I've had some pretty downer weeks lately, but Pacific Rim was the perfect Cathartic release. Just honest-to-god ridiculous sci-fi robot-on-monster fun times. ROBO-SPOILERS beyond the cut.
I wasn't really a Mech kid growing up. Too young to be into Transformers at its high, my first real introduction to the world of Giant Robots was first Power Rangers' badass Megazord, which hooked me real good, but the one that really stuck was seeing Gundam Wing when it began airing on Toonami alongside Dragonball Z. There was something about the designs of Gundam that really spoke to me as a child, and I clamoured to get models to make and figures to play with. Pacific Rim kind of feels like what was going on in my mind's eye when I was smashing Gundam Heavyarms into toy dinosaurs on the carpet all those years ago. If this movie had existed by the time I was 8 or 9, I think I would've gone insane with glee, before instantly harvesting a deep yearning to own a little Gipsy Danger of my own - hell, I kind of still want to do that anyway!
Here's a few bullet pointed thoughts:
- DAT. SOUNDTRACK. So simple, and yet every time it came on I was practically bouncing up and down in my seat. Perfect 'Activate Rocket Elbow to MEGA PUNCH SOMETHING IN THE FAAAAAACE' music. Between this and Game of Thrones, can Ramin Djawadi do no wrong?
- I could've done with about 90% less Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. They were admirably cheesy, but man, it felt like so much unnecessary time was spent with their characters - I can't even remember their names right... Newton and Herman? I just referred to them as Charlie Day and Owen! - particularly with Day, who began to grate by the time they were sending off to get black market Kaiju bits. It was time I would've rather spent with the other, far more interesting characters. Speaking of whom...
- Man, it probably would've been a nightmare to market, but I would've loved to have seen the focus on Rinko Kikuchi as the lead over Charlie Hunnam. Pacific Rim feels way more like Mako Mori's story (aside: I don't know why, I kept thinking about the phrase 'Momento Mori' whenever I heard her name, which lead to some intense Persona 3 flashbacks) than it does Raleigh's. She's the emotional core that carries that middle hour or so of the film, she feels like the most developed (in a relatively underdeveloped cast, honestly), and her relationship with Stacker is really nicely done. In fact, I think I would've preferred Raleigh not making it at the end of the movie, for any potential sequel to start with Mako alone instead. I loved her! Also, her final, untranslated line to Stacker was super sweet.
- Coyote Tango. Striker Eureka. Cherno Alpha. Mako Mori. Raleigh Becket. Yancy Becket. Stacker Pentecost. Hercules Hanson. Gipsy Motherfucking Danger. Like, holy shit, every name in this movie is perfect. I love a good name, I do, and Pacific Rim is fit to burst with them.
- For a decidedly western Mecha sensibility when it came to designing the Jaegers, I loved how intrinsically 'Japanese' the fights eventually felt. They struck the Gundam-core within me deeply - Sure, the Jaegers weren't flitting about the place at hyper speeds or anything, but I mean, come on! People announce their special attacks before they use them! They hold back secret weapons - weapons which could've been handy earlier in the fight - in order to reveal them in a moment of supreme coolness (that 'For my Family'/Chainsword moment when Gipsy slices up that flying Kaiju almost had me leaping out of my seat in thunderous applause, it felt that good)! The fight scenes were so visceral and enjoyable to watch, I wouldn't mind a Pacific Rim supercut that was solely the fighting. Or more fighting featuring Cherno Alpha, Crimson Typhoon and Coyote Tango, whose lack of screen time was almost criminal. It was a good job Striker and Gipsy were awesome Jaegers to make up for that.
- The 3-D was less invasive/problematic than I thought it was going to be. I was worried after Transformers movies in 3D always made the action practically incomprehensible, but here I found it easy - and delightful - to track the fight scenes. I was surprised to find that, after a quick test of removing my 3D glasses, that there seemed to be much stronger 3D going on inside the Jaeger cockpits than actually outside them. It added a nice sense of depth to that set. All that said, I'm looking forward to seeing a 2D version of the film.
- WHO ATTACHES ROCKETS TO THEIR MECH'S ELBOW FOR MIGHTIER PUNCHES!? Awesome people, that's who. I can't decided which was my favourite robo-punch: Gipsy Danger's Rocket-assisted haymaker, or Cherno Alpha's hydraulic snap-punch. All in all, it was a great two hours for Robo-punching.
So yeah, Pacific Rim is just goddamn dumb awesome fun. Can't wait to own it on DVD and watch it repeatedly.