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MOVIE REVIEW: Enjoying Pacific Rim Is a Job That Requires Tough Love

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Papa Outlaw only need 13 takes to get this pose down. He’s a superstar in the making.


What do you get when you combine Godzilla with Transformers, Independence Day, Reel Steel, Halo, Battleship, D-Box seats 3D and two alcoholic beverages?


The top surveyed answer on the board is, “a side-splitting headache of mass proportions.”  However, “survey says” an acceptable response would also be Guillermo Del Toro’s newest blockbuster offering, Pacific Rim.


Seeing as I’m not THAT much of a cheap date, I don’t have any doubt that the pain surging through my cranium had less to do with the two adult drinks I consumed prior, and more to do with the onslaught my senses took watching 30-story tall robots and sea creatures beat the ever loving feces out of each other in 3D for almost three hours while our seats shook more violently than Tina Turner on a date with Ike. (Too soon?)



… which in turn created migraines.


Before I start dissecting this beast of a movie, I will give you my short synopsis void of spoilers.  The plot, which is explained in a span of about 20 seconds at the beginning of the film, takes place in the not-too-distant future where shark looking sea-monsters have started traveling up through an inter-dimensional bridge in the earth’s crust.  The first red flag reared its pole at this intro, as I can honestly say I have seen very few movies that I enjoy, where about six years of important storyline is explained faster than it takes me to floss.


Getting back to the plot, the mammoth-sized creatures known as Kaiju (no relation to the happy hour rolls at your local sushi bar… hopefully) are attacking major cities around the world for some unknown reason with the only thing standing in their way being man made gigantic super-robots called Jagers (no relation to the alcoholic concoctions served during happy hours at your local watering hole… of which I could have used a few while watching the film).


The official trailer: All of the story, none of the headache.


From the opening scene to the closing seconds, the entire movie was an onslaught of the senses. (Minus smell, which is thankfully still not a part of the movie-going experience… unless you count the older gentleman who hurled all over his D-box seat in the first row.)  While the action was non-stop, the emotion was predictably non-existent.  To call the three main actors Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi of the film caricatures of the typical blockbuster formula would be an insult to the definition of caricatures themselves.


An effort is made to instill some humanity into the movie by creating the concept where two humans are required to pilot the behemoth robots because the mental load is too much for just one pilot to handle.   We are required to then believe that the solution is linking two people via some highly complex neuro-bridge, oddly named the drift, in where consciousness is shared between the humans who then operate the robot in sync.



“No, the Running Man goes more like this…”


From the get go, I found the idea hokey and forced, but even after genuinely trying to accept the notion that this was a necessary plot device, the entire house-of-cards implodes on itself when each individual person not only makes decisions on what weapons to use in battle, but literally tells the other person what to do 90% of the time.  So tell me again the point of having to share every embarrassing moment of your life with someone else if you are just going to tell them what to do anyway?  Lord knows what kind of mental scarring my own mental database might inflict on some poor unfortunate robot fighter.


Halo Jaeger

Anyone else have the strong uncontrollable urge to buy an Xbox all of the sudden?


To make matters worse, Pacific Rim’s attempt to inject humor with Charlie Day’s portrayal of a mad-scientist fell flatter than Justin Biebers latest hair-cut.  In fact, the character was so annoying and unintelligible, I was hoping for a crab-like sea monster to use him as a baby wipe for his rear end.  There was an odd moment as well when Day’s character seemed to be paying homage to Rick Moranis’ spin as Vinz Clortho, from Ghostbusters.



Separated at birth?


For Rick’s sake, let’s hope not.











Your homework? Keep your eyes open for a very familiar fashion design in Pacific Rim…


Needless to say, the mixture of the cast’s international accents and with what seems to be rapid-fire mumbling, made most of the dialogue as comprehensible as Bobcat Goldthwait reciting Shakespeare with his mouthful.  Bottom-line, when you are rooting for the monsters to maim everyone on screen – it’s usually not a good sign.


The only saving grace in the character department was Del Toro’s acting staple, Ron Perlman.  As always, Mr. Perlman’s larger than life screen presence and cool demeanor command attention and proper humor when it’s needed.  Unfortunately, his five minutes of total screen time can’t save the other 145 minutes.



Always finding a way to raise a little “Hell”.


As hinted at earlier, the rest of the movie is spent on the war between machines and large sushi hybrids.  The special effects and the scale at which they were presented was indeed awesome to witness on a larger-than-life screen.  That’s why it’s with great sadness (well, more like dismay) that I must report the way in which the action scenes were shot and edited had almost everything to do with my immediate need for a three month-supply of Aleve as I exited the theater.


From what I could tell, the short choppy fight scenes revealed very little of the actual fighting between the parties, but did manage to test the entire audience for their tolerance to epilepsy.  Outside of the dizziness that resulted, it was also incredibly frustrating not to see any prolonged or stable shots of the two factions at war.



