that’s apparently not an issue, so there you go. Anyway, I’m already writing way too long of an intro for a movie that’s basically (a much, much better made) Transformers vs. Godzilla, so let’s get to it.
Because Pacific Rim at least had the audacity to be a somewhat original concept, I’m going to switch things up a bit. Instead of doing my usual “Shit That Shat” schtick, I’m literally just going to retell the movie to demonstrate how formulaic it is. And don’t worry about spoilers because there are absolutely zero. This puppy lives and dies on robot punching. Mostly I’m doing this for comedic effect (Also, not unlike Superman, sometimes my mind-penis just wants new and exciting word-vagina.), but also to free you up from thinking you have to go into this thing and pay attention to anything that’s not a hydraulic fist beautifully slamming into a giant monster face. In fact, instead of waiting until the end, I’ll get recommend seeing Pacific Rim out of the way now because if you are going to watch it, do it in a theater, preferably IMAX, because my God, the care put into the visuals. I only saw it in 2D, and the scope of the shots still made feel like I was on the ground about to get squashed in the dick by Jax Teller in a punching robot. It is good, dumb popcorn fun. In fact, for one last selling point, think of the robots as Bas Rutten, and the monsters as anyone or anything that’s not Bas Rutten:
So with that said, feel free to come back around after you catch Pacific Rim, or prepare to release your mind from the burden of going into it trying to absorb anything non-punched. Think of me as your red pill. (Or was it the blue one? Whichever one squirts kung fu into your brain.)
Pacific Rim: A Dramatic Retelling
The movie starts with green letters giving us the definition of kaiju, Japanese for “beast,” and jaeger, German for “hunter,” just in case you’re too stupid to figure out what they mean when they’re literally every other word out of every character’s mouth. Then again, maybe Guillermo del Toro just wants to make it clear he’s secretly a Nazi who dreams of German robots punching Japanese’s weird monster gods in the face. Did you see Pan’s Labyrinth? I wouldn’t put it past him.
But enough reading, here’s Jax Teller using his gruff, expository voice-over voice that lets you know he’s seen some shit. “We thought we were right about stuff once, but what we didn’t know… is that we were wrong about that stuff.”
AND, HELLO, KAIJU FUCKING UP THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. OHMYGOD THIS SHIT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME.
The voice-over continues. We learn that this is not going to be a movie where humans build badass, giant robots and have to learn to use them for the first time to battle kaijus because gruff Jax voice tells us all that cool shit already happened along with all the suspense that would’ve came with that, so.. yeah. But did you see that fucking shot with the bridge? Let’s hang in there. See where this goes.
Cut to a way-too-peppy, hasn’t-seen-some-shit-yet Jax and his brother Mike from Homeland who I’ll refer to as their original copy and pasted names of Maverick and Goose respectively for this sentence only. They start saying words. These words hurt my mind. I want the words to stop. Fortunately, they’re gearing up for a robot fight off the coast of Alaska which in case you haven’t paid attention to a single thing I’ve written, looks AWESOME. You’ll never guess how that fight ends. Unless you saw Top Gun. When Goose dies.
From there, somebody showed Guillermo del Toro some sweet concept art of a broken punching robot stumbling onto a beach, so here’s a bullshit scene to make that happen. For some reason. The important thing is we all saw it for a second, so let’s indiscriminately jump time without clearly noting said jump until much later in the movie when you don’t even give a shit because this thing’s starting to get a little light in the robot punching. But, first, here’s a title scene in case you forgot what movie you’re watching.
Shitty soundtrack music that doesn’t get any better… PACIFIC RIM!
Politicians hate the punching robots now, for some reason, and are going to put all their chips on a giant wall even though the movie just spelled out the kaijus are getting stronger and even the first ones ate through concrete like butter, but whatever. So they’re like, “Look, Sergeant Stringer Bell, we know these things are crazy expensive and powerful and it probably wouldn’t hurt to keep using them, but fuck it, take them to Japan and build a cool clubhouse with them. We like walls now.” Then that dude who got his tail cut off on Orphan Black is all smarmy and goes, “There’s your answer,” and we never seem him again for the rest of the movie. I felt this was important to point out. For some reason. (See? I can do it, too!)
