Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.
See also: http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart
My name: Brian Martin
Under the Pacific Ocean, not far off the Hong Kong coastline, lies a fissure that is the gateway between our dimension and another, a place where monsters live. These monsters -- called Kaijus -- regularly travel through the gateway to wreak havoc on Earth, and on humanity in particular. When the story opens, this has been going on for years. To combat them, mankind has developed giant robotic warriors -- called Jaegers -- that must be piloted by two people working in tandem and joined by a neural bridge. This is the story of two such pilots who are the last hope for the human race.
I'm afraid my first thought was not a kind one. Since the robotic weaponry -- plasma cannons or somesuch -- is effective against the monsters and since a real problem for the Jaegers is proximity (having to engage in hand-to-hand combat) I wondered why the great minds of men hadn't simply mounted these weapons on attack helicopters and, whenever a Kaiju started lumbering toward shore, lined up about fifty of them in the air in order to blow the bastards into tiny little pieces. The fact that we see military jets and helicopters in useless battle against these creatures did nothing to enlighten me. Even better, of course, since the gateway is under water, would have been to put the weapons on submarines and stationed a bunch of them around the fissure itself so that when a Kaiju poked his ugly nose into our world, he'd quickly have to retreat for a little plastic surgery.
Ok, so it's obvious I have no background in what I've discovered is at least two distinct genres, kaiju and mecha (Jaeger). That is, I've seen monster movies like Godzilla and I've seen all the Transformers films, but evidently that's like using the Model-T to understand a Lamborghini. And in fact even I can see that Transformers, which are an alien species, are very different from Jaegers, which are the tools of mankind. So I must beg the indulgence of fans of these genres.
What I figure is that we're just supposed to accept the Kaijus and the Jaegers and roll from there. In a better movie, I could have done that, too. This one fell just short, unfortunately -- though not because of its special effects, which are very good on the Jaegar side and only disappointing on the Kaiju side because director Guillermo del Toro clearly didn't think they were good enough to withstand strong lighting. No, the problem with this movie is, it lacks a compelling human story.
If humanity is on the brink, it's nice to be given some reason to want it saved. In Transformers, I didn't want the Decepticons to win because that would have meant the end of humor and good, ordinary people -- and because I wanted Sam to get the girl. In Pacific Rim, with all its insubordination, petty jealousies, and criminality, well...let's just say I had only my generic humanness to fall back on when picking sides.
The basis for a human story amid all the cacaphony of battle is there. The hero, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), has to take on a new partner-pilot, a woman named Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), and the two, of course, have to establish that neural bridge that links their minds and memories. That's an incredible bond, one that could have been used for much intriguing character development as well as plot complications. Instead, besides a memory that reveals a pivotal moment in Mako's past, it's treated like the Kaijus and the Jaegers, as a fait accompli.
Purely as an action film, Pacific Rim works. You'll have to decide if that's enough for you. It wasn't for me.