My friend Doug and I went to see Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro‘s first film in 5 years (since Hellboy 2: The Golden Army released in 2008, which I also saw.) Early news about del Toro making a film about giant robots fighting giant monsters hit the radar sometime last year. Many fans on the discussion boards, much like myself, were pretty excited about a film conceptually featuring large robots fighting large monsters. It’s a mash-up of old-school Toho Godzilla films, Voltron, Mazinger Z (Tranzor Z in the US), and BattleTech (Mechwarrior.) Giant robots? That’s a siren call for me.
So what’s this film about exactly? Sometime in the present, an interdimensional fissure opens in the Pacific Ocean, and giant living monsters enter our world, ravaging populated areas, much like Godzilla and the other Toho menagerie of super-sized monsters. The initial kaiju attack is on San Francisco, and conventional armed forces take six days to finally bring it down. Additional kaiju also exit the rift over time, and devastate other coastal cities along the Pacific Ocean. In response, countries work together to begin the Jaeger program to develop and construct large robots or mechs to defend the planet. Initially, the Jaeger program is a success, but successive waves of kaijus get progressively more evolved and more dangerous (Category 1, Category 2, etc.) As a result, countries develop more advanced mechs (Mark 1, Mark 2, etc.) The film is about these battles.
So here’s the deal: this Guillermo del Toro film isn’t his greatest film. The concept is pretty damn cool and original (for Hollywood), but the acting and the speaking parts are cheesy. There are some large plot holes, and I didn’t think those aspects were very realistic. Also, I found Charlie Day’s character to be unbelievably grating. If one were to compare the cheesiness, I’d rank it up there with Armageddon and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. So miserable film? On the contrary, lucky for del Toro, the fun factor of action scenes between the Jaegers and the kaijus made up for everything. Seriously, when I have to sit back in my stadium seat because of the action, I found it to be that much fun. I mean, all that corny acting was annoying, but as I enjoyed the CGI action so much, I could actually blot out the cheese.
God help me, but I liked this better than Star Trek Into Darkness. I was trying to figure out why, and I think I figured it out. I know what Star Trek is about, and how enjoyable it can be. When I watched both the 2009 and 2013 reboot films, I can tell what they gave up to make their tentpole action films. Especially in the 2013 STID, I felt that it was wasted potential. For Pacific Rim, I’m basically there only for the CGI action, as I’m not expecting much from the plot. So when I divest myself from worrying about the plot, I could enjoy the action more.