If you are telling me this ISN’T one of those Rorschach test, then please e-mail your Optometrist’s contact info to… in very large font.


All I can say is, if you like your summer blockbusters 99% action, with less heart than an earthworm and cardboard characters that spit out dialogue that makes third graders look like professional thespians – then by all means don’t hesitate to catch Pacific Rim on the big screen.  It’s where it’s meant to be watched.



This image pretty much sums my thoughts on Pacific Rim as a whole.


I must digress though as I went with my Outlaw cousin Garrett and Papa Outlaw and they both thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  So within my small testosterone-based movie sampling, I was in the minority.  Proof that your mileage may vary.



Either my cousin thought this movie was #1 or he enjoys pointing at robot junk.


Nevertheless, if you are like me and prefer your sci-fi balanced and slightly more thought provoking, you can always try partaking in something a little less intense – such as letting someone use your head as a meat tenderizer after drinking a bottle of value brand Tequila as you are strapped to the spoiler of a race car during the Indy 500.


2 Spurs




  1. Hehehe, at first I thought Charlie Day’s character was like Vinz… But the more I watched it seemed like he was channeling JJ Abrams! 😉 (come on, you’ve seen him on panels and watched interviews – you know what I mean!)

    • Geek Outlaw says:

      It really didn’t hit me until the scene where he bridges up with the Kaiju brain for the first time. The second he put that metal helmet like device on his head he was almost a dead ringer for Vinz during the scene he had a strainer on his head. Check out the pic I just posted to this blog… should ring some bells, no?

  2. It blows my mind that after that last paragraph that you liked the latest Transformers. You like your sci-fi balanced and thought-provoking, yet you don’t like this movie, and enjoyed Transformers: Age of Extinction? I don’t think we saw the same movie, good sir.

    I think that your biggest problem was that you were fighting the 3D the whole time. Perhaps the way Pacific Rim was shot, it wasn’t ideal for 3D, but to call the movie an assault on the senses is something that I really don’t understand.

    “From the opening scene to the closing seconds, the entire movie was an onslaught of the senses.” How? Please explain to me how. The movie I watched had an amazing intro and fantastic special effects. It was dark and raining, but still clear and visible. The aesthetics for the Jagers and the Kaiju made it clear which ones were which. Gypsy Danger and Typhoon were the only ones whose names I remembered because Gypsy was the main one and Typhoon had the 3 pilots. But I remember there being two other Jagers, one piloted by the Russians (who had my favorite costumes) and one piloted by the Australians (who had my favorite-looking Jager). I could very clearly see what was happening with which combatants in each action scene. I knew which Kaiju was attacking which Jager(s) and was able to stay compelled. Compare this to pretty much any transformers movie. Aside from Bumble Bee and Optimus, they all look the same, ESPECIALLY the Decepticons. “Two Junkyards rolling around” is the most common metaphor I see. How can you say Pacific Rim is less comprehensible than that?

    You said that the characters were flat and uninteresting. I can’t argue with you too much when it comes to the main protagonist. I feel like he was made a blank slate on purpose so that the audience could identify with him. Mako Mori is one of the best female characters in Cinema in a very long time. There was some sexual tension that felt natural, rather than a forced “I love you in the space of a week” like EVERY OTHER action movie ever (including at least 3 of the 4 transformers movies).

    As far as the “Mad Scientist” that you felt fell flat in the humor department, I will admit that he annoyed me at first, but then he grew on me. I’m disappointed your review completely omitted his mathematician partner who was the perfect foil. Together they had some pretty great scenes. Moreover, the “mad scientist” plot thread was actually interesting! We learned about the Kaiju so that we could beat them. Name another big action blockbuster that does that. Independence Day is the only one that really springs to mind.

    The film is not without its flaws. I agree with you about the “Major plot threads happening faster than I can floss.” Every time I see that, I say “I want to watch THAT movie!” It happened with James Cameron’s Avatar, it happened with Reign of Fire, and as much as I like Pac Rim, it happened there, too. But that not withstanding, the actual plot of Pacific Rim was about the end of this war, so we kinda had to brush past the beginning, unfortunately.

    Also, being something of a Grammar/English snob, it drove me up the wall when one of the Kaiju releases an EMP, and they say “Gypsy Danger isn’t digital, she’s nuclear — analog.” Nuclear =/= Analog.

    When they learned that the Kaiju were all clones I called BS on that, too. How are the Kaiju all have the same DNA if they come out in different shapes, sizes, and abilities? They may be cloned, but they don’t all have the same DNA.

    Those three things were things I let go, though, because the rest of the movie really made up for it.

    If you haven’t already, I recommend giving this movie another watch, in 2D, sober 🙂

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