2013-07-13

Pacific Rim – Big Robots Are Awesome; Right?

by Yo Snyder

When I was ten I first discovered Robotech, I didn’t think there was anything cooler. Big robots that
could change into cool jet battling aliens in space; so awesome. Then I
discovered Escaflone, and then Appleseed, and well, I’ve loved that
whole anime-giant-robot stuff ever since. Watching Pacific Rim took me back to those days of youthful innocence; it’s
a live action anime with all the classic elements of the genre. Big robots,
crazy looking monsters, broadly told stories with broadly developed characters
and a little bit of cheesy silliness. That’s not a formula that everyone will
enjoy, but if you can approach this movie with a bit more of a child-like
attitude – less critical and more willing just to enjoy the fun – Pacific Rim can be a thoroughly
enjoyable and fun ride. It’s one of those movies that’s just meant to be
enjoyed with a little child-like wonder and isn’t all that compatible with
grown-up cynicism.

There really isn’t much to know about the story aside from
the fact that big monsters are attacking the world and humans build big robots
to fight them. Why those robots have to fight with their fists, or why time and
money wasn’t invested in creating awesome weaponry to fight with doesn’t
matter. It’s just cooler this way. Sure there are some interesting ideas
introduced about why the monsters are attacking and where they’re coming from,
but they’re not really developed because, again, it’s not really important; it’s
just cool that they’re there and that big, awesome looking robots have to fight
them. And yes, there are some human characters involved, and they’re all the
typical stock characters from any anime, including the wacky to the point of
almost being annoying scientists. However, we’re not going to this movie to see
the humans and their drama, we want to see big robots punch some giant
monsters. Fortunately, this movie has that in spades.

Really, the only downside to the monsters and robots action
is the fact that so much of it takes place at night and in the rain. Apparently
it rains a lot in the future, and conveniently often when there are giant
monsters running amuck. Also, much of the action takes place in the ocean. The
problem with both scenarios is all that water can obscure the one thing we
really want to see; robots and monsters fighting. It has the same effect that
some of the shaky camera work did in the Bourne series of movies; it keeps us
from clearly seeing what it is we really wanted to see clearly. That issue
aside, the fights are pretty awesome and clearly the main reason to see the
movie. The ‘bots and monsters are given a great sense of scale and weight. The
punches and attacks all have a lot of heft to them with a look and feel that
just feels right for a giant monsters/robot battle. Plus, boat bat is pretty
stinking awesome. I paid my money to see awesome robots and monsters throw
down, and despite all the water obscuring things a bit too often, I definitely
got my money’s worth with Pacific Rim.

Still, the question remains of why any of this is happening.
While the answer really isn’t all that pertinent to anything happening in the
movie, I thought it was interesting that it was considered at all. As one
character explained, some believed the creatures were sent from heaven, that
the gods were punishing humanity for their actions. The more scientific,
however, pointed out that due to our lack of environmental care, we can
effectively terra-formed the planet to make it perfect for an invading species
to inhabit. I thought that it was interesting that an eco-friendly slant was
inserted into this type of movie, but of more interest to me was that mention
of the gods. Elsewhere, it was mentioned that there are some forces that are
beyond our ability to control; “acts of God”. Why is it, exactly, that it’s
only disasters and destruction that are called “acts of God”? Hurricanes and
natural disasters are acts of God, but anything good is the achievement and altruism
of our natural human spirit. We take credit for anything good and worthwhile,
but when there’s death and destruction that doesn’t make any sense or seems to
have no reason for happening, we assign the blame to God. I’m not here to
preach a sermon or anything like that, I just think it’s an interesting question;
why do we refuse to acknowledge God in any shape or form until tragedy, death, and
destruction takes place as an “act of God”? I don’t know if you know this, but
God isn’t out get us. He isn’t angry at us, he doesn’t want to destroy, and he’s
not a God of anger and wrath. In point of fact, God loves us. God loves you.
And he doesn’t want your destruction, but rather went to extreme, amazing
selfless measures to secure your salvation for all eternity.

Of course, Pacific Rim
isn’t interested in delving into such philosophic territory, it just wants to
entertain the child within with the things that, at least for me, I found
really entertaining as a kid. Big robots, big action, big destruction, and big
heroics. Yeah, it’s all predictable and by the numbers, almost to the point of
being rote, but come on; that giant robot just beat the snot out of that crazy
looking, huge monster creature! How awesome was that? If you’re looking for “refined
cinema”, Pacific Rim is definitely
not the film for you. But if can enjoy a film just because it’s fun despite its
flaws and paper thin characters and enjoy seeing giant robots doing things only
giant robots can do, then you don’t want to miss Pacific Rim. No, it’s not the best film of the summer, but I’d have
to say it’s definitely one of the most fun and one that will leave a silly,
goofy smile on your face because you just saw a silly, goofy movie…and it was
kind of awesome.

Score: 5 of 7: This
is just goofy fun with monsters and robots. The monsters aren’t particularly scary,
and although there is some gooeyness and monster’s blood, it’s not particularly
graphic. A few scattered bad words here and there, but overall, it’s exactly the
type of stuff I loved when I was ten. I can see more of the silliness now that
I’m grown, but it’s still fun.