Was it a movie I saw since August 22nd, 2009: Yes, #242.
Raleigh: “When alien life entered our world it was from deep beneath the Pacific Ocean.”
This is actually a really interesting concept and break from the usual alien invasion movies. It keeps the movie incredibly sci-fi but gives the monsters a much more earthy quality to them. And opening the movie with the idea establishes the world we live in right away. In fact, the entire prologue does an excellent job of clearly and quickly establishing the world of Pacific Rim (I consider the prologue everything before Raleigh and Yancy go and fight the monster, even though the film’s title takes 16 minutes to show up).
2) The monsters in this film are referred to as Kaiju and that fact shows the incredible respect the filmmakers are showing to the genre they’re playing in. For those of you who don’t know, giant monster movies made in Japan like Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, etc. are referred to as Kaiju films so just by embracing that genre name for this film shows they’re playing in a similar world. I just like that that’s the path they went down.
3) Ramin Djawdi’s score for Pacific Rim is absolutely kickass. The German composer is probably most known for his work on the first Iron Man and “Game of Thrones”, so audiences for those projects are familiar with the fact that Djawdi can get you pumped through music. Pacific Rim is no battle, with the main theme being an electric guitar heavy and absolutely energizing anthem of badassery that gets the audience ready for battle. I suggest everyone listens to it.
4) Charlie Hunam as Raleigh
Raleigh is rough around the edges but in a way the audience can appreciate. He’s not a jackass, he’s not a jerk, he’s just a bit macho. But he’s still a nice guy (not Nice Guy™), showing kindness to much of the cast of characters throughout the film (Mako, Pentecost). There’s an old school roguish charm to him, but Hunam is also able to play the grief that marks Raleigh for a lot of the film.
Raleigh: “I was still connected to my brother when he died.”
That is an incredibly rich and unique conflict, to know what it feels like to die and live while also knowing that’s what your family felt in their last moments. Hunam is able to work with this well in a number of scenes and while at time his American accent can be a bit distracting his performance overall is damn good.
5) This film does a very good job of establishing minor and supporting characters so that even if they only have a few minutes of screen time you remember them. This includes Yancy, Choi, and all the other Jaeger pilots. Through combined visual design and unique character writing, they stand out.
6) The first Kaiju/Jaeger fight - while not the best in the film - still strongly establishes the film’s intense action. It is important for the audience to know the rules in these fights early on. To know that the Kaiju and Jaeger are close to equally matched; neither is swifter, neither is bigger, it’s a really intense skirmish between opponent of equal size and strength. Establishing that well early on is important and exactly what this film did.
7) Idris Elba as Marshall Pentecost
I think Elba gives the best performance in the entire film. Pentecost is such an enigmatic character, he’s not an open book, but instead of feeling underdeveloped (which is a risk with such characters) he’s interesting. You can tell there’s more to Pentecost than we’re being told because Elba works so well wight he part. He just radiates leadership and authority in a multifaceted performance. You get his hard edges, his no nonsense behavior, his occasional jackassery, a caring father figure, a loyal soldier, and a driven man all in one package that is Idris Elba. I fucking love Elba in this film.
8) Rinko Kikuchi as Mako.
Mako’s awesome. I love Mako. She’s…it’s hard to put into words. She’s an incredible strong character with deep rooted conflict and motivations which Kikuchi is able to carry with her always. This conflict is good because it strongly influences Mako’s choices in the film, which in and of themselves can breed more conflict. You can just tell that while Mako is good in her current position as Pentecost’s assistant(?) that she can do SO much more. You understand that through the way she interacts with Raleigh, the ease she handles the tasks given to her, you know she’s not reached her full potential yet even though she wants to. And you just freaking root for her to go further, to get what she wants, something which I think is equal parts Kikuchi’s performance and the writing for the character. It’s also worth noting her platonic relationship with Elba is very strong and helps develop both characters.
