Maddy’s Movies: Pacific Rim delivers on robot vs. monster fights, but not so much on everything else

Maddy Mesa

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Guillermo del Toro is good at what he does — making monsters. Making monsters that scare the crap out of people, like the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, or monsters that help save the world like Hellboy and Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies.

Pacific Rim and its monsters are no letdown to del Toro’s awesomeness-legacy. But that’s all this film has going for it: stunningly epic CGI battles between scary looking monsters and kickass robots.

Not to say this movie sucks, far from it. But I doubt you’re going to see this movie for the cheesy  dialogue or the easy-to-follow story line.

The year is 2020. A crevasse deep in the Pacific Ocean has become a portal where giant monsters called “Kaiju” (Japanese for strange beast) attack every major city on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The world quickly learns that these Kaijus are not brought down easily and work together to form the Jaeger (hunter in German) Program.

Two pilots operate the Jaeger as the left and right hemisphere. They connect using the “neural handshake” where pilots link into each others memories in “the drift.” As veteran Jaeger pilot of Gypsy Danger Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) explains it, “the stronger the connection between two pilots, the better their performance in battle.” Brothers Raleigh and Yancy Becket are the best at what they do thanks to their shared memories.

The Jaeger Program kicks ass and brings down the kaijus while the pilots become superstars to the public. All goes well until, spoiler alert — it doesn’t.

The Jaeger Program fund is cut and that leaves program leader Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) with a crazy, end-all idea to “cancel the apocalypse!”

To call this movie intense would be an understatement. In some scenes the entire screen is filled with flailing robot arms and monster limbs. And rain. There is a lot of rain in this movie.

Don’t worry about getting lost while watching. It’s pretty simple. You got monsters fighting robots, two minds becoming one, and a problem that’s becoming much worse. Oh, and rain.

The dialogue was quite poor. It’s obvious not a whole lot of effort went into that part of the film. There was too much forced humor just to try and relieve the tension from those crazy fights. And (spoiler alert) you can barely recognize the romance developing between Becket and rookie Jaeger pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who has difficulty with “the drift.”

But hey, you’re not paying to see all that. You want to see amazing special effects and maybe Charlie Day’s Dr. Newton Geiszler character, a scientist obsessed with Kaiju, a Japanese translation of “strange beast” (a “Kaiju groupie” if you will). Surprisingly out of the whole cast, Day’s Dr. Geiszler and his partner (or sidekick, whatever,) Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) were the most interesting characters. Nothing about their humor or performance seemed forced which was great to watch while waiting for the next Kaiju vs. Jaeger battle to begin.

Their characters specifically are not just thrown in for comic relief, but are crucial to the plot. Dr. Geiszler‘s part is important because he ends up finding out valuable information to help the Jaeger team.

The other actors do alright with their characters. But don’t expect any Oscar winning performances.  Much of the plot was predictable and the emotional baggage of some of the characters didn’t seem right and seemed forced.

There were instances of “yep, saw that one coming.” Other times there were “are you kidding me?” moments like (spoiler) one of the Kaiju now being able to fly or the epic Gundam style sword that Gypsy Danger uses to bring down a Kaiju (where did that come from?).

But again, really cool CGI. And a lot of rain.

The special effects were amazing. I enjoyed seeing all the different makes and models of the Jaegers in the program. It was a shame there wasn’t more fight scenes with the different Jaegers like the Chinese Crimson Typhoon with their skilled three arm technique or the Russian Cherno Alpha who was an older model but still a badass. And the Australian Striker Eureka with its chest missiles move.

But the most amazing and most beautiful of all these CGI-ed beast was the Raleigh and Mako piloted Jager Gypsy Danger.

I’m just going to say it, she was a sexy robot. The way she moves through the streets of Hong Kong in the pouring rain (that rain! I get it now). And the way she uses a freaking barge as a sword (I know you’ve seen that part in the trailers). And dat ass. I think I’m in love.

Thank you, del Torre for not only making these robots epic fighting machines but also look while doing it.

Overall, I give this movie two and a half giant robots out of four, or a C+. Again, it’s not the dialogue or plot line you’ve come to see. It’s the beautiful graphics and fierce robots. And in 3D. Whoa, don’t even get me started.