Pacific Rim: Robots Beat Up Godzilla

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I wasn’t excited about seeing Pacific Rim (2013 PG-13).  From the previews, it just looked like giant robots punching giant monsters. And the movie turned out to be just that – giant robots punching giant monsters.  And it was pretty cool!

Director Guillermo del Toro creates a richly layered future where a split in the floor of the Pacific Ocean is releasing giant monsters, called kaiju, which smash up coastal cities. We see scientists study them, cities building walls to block them, national leaders working together to eliminate the threat, citizens rebelling against rationing, and the black market for kaiju body parts.  But mostly we get to see how the military responds by building big robots called jaegers.  I like how the pilots and robots from different countries develop symbolism similar to fighter pilots and bombardiers.

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These jaegers must be controlled by the brain and body of two pilots who undergo “the Drift”, which means they share memories and get in sync to make their two bodies work to move the one jaeger.  It is best for these two pilots to have similar memories, so most teams are made up of brothers, father and son, or husband and wife.

But why does the American pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), when he needs a new partner,  choose his new partner by fighting a bunch of people with sticks?

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Why do the jaeger try to eliminate the kaiju by hitting them?  Surely the military can come up with some other sort of weapon.

Anyway, the best stick fighter is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who survived a Japanese kaiju attack as a little girl.  But Commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) is hesitant to let her fight in the jaeger.  Again, the great thing is how subtly the story unfolds.  The commander has an occasional bloody nose.  Why?  The girl is respectful but persistent.  Why?  Director del Toro will slowly build up to the answers.

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There is much that is good about this movie.  The scientists, while playing into odd-ball stereotypes, are smart comic relief who, in the end, are as important as the rock-star pilots. The jaeger support crew are portrayed as part of a completely dedicated military complex.  The Chinese and Russian pilot teams are given enough screen time to establish their elite status while still conveying the ever-present possibility of being killed while fighting a kaiju.  The Irish team gets more plot time to show the emotional complexities of a father-son pilot team, with themes of sacrifice and honor.

Fun movie!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Pacific Rim: Robots Beat Up Godzilla

  1. I enjoyed every scene with a giant robot or a giant monster. Just about every other scene in the film was pretty terrible. This was a fun silly summer film to watch. However, I was expecting a lot more from del Toro.

  2. A movie with a bit for everyone – I liked the character development and how the director showed the world in disaster-mode better than the giant fight scenes!

  3. Pingback: Pacific Rim (2013) – Movie Review | Rant and Rave Reviews

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  6. I wasn’t excited about seeing it either, but really enjoyed it. Certain things seem illogical if you try to analyze them, like why try building a wall if these monsters can crush everything built by humans in just a second, or why hitting them with iron fists of a robot is considered to be effective. But the fact that the fight scenes are so visually awesome turns out to be more convincing than anything else. That hasn’t worked with me before, while I watched many other blockbusters.

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