It’s loud, it’s in your face and it’s absolutely epic. It’s Pacific Rim and it’s a movie that you shouldn’t miss. Our experts at the Uncanny Book-Club were there and here’s what they thought.
Pacific Rim is not an origin story. It’s the story of the end. The tagline of “Go big or go extinct” could not be any more accurate. Humanity has been at war with the giant monsters called Kaiju for seven years. They have used so-called Jaegers, giant robots, to violently beat the Kaiju into submission, occasionally using oil tankers as clubs. Now, the funding for the Jaeger program has been cut. The remaining Jaegers, their mechanics and their pilots retreat to humanity’s last line of defense: The Shatterdome. Then, more Kaiju arrive. It’s up to the Jaeger-crews of Crimson Typhoon out of China, Cherno Alpha out of Russia, Striker Eureka out of Australia and the legendary Gipsy Danger out of the USA to defend mankind for one last time. Because if they lose, then humanity will go extinct.
Pacific Rim skips the origin story of the giant robots and handwaves it away by just going “We built this”. Simple and effective. And that’s the story in a nutshell. While the workings of the Jaegers and the interpersonal relationships of the characters are quite complex, as one of our members said, the story itself is as straightforward as it gets.
The movie is visually impressive. Everything is awesome and big and – while the entire movie is a celebration of not only monster movies but also computer generated imagery – looks very mechanical and analog. The Jaegers are big and slow and clunky. There are gears and hatches and levers everywhere. There has been critique in the design, though. “The two-legged approach makes no sense”, said one of our Australian members, “humans don’t have the ideal build for fighting machines, especially in water.” This was countered with that maybe the neural handshake – the procedures the Jaeger-pilots use to synchronize their thoughts and steer the Jaeger – only works with a humanoid form. “But that makes no sense when it comes to the three-armed Crimson Typhoon”, she added.
There is plenty to nitpick about the movie, such as issues of walking in water, damaging machinery during calibration and general design-flaws. But the general consensus in the group was that it was big and it was fun. “It was a bit too loud, though”, said another Australian.
Thus, Pacific Rim is a movie that should be enjoyed in cinemas. Biggest screen you can find. Because it must be big and loud. Because not just the imagery in the movie was designed to be big and bold. The sounds were also made to be – simply put – awesome. The score by German composer Ramin Djawadi, most noted for his work on the HBO hit series Game of Thrones and on Iron Man 3, is dominated by horns and drums. Sounding very militaristic, the soundtrack has a distinguished track for every Jaeger and is designed to impress. The voice of Gipsy Danger’s computer system is that of Ellen McLain who’s a cult favourite among gamers as the voice of the deranged computer GLaDOS in the Portal series. Her voice is occasionally almost drowned in clanking and whirring of gears and machinery in the cockpit. So much that pilot Raleigh Beckett has to repeat what she just said in one scene so that the audience understands that all of Gipsy Danger’s systems are critical.
There are, however, scary moments too. One attendee thought the movie to be rather scary, full of shocking moments. Especially when humans outside of Jaegers encounter the Kaiju. She’d have liked to hide behind something, she said. Others also found themselves to be engaged by the movie, and big, silly grins were seen on faces during the movie and the emotional moments did hit their mark.
All in all, Pacific Rim is fun. It has its flaws, its completely nonsensical moments, but it’s an engaging summer blockbuster.