24 Frames Review: "Pacific Rim"

Jul 12, 2013

One year at the county fair two of my friends took turns shooting those little targets where you have to bust out the entire center red circle to win a prize. My first friend handled the task with great precision knocking out the entire thing in a very concise and efficient manner leaving us all in a state of awe. My second friend, knowing he couldn’t have the success of the first, went wild. He shot his target, some poor little girls target, I think he shot some of the prizes, and sent the carnival worker ducking for cover. We howled with excitement, laughed, and ran off. It was an adrenaline rush and completely hilarious(probably dangerous) and fun. If the actions of my two friends were summer blockbusters then my first friend would have made “Man of Steel” an over serious, emotionally bloated super hero movie that was proficiently executed. My second friend would have made “Pacific Rim” a ridiculous, yet amazingly awesome Robots vs. Monsters movie that splatters like machine gun fire. Both movies are worthy of praise and admiration but for entirely different reasons. If you don’t have a switch that can flip between enjoying pure entertainment and spectacle, while also appreciating, let’s say, “Citizen Kane” then “Pacific Rim” is not for you.

The film’s plot tells the story of a distant future in which giant monsters have found a portal in the Pacific Ocean and are crawling through it and reeking havoc on humanity. The world has united to build giant fighting robots to combat these, mostly lizard-like creatures before they can reach landfall and beat up our harbor cities because who wants to move to Oklahoma? The bad guys are called Kaiju the good guys are called Jaegars. It’s really simple stuff and the setup and forward motion of the story reminded me a lot of the original “Star Wars”. I may have even heard one of the Jaegar pilots tell another one “don’t get cocky kid” like he was Han Solo but I also could be making that up. As I sat and watched, or rather, sat and got hammered in the face by “Pacific Rim” I couldn’t help but feel that “Star Wars: A New Hope” is probably it’s kindred spirit. You have a bunch of characters with names that would be silly if they weren’t so well thought out and appropriate, with surface motivations; family members dying, the last of a dying breed, figuring out the origin of a deep cosmic mystery coming together to combat a great foe on an adventure that seems perilous. The difference of course is that Star Wars is built to the arch of Joseph Campbell’s hero quest and thus the stakes seem much bigger and the protagonists much more heroic, and although “Pacific Rim” remains more juvenile it makes up for it in amazing spectacle, the best CGI ever put on screen, and just enough character development to make you feel that these people are real, and what happens to them matters.

This is probably a much longer review than it needed to be and I didn’t give you much of the plot outside of what you will learn within the first 2 minutes but that’s really all you need for a film like “Pacific Rim”. The great director Guillermo Del Toro helms it and boy does this guy love movies, it shines through in every frame. Kind of like a young boy on a hot sticky August night spraying pellets across a carnival game to the delight of all of his friends.

I give Pacific Rim 4 out of 5 Jaegars.