Jax is a construction worker in Alaska now. And for all we know, it seems like he literally walked out of his crashed punching robot and decided to go union. I guess that happens in the future. Anyway, he’s working on one of the kaiju defense walls the world’s governments want to marry, and then we see a news clip where a kaiju cuts through one of these walls like butter which is what I just fucking said would happen. So now all the workers are pissed off, and understandably because, really, what’s the point of building this shit? Fortunately, we’ll never hear about walls or any of this ever again because Stringer Bell just showed up to do that scene where a general has to talk the reluctant soldier into one last fight. The words start hurting more than usual:
“This is my new life I started a few minutes ago.”
“Listen here, soldier, I know the last time you robot punched, your brother died right in front of your face while a giant sea monster pissed in the hole his carcass left. I also know it seems like I’m asking you this the day after it happened, but trust me, the movie will explain way later that it’s been five years even though I just said something about six months.”
“You don’t understand. When my brother died we were sharing minds, and I felt exactly what it feels like to die. That is about as fucked up as it can get, and there are no strange, macho words you can yell to get me anywhere near death or robots.”
“LET’S GO DIE IN ROBOTS!”
You know that scene in the first G.I. Joe when Dennis Quaid brings Channing Tatum‘s shitty Duke to their secret underground base and introduces him to everybody? That happens, but with giant punching robots and some Asian chick who totally wants to bone Jax just by watching him get out of a helicopter. She starts saying hurty words about finding him the right co-pilot for his punching robot because finding the right one to share minds with – or “drift” as the movie calls it – is absolutely crucial and doing it wrong comes with dire consequences, so you know this is a very important concept that won’t get tossed out the window the second it’s in the way of robot punching.
And now Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in the movie. Literally Charlie from It’s Always Sunny. Don’t get me wrong, he has glasses and is a scientist with a scientist name, but it’s totally Charlie. Anyway, him and his awkward British partner have competing theories on the kaiju, but more importantly we learn that the whole rest of the movie will be about doing that part in The Avengers where Iron Man flies the nuke into the wormhole, but underwater. So, to answer your question, yes, Guillermo del Toro watches movies in the tub.
As for those theories I mentioned, British guy is all like, “There’s going to be more kaiju because math,” while Charlie is all:
Also, something about wanting to drift with the kaiju? Honestly, that video explains it better.
Now it’s time to find Jax the best robot punching co-pilot which turns out to be Asian chick because they fought with karate sticks. Literally none of this is explained, and your poor brain’s like, “It’s been a long time since robot punching. Can we please have more robot punching?” But first, Stringer Bell has to be all, “Oh, no, bitch you ain’t.” And then we have to wait around until he finally decides that, okay, bitch you can. I almost died.
Oh, also, there’s a part where we’re introduced to Australian Iceman, so just know there’s an Australian Iceman floating around.
So Jax and Asian chick – I should probably start calling her Mako. – are finally in their robot for a test run, so you know that this is going to go smoothly and not be a situation where they work terrible together making it even more dramatic when they actually have to fight a kaiju for real. Except HOLY SHIT, things do not go smoothly. Turns out Jax’s memory of his brother dying sends Mako into a memory of when she was a little girl and a kaiju killed her whole family which apparently will make you start charging up your punching robot’s arm gun and this is why YOU CANNOT JUST TOSS TWO PILOTS TOGETHER INTO A PUNCHING ROBOT. IT CANNOT HAPPEN OR SHIT GOES BAD. Fortunately, everything is stopped at the last second, and we learn Stringer Bell raised Mako like a daughter which is why he’s all, “Bitch, don’t you get in that robot.”
Meanwhile, Charlie drifts with the kaiju, and after more Pepe Silva talk, we learn that they were in our dimension before. Maybe you heard of them? They were called DINOSAURS. *runs to Smithsonian, smashes T-Rex skeleton* Turns out the kaiju [Insert scene from Independence Day where Data learns the aliens are like locusts and want to eat all our natural resources here.] But Charlie needs more brains, so this is a great excuse to cram Ron Perlman into the movie because, haha, remember Hellboy? Another del Toro original, baby. BOO-YAH.
