Big-budget summer action movies always toe a fine line with critics. It’s as if we expect these movies to be huge, cheesy, nonsensical eye candy and, usually, we’re right.
But sometimes huge, cheesy, nonsensical eye candy is exactly what we need. Pacific Rim may fit that billing but, with constant director of awesomeness Guillermo del Toro at the helm, I’m betting on good, amazing fun with a brain.
The premise of Pacific Rim is simple. Giant monsters called Kaiju (“strange beast” in Japanese) have arrived to Earth from a portal beneath the Pacific Ocean and begin to wreak havok on humanity. To combat these monsters, human create assault robots just as big as the monsters. These robots are mentally piloted by two humans in virtual reality outfits, and seem to be outside of the robots’ bodies, acting out kung-fu moves to throw punches, missiles and large transportation vessels at their enemies.
It may seem fun and mindless, but let’s consider how the idea of this movie could have come about. Because there’s nothing more insane than a summer popcorn movie than over-thinking a summer popcorn movie.
The idea of giant monsters coming out of the Pacific Ocean to attack Tokyo and have millions of Japanese people running for their lives is nothing new. That act has been going on since they found someone to fit in a lizard suit in 1954.
While battling giant dragons, moths, robots, and a giant spaceman, Godzilla showed us what being king of the monsters was all about in cheesily awesome fashion.
Unfortunately, Godzilla went through an update in 1998 where he:
a) becomes a dinosaur.
b) attacks New York City, which is nowhere near the Pacific Ocean.
c) gave Matthew Broderick his one and only chance in a monster movie.
d) has lizard-babies. Process that. The movie was named Godzilla. We Americans labelled Godzilla “King of the Monsters”. These same Americans make the king lay eggs. I’m all for the choice of going transgender if that’s your thing, but having Godzilla become a woman didn’t help anyone.
Because of these issues, Godzilla was all but forgotten when good, old-fashioned man-in-a-lizard-suit sequels to the original concept were released from 1999-2004. A new, Americanized Godzilla movie is slated for 2014. I can safely say that it can only get better.
Transformers + Real Steel + Avatar Divided By Voltron
With the monster inspiration well in hand, we next turn to the heroes of the film: the robots. Pacific Rim features these giant robots called Jaegers, probably due to the creators drinking a little too much Jagermeister when they came up with the concept.
The first thing that comes to mind when dealing with giant, destructive robots is, naturally, Transformers. Not really Gobots, because everyone knows Gobots suck.
Of course, Transformers are aliens themselves, so that wouldn’t work for this movie. We need to have a human element.
Yeah, the idea of humans fighting in giant robots like they did in Voltron will do nicely. We don’t need them all merging to become one giant super-bot for Pacific Rim. That would be too much of a rip-off. We’ll let each robot fend for themselves.
But won’t it be dangerous for the human inside the robots? This isn’t a cartoon, here. People can die or, at least, act like they’re dieing.
We got that covered. Remember a little movie about a paraplegic who covertly infiltrated the land of the giant, blue cat people?
That’s right. Jack Sully didn’t need to be in person to harness Toruk, make love to a giant, blue animal-woman, and save the world. He just transferred his mind into a giant, blue animal-man. No big deal.
Maybe the concept is a little far-fetched but, in the movies, this is evolution. Hugh Jackman already proved that humans could control giant robots by applying special control gloves in Real Steel. It’s kind of like Nintendo’s Power Glove, except for your whole body. Nevermind that it actually works for more than just that stupid game Super Glove Ball.
So what are we left with? A lot of fear for the sake of this movie. But there is some light at the end of this movie. For one, Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed it, and he hasn’t really disappointed anyone except for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. We also have a cast that includes Charlie Hunman (Sons of Anarchy, Children of Men, Undeclared), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy, The Last Supper), and Charlie Day (yes, that Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
While Pacific Rim may seem like an experiment in chaos with so much going on, at the very least it’ll be entertaining, whether it fails or succeeds as an actual, critically acclaimed movie.