MASSIVE MONSTERS ENDANGER WIDE SHOTS
Batman Begins was a phenomenal movie but the frantic fight sequences drew some criticism because they were difficult to follow. Ultimately, directing fights in this way is a choice and not all people disliked those scenes. I certainly learned to appreciate them over time. Michael Bay’s original Tranformers suffered from similar complaints. The action was filmed so close at times, it was difficult to discern which robot was which.
Guillermo Del Toro’s epic Pacific Rim is full of larger than life battles. Unfortunately, those battles are as frantic as Batman Begins and as difficult to follow as Transformers. Will I learn to appreciate these sequences more over time? I’m not so sure.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Pacific Rim. On the contrary, I thought it was a refreshing change in a summer filled with established franchises and sequels. The main reason I was so excited to see Pacific Rim was Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination. The director puts so much talent and dedication into every creature he creates and you can see the effort on the screen. The Kaiju & Jaegers are massive creations that feel real and when the camera does pull back, they are breathtaking to behold.
I just wish more of the film’s big fights took place during the day. These giant monsters look their best during the day but the majority of the action takes place at night and it’s always raining. This was the major reason why I found the fights a bit disorienting at times. The shots are beautiful but edited so quickly, you barely have time to process what you’re seeing. However, what I did process was pretty cool.
In terms of story, the film does a pretty remarkable job overcoming an enormous amount of exposition in the first 25 minutes or so. It’s a well put together opening that truly sets up all the action to come. In terms of characters, I felt more connected to supporting roles rather than the two Hero pilots Raleigh and Mako.
Idris Elba steals the show here but leaves just enough for Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman to shine. I don’t blame the screenwriters or the director for my lack of connection to the main characters. It happens sometimes. You can win over everybody. In the end, it’s Elba’s Stacker Pentecost who truly drives Pacific Rim as an intimidating Marshall. He’s the glue that pulls together many of the film’s pieces to allow for an emotionally satisfying end.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it was enough as the film seems destined to be labelled a ‘bomb’ with it’s domestic numbers coming in lower than expected. When the summer began, I expected Pacific Rim to perform more like Inception and less like John Carter or After Earth. It’s a bit troubling because studios rarely bet on a new franchise. They are tough to sell. How do you introduce the world to a brand new world? I think they did a good enough job to get at least a 60-70 million dollar opening weekend. Hopefully it does well overseas. I’d love to see a sequel to this some day.
Irony alert: Isn’t it interesting that you praise a film for it’s originality in a world of sequels… And then look forward to a sequel. I suppose the film does wrap up it’s story pretty well. Maybe this is a ‘one-and-done’ film.
I had to see Pacific Rim. I love big action movies in the summertime. Every week, new heroes emerge to challenge for the coveted box office crown. Pacific Rim is imaginative and entertaining. It does a fantastic job creating a detailed world but doesn’t quite take full advantage of the huge assets that populate it. A little less rain and a little more day light would have easily taken the film from a 6.5 to an 8 in my eyes.
Still, I signed up for giant monsters and robots and that’s exactly what I got so I think 7 is a fair number.