Jax and Australian Iceman have their, “You’re too dangerous and going to get us all killed” scene which is right about when my mind was about to drift with a incompatible co-pilot, God willing dying in the process as this movie has regularly pointed out, when THANK GOD IT’S ROBOT PUNCHING TIME. And not just any robot punching time. DOUBLE KAIJU ROBOT PUNCHING TIME.
You see, now there are two monsters out there which has never happened before, but Stringer Bell can’t have an untested rookie out there, so he benches Jax and Mako. Almost as if saving them for a last minute rescue which would be too predictable, so there’s no way it’s that. More importantly, ROBOT PUNCHING TIME.
Australian Iceman and his dad along with the Russian stereotypes and Chinese triplets who we saw for two seconds in the Welcome to The Shatterdome sequence – Did I not mention the base is called The Shatterdome? The base is called The Shatterdome. – go out into the water for a badass fight with the kaiju. Two of these teams get the shit kicked out of them and die, and then we learn these new, stronger kaiju can shoot EMPs out of their backs because who gives a shit? This all looks AMAZING. So now Australian Iceman and his dad are stranded out there with one of the kaiju while the other one goes to find Charlie because it can sense him now. Which I know sounds crazy, but don’t worry the movie thought so, too, and never once mentions this again. At this point, I don’t know what’s going to happen because clearly Jax and Mako can’t pilot dick without their memories making their gun go off early. (I know a little about that.) Except, never mind, here they are straight FUCKING SHIT UP and HOW.
AWESOME, AWESOME BATTLE SCENES. HOLY SHIT, THOSE THINGS HAVE THAT? MY GOD, WHY WASN’T THIS THE WHOLE MOVIE? WHO TRIED TO GIVE THIS THING A PLOT? DID GUILLERMO DEL TORO TRY TO GIVE IT A PLOT? WHY DID YOU TRY TO GIVE IT A PLOT?!
Okay, so the heroes are triumphant. And Maverick, I mean Jax has earned Australian Iceman’s respect and can ride his tail anytime. Although, that’s not really said as much as it’s dude-bro nodded. (Speaking of dude-bros, there was group of six of them in the theater who all apparently bought t-shirts together at Pac-Sun. Is that a dude-bro thing? Shopping trips? I digress.) But Stringer Bell doesn’t want everyone getting cocky and reminds them they still have do that shit from The Avengers. Which is why it’s the perfect time to point out he’s dying from radiation poisoning because the first punching robots he piloted were built mainly for punching, not so much radiation poison stopping. But, it’s the future where they probably have sophisticated medicine, so I’m sure this isn’t telegraphing an heroic sacrifice coming up.
Shit’s getting real now. There are another two kaijus already except now they’re just hanging around the wormhole. Why? Maybe from reading Charlie’s mind? This is never once explained. But as we know from British guy, this will have left the wormhole open, so our punching robots need to do this shit now. Except there’s a problem: Australian Iceman’s dad has been wounded and can’t be his co-pilot. This is BAD. You can’t just toss another co-pilot in there without such dire consequences as robot guns indiscriminately going off or pilots getting paralyzed by memories. It just doesn’t work like that. The movie has told us a hundred times!
Stringer Bell gets into Australian Iceman’s punching robot and things work smooth as fuck.
Meanwhile, the other dead kaiju from before birthed a baby that choked on its own umbilical cord (Bring the kids!), so Charlie drifts with it’s dying brain and somehow figures out the kaiju’s plans from a fetus that was only just now birthed in a completely separate dimension and, God, all of this still hurts my brain. Ow, ow, ow.
Okay, final underwater fight. (Which you’ll never believe this: Looks. AWESOME.) Stringer Bell and Australian Iceman make their heroic sacrifice, Jax and Mako go into the wormhole with the body of a dead, new super kaiju they killed way too easily, somehow they still communicate with earth despite being in a separate dimension, all that stuff from The Avengers happen right down to the, “Oh, no, is Iron Man dead?!” and YAY! PUPPY DOGS AND RAINBOWS as Jax and Mako share a tender moment floating in the ocean.
“Is it alright if kiss you?”
“American boys won’t buy action figures if there’s kissing.”
“Right. Chaste hug?”