Movies: Pacific Rim

An impressively designed film that demands big-screen treatment for full effect (though with the size and quality of some home entertainment systems these days, that doesn't necessarily mean one is required to see Pacific Rim in the cinema). Truthfully, this movie was exactly what I expected it to be, and there's something to be said for satisfying an audience's expectations. Then again, in many offices performance reviews have "meet expectations" and "exceeds expectations," and while Pacific Rim lands safely in the former, I can't say it really touched the latter.

The story itself is pretty simple and well known to, oh, fans of old Godzilla movies and/or the animé Evangelion: Terrible monsters (here the word is "kaiju" from the Japanese—something I've actually been known to call my kids when they are behaving beastily) have risen up from a breach on the ocean floor and are . . . periodically . . . smashing shit up. It's kind of a pain. So big mechas called Jagers have been created, and these are piloted by two people who must be neurally linked in order for the machine to work properly.

I guess my real question going in was: Why are these kaiju causing all this trouble? What do they want? Do they eat people? Seems to me, based on their sheer size, a mouthful of people can't possibly meet their nutritional needs. Do these kaiju just not like, I dunno, cities for some reason? I mean, in the first instance one rises up and attacks good ol' San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. (As I've mentioned before, movie people like to break our stuff.) But why? Just because it can?

I realize I'm reading too much into this. It's a monster movie, so who cares why they do what they do, right? But I can't help it. I really want to know what's in it for the kaiju to come up and make a mess like that.

Anyway, the Jager program is on the brink of being shut down and a huge "Coastal Wall" is being built to keep the kaiju out. Except, as it turns out, the wall doesn't keep the kaiju out. And worse, the attacks are becoming more frequent. (Another question, just for the sake of it: After all these attacks, how is the Sydney Opera House still standing?)

There are only four Jagers left. And only one chance to end the fight once and for all: A nuclear bomb must be dropped into the breach where these kaiju are coming from in the hopes of collapsing and sealing it off. Evidently this has been tried before, but the breach is protected or shielded in some way; the bombs just bounce off. So a couple zany scientists are tasked with figuring out a way to make it work this time.

The movie sort of splits into two: Zany scientists over here, mecha battle stuff going on over there. Ron Perlman shows up wearing really cool clothes. Honestly, I think he should dress like that all the time. But whatever. Long story short (too late), one zany scientist neurally links with a kaiju brain only to discover they are hive-minded, and thus by linking up, he's now given away the good guys' plans. To all the kaiju.

But! He's also figured out how to get into the breach: dino kaiju DNA. The breach evidently keeps out all but kaiju. Meaning in the climactic final battle, a Jager just needs to cloak itself in a kaiju carcass. You know, wolf-in-sheep's-clothing kind of thing.

And so here's my final question: How do they know that collapsing the breach will keep the kaiju out? Will the kaiju just reopen it at some point? It all comes back to why the kaiju want to attack us, and how determined they are to get at us, I suppose. So my original question isn't so useless after all.

Pacific Rim didn't do as well in the States as one might have hoped or expected, but it had a great haul overseas, particularly in China, where these kinds of films have especially good track records. Last I heard, a sequel was in the planning stages. Let's see . . . Pacific Rim 2: Back to the Breach? Whatever. I at least plan to have a bigger television by then.

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