9) Burn Gorman and Charlie Day as both crazy strong in their roles also, breathing such life and fun into their parts and the film as large. The strong bickering Newt and Herman is incredibly fun to watch and while Day does get more time to shine as Newt that doesn’t mean Herman is any less interesting. They’re both such a fun team to watch.
10) Something director Guillermo Del Toro is able to do incredibly well across all his films - largely through production design and practical sets/effects - is that he creates a world which is fully alive. Just from looking at it you get an understanding of how it works, how it’s different from our world. It is striking, full of life, and totally unique.
11) Mako’s candidate trial.
Did I mention I love Mako? Because I do. And this scene just makes me love her more. The connection and kinship she is able to immediately establish with Raleigh is crazy good. It just FEELS right watching the pair of them on screen. Their relationship is in many ways the heart of this film and this scene gets you invested in them. You just know that they’re the right for each other.
12) Newt’s decision to drift with a Kaiju is a strong example of stakes. How far he’ll go to do what he think is the best thing to do because the alternative of doing nothing isn’t good enough. I dig it.
13) One thing I like is that Mako isn’t really sexualized or objectified in any way. I don’t even think we get a shot of her half naked or anything. The film shows off how sexy Raleigh’s body is more than it does Mako’s and I really freaking love that.
14) There are a few comparisons to make between this film and Independence Day. The fact that it’s humanity fighting against alien invaders (even though these aliens are from below the sea) is one thing, but then we learn this.
Newt: “These being, these colonists, they take over worlds…”
It’s very similar to how Bill Pullman notes the aliens in Independence Day are like locusts, moving from world to world and taking over natural resources. There are more coming up, and it’s not even a comparison of quality or saying one is a ripoff of the other, it’s more just I like the similarities because I like both films.
15) Mako’s backstory.
Through showing us Mako’s backstory, not just telling us, the film makes it all the stronger. It perfectly explains her motivations and stakes throughout the film in a way which is simple, elegant, and ready to remember. Also the way the film cuts between Mako’s memory, Raleigh in Mako’s memory, and the real world of Gypsy Danger is very strong. All in all, it’s just a strong example of backstory.
16) Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chou.
Okay, Ron Perlman is always a wonderful character actor. I have never seen a Ron Perlman performance which I have not liked. He just breathes this consistent charisma, energy, and fun into every performance he has ever given so Chou is no different. While he may be more devious and deceitful than say Hellboy, Perlman has no less fun with the part and just makes Hannibal Chou one of the surprise stand out characters in the film.
17) The first Jaeger fight with the Kaiju in Tokyo is just plain fun, a nice prologue to the upcoming Gypsy Danger fight but one that steps up the Kaiju VS Jaeger fun introduced in the film’s opening.
18) Gypsy Danger VS Kaiju.
The extended fight sequence is 100% fucking awesome! A perfect collaboration of, “oh that’s so cool!” and some, “oh that’s so stupid!” moments but in a way that is totally fun. It’s giant robot vs giant monster entertainment at its purest in a way which is just totally entertaining. Some highlights from the fight include:
Raleigh: “I think this guy’s dead, but let’s check for a pulse. (They shoot him with a plasma gun.) No pulse.”
THEY USE A FREAKING CARGO BOAT TO BEAT ON THE KAIJU LIKE IT’S A BASEBALL BAT!
THE KAIJU HAS WINGS! OH MY GOD THAT’S SO COOL!
And of course…
THEY’VE GOT A FREAKING SWORD!!!!!
More than anything else the best scene in the film (which this is) shows off all the imagination which can go into one of these fights and all of Gypsy Danger’s skills as a fighter.
19) Is this really necessary?
Newt [examining the dead Kaiju]: “It’s pregnant.”
This whole moment feels a little extra. Like, couldn’t the Kaiju brain just be intact after the fight? Although it does lead to Hannibal’s “death” and a great post credits scene.
