Can I call something a crushing disappointment if it was exactly what I thought it was going to be? There really should be a word– maybe there is, and I just don’t know it– for something that you don’t want to suck, that you think probably will suck, that then turns out to suck just like you thought it would.
Why, yes, I did see Pacific Rim yesterday, how’d you guess?
As my wife and I were walking out of the theater I suggested that what they had done to make this film was take every bad movie ever and throw it into a blender and that they then somehow managed to make a good movie out of that pureed mess of bad movies. Now, fourteen hours or so later, the good parts of the movie have cooled and the bad parts have come to predominate. My wife, for what it’s worth, normally more of a plothole hound than I am, declared the movie to be exactly what she wanted. I can’t make that claim, just because it would have been so damn easy to make a good movie instead of the stupid movie they made.
It is not that much harder, Hollywood, to write a smart movie than it is to write a dumb one! I promise! You really could have done this!
Here’s the good stuff about Pacific Rim: the monsters and the robots. (Note: I have a weird prejudice against people who use Japanese words when there are English words that suffice perfectly well; the word “kaiju” annoys me enough that I refuse to use “jaeger” either. Monsters and robots. Fuck you.)
Generally whenever the monsters and the robots are on screen and punching each other, good shit is happening, at least until the point later in the movie where one of the robots reveals an ability that really makes you wonder why they were bothering with punching for so long if it’s obviously so ineffective. They never forget how big the monsters or the robots are, the action is stunningly shot (at least insofar as any of it is “shot;” that’s the wrong word for a movie which I assume was composed entirely in a computer) and there is never a point where you can’t figure out what the hell is going on on-screen– I’m looking your way, every other action director working right now. I had initially speculated, prior to seeing the movie, that the fact that every battle appeared to be at night and in the rain was going to be a bad sign and a crutch to make the action murkier; I couldn’t have been more wrong. The movie is gorgeous, crisp; they’ve raised the bar on what you can do with special effects in film.
What was bad: everything, and I mean everything else. The acting is horrifyingly bad, and made worse by the incredibly dumb things the actors have to say and do. Mickey fuckin’ Rooney might suggest that maybe the stereotypes were a bit over the top. The main dude’s brother (he probably had a name) looks enough like his rival (whose name was Iceman, I think) that at first I thought they were supposed to be clones. The science is crap even given that this is a movie about million-foot-tall robots fighting million-foot-tall monsters. The ending is literally exactly the same as the Avengers, which just came out and wasn’t too terribly original when it did. They spend large portions of the movie insisting that certain things are either Impossible or Really, Really Dangerous right up until the point where all the sudden they aren’t anymore– and not in a Ghostbusters “You said crossing the streams was bad” sort of way, but in a “yeah, never mind that, I’m good” sort of way. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Unavoidably, stupidly, painfully bad. All the punching in the world isn’t enough to make up for it, unfortunately. And I really wanted to like this movie.
I hate it when I’m right.