Sunday, July 14, 2013
Cindy Prascik’s review of Pacific Rim
Dearest Blog, today it was Godzilla versus Transformers as I hit the cinema for Pacific Rim.
Spoiler level here is mild, mostly limited to what you'd know from the trailers, though I must get specific on one point. In an attempt to remain as unspoilery as possible, I won't name the characters involved.
In the not-so-distant future, alien monsters dubbed "Kaiju" have come through a fault deep beneath the Pacific Ocean and are attacking Earth. Mankind creates giant robots called "Jaegers" to defend itself and fight back.
Pacific Rim is not a perfect film. It's not even a special film. It is, however, an enormous, entertaining summer blockbuster that not only MUST be seen at the cinema, but should be seen as soon as possible on the biggest screen you can find.
Dear reader(s), it says nothing very good about me that, since discovering Charlie Hunnam was going to be in a movie called Pacific Rim, at least 85% of my brain has, at all times, been occupied with finding some play on those words to bring up Hunnam's early work on Queer as Folk. Reader(s), it is to your benefit (or your great disadvantage) that I got nothing...but I still giggle a bit every time I think "Pacific Rim."
Anyway, getting the bad news out of the way first, here are Pacific Rim's (heheheheheh) weaknesses.
Too long, too long, too long! Pacific Rim is barely over two hours, but would have been better at 1:30-1:45. Might have stopped them shoehorning in so many......forced emotional moments. Father/son. Hero/heroine. Mentor/protégée. Person/dog. There's about as much chemistry as between me and my cat. (Hint: my cat hates me.) Sometimes it's the writing, sometimes it's the acting, sometimes it's a li'l of both, but it's extra-annoying because the movie stands well on other merits and could have done without any of it.
Charlie Hunnam is the weakest link in a pretty strong cast, and I wasn't impressed by his leading lady, Rinko Kikuchi, either. Sadly, the same is true of Hunnam in his TV series, Sons of Anarchy. A good actor never appears to be acting, but with Hunnam, it's always obvious how hard he's working. He's not a terrible actor, by any means, but he's not strong enough to front a project of this magnitude, and he's consistently outshone by lower-billed cast. Kikuchi's longing looks in his direction are inappropriate for the character and for the circumstances and set me off right out of the gate. (But who hasn't looked at Charlie Hunnam that way a time or two, right??)
Some of the monster/robot fight scenes drag on too long, and jiggly, super-close-up shots make it difficult to see what's happening....not to mention making me a bit seasick.
Finally, there's one dippy moment where a character is unconscious and possibly dead, and rather than...oh, you know, DOING ANYTHING TO HELP...another character sits there sobbing, "Don't go! Don't go!" I wanted to throw something at the screen.
The good news is there's plenty of good news to outweigh the bad.
Pacific Rim looks spectacular in every way. My cinema doesn't have IMAX or any other special technology--hell, I didn't even see it in 3D--but those giant monsters and huge robots are overwhelming and seem almost ready to come off the screen. I love that the monsters are actually scary, credit I'll very rarely give, and the robots so intimidating. Very, very impressive technical and design work.
Pacific Rim boasts a super supporting cast, led by the incomparable Idris Elba. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day and Torchwood's Burn Gorman are terrific, together and separately, as a pair of scientists among all the military personnel. Clifton Collins, Jr. gets more screen time than I anticipated, and more Clifton Collins, Jr. is always better than less Clifton Collins, Jr. And...Ron Perlman's brief but entertaining turn totally steals the show. Let's be honest, too: Charlie Hunnam is easy on the eyes, and I won't complain about looking at him for two hours under any circumstances, even if he's not Oscar worthy!
Pacific Rim tells a solid, original(ish) story that reels you in from start to finish. It presents characters you're rooting for because the movie's made you care about them, and not just because you're supposed to be pulling for the "good guys."
Pacific Rim clocks in at 132 minutes and is rated PG13 for "sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language." It's a top-notch summer blockbuster, and there's something very wrong with a world where the movie-going public fails to make it summer's biggest hit.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Pacific Rim gets seven and a half.
Until next time...
Wait...what was I saying?