20) Okay, I’m tearing up a little bit at the goodbye Pentecost has with Mako before he gets in a Jaeger. Because they both know this will kill him and I just…okay, I’m good.
21) The best speech since Independence Day.
22) Something I haven’t really talked about yet is drifting. Drifting with another person in the context of the film is such an intimate and strong connection. It is pure relationship, pure honesty, and I freaking love it.
23) The climactic fight with the category five fight is really a dual fight between the two Kaiju in a well paced, choreographed, and smoothly edited moment. You are never taken out of the moment during the fight due to shoddy craftsmanship, it is all just really smooth.
24) I think the final dive into the breach is really well done because there is a genuine question of if Raleigh will survive or not. The first time I saw this I thought for sure he would die and they wait until the last minute possible to get him out there, just upping the tension throughout. It’s really strong.
24.1) The final thing in this movie that reminds me of Independence Day is Raleigh sending his ship right into the enemy to explode feels a lot like this:
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
25) I actually love that this movie doesn’t end with Raleigh and Mako kissing. You can head canon it as anyway you want. I see it as platonic, but you can also see it as they know each other better than anyone else so they don’t need to kiss to know how they feel about each other. I just find it very strong.
26) Remember how I mentioned a post credits scene in note #19?
Pacific Rim is just really incredibly fun. You can tell that Guillermo Del Toro is enjoying the world he helps to build, with sheer amazing giant robot vs giant monster action. The character drama and motivations are surprisingly poignant, the actors are incredibly strong, the writing is top notch, and it’s just…it’s so freaking good. It’s so freaking FUN! Go watch it. Now. Do it! Please! It’s that good.
Pentecost asked for a transfer to the remote Alaska shatterdome and saw that Mako entered the Jaeger Pilot academy under his supervision in Anchorage. His character was now somber but still full of nobility.
Mako became his life force and, in his innermost self, a resolution grew: he would keep her away from piloting a Jaeger and secure her safety above all. [x]
Unlike Godzilla, Pacific Rim doesn’t try to be serious even when it’s being serious. Characters have names like Stacker Pentecost and Hercules Hansen. The film requires you to believe that the best way to battle a giant monster is to build an even larger robot to fight that monster.
Much of the Act 2 drama derives from inter-pilot tension airlifted from the Val Kilmer scenes in Top Gun. It’s the polar opposite of the Godzilla school of drama, where everyone is a total professional who has absolutely no personal goal besides Saving The World. In Pacific Rim, Idris Elba is Rinko Kikuchi’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, and two of the last Giant Robot-pilots in the world frequently get into sneering fights over who’s the bigger badass, and Charlie Day is a scientist.
So, for all these reasons, Pacific Rim is a movie that I’ve heard perfectly smart people describe as “stupid” or “silly.” The problem with this line of thinking is that, really, that every blockbuster is pretty “silly,” in the context of Things Adults Should Care About. Godzilla is not less stupid than Pacific Rim just because people frown more. […]
The difference, I think, is that Pacific Rim glories in its own silliness. There’s a flashback scene where Idris Elba rescues a little girl, and when he emerges from his giant robot, the sun shines upon him like he’s the catharsis in a biblical epic. There’s a moment when one giant robot swings an oil tanker like a sword. Then it grows a sword out of its wrist. Then it falls from space to earth.
There are real complaints to make about Pacific Rim, I guess, all of them fair and most of them pedantic. I know a lot of people who have issues with the story. (“Why didn’t they use the wrist-sword earlier?” is a popular one.) Conversely, I don’t really know anyone who minds the story in Godzilla, possibly because everything stupid that happens is prefaced by Frowning Watanabe saying “This is why the stupid thing that’s about to happen makes sense.” Godzilla wants so badly to make sense. Pacific Rim wants so badly for Ron Perlman to wear golden shoes.
Darren Franich, “Entertainment Geekly: A call for an end to serious blockbusters”