Robots punching monsters: On Pacific Rim

Pacific RimSo, due in no small part to all the geek movie sites I’ve started following since Lucasfilm’s October surprise, I’m actually started seeing a lot of movies in a timely fashion. Shocking!

Today that meant Pacific Rim, which I honestly enjoyed. I was a bit apprehensive going in, because as much as I enjoy a good popcorn movie, I’ve never been much one for Japanese-inspired pop culture. There’s just some kind of cultural gulf I’ve never been able to bridge there. Plus pretty much every ‘giant monster’ movie I’ve seen is thanks to Mystery Science Theater 2000, and I can’t say that the giant robot genre is any more of a favorite. (I stopped being able to take the first Transformers in stride the minute the robots started actually talking, and this is with being in the demographic that regularly watched the cartoon as a kid.)

But Pacific Rim has none of these problems for me. It’s a fun movie that made just enough sense in a pop sci-fi kind of way, with lots of cool-looking tech and design and fight scenes. All those years in Star Wars fandom aside, I’m not a nitpicker on this sort of thing. It was fun.

Spoilers beyond this point.

There’s been a lot of talk about the cast’s diversity, and damn right, that is a plus, and it only makes sense, given the plot. If this movie doesn’t make Idris Elba an Actualfax Movie Star (finally) I will be shocked.

(Can we talk for a minute about the Generic Hollywood Pretty Boys like Charlie Hunnam and how I can’t tell them apart half the time? No wonder fangirls are drooling over Benedict Cumberbatch – I don’t see the attraction, but at least he doesn’t look like everyone else. Yes Hollywood, PLEASE diversify your casting, because attractive men do come in more than one color and configuration.)

And you know, there’s been a lot of talk about the ‘romance’ between Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, but it can easily be read as completely platonic. (If they were both guys, no one but fanfic writers would be talking about it.) Not every female character needs to be paired off with a mate to have a satisfying conclusion, folks. Honestly, I’d have no beef if it did end in actual romance – the subtext is pretty ambiguous – if nonsexual cross-gender partnerships weren’t such a movie rarity. In any case, the bulk of her emotional arc is more tied up in her daughter/mentee relationship with Elba.

I ended up seeing it in IMAX 3D, mainly because that was the showing that fit my schedule. The 3D was good, but I’m not sure I would notice the difference in resolution between an IMAX and a regular screening, at least not at standard screen sizes. I’ve only ever been to the super-giant museum-style IMAX before this, so seeing a normal-sized screen was just… okay. But, on the other hand, the last movie I saw on one of those giant screens was The Matrix Reloaded and no one needs to know Laurence Fishburne’s pores that well. But I bet Pacific Rim would look fantastic there… I can’t not recommend the IMAX. (Though I should note the theater I saw this from is only 5 minutes away The Henry Ford’s giant IMAX screen, which is currently showing something about butterflies instead. Step it up, IMAX.)

Quibbles? Charlie Day’s scientist is completely over the top in the fanboy sense. Plot be damned, I wanted Ron Perlman to knife him.

Giggles: One of the monsters looks kind of like Jar Jar Binks at times. No, seriously. You’ll know it when you see it.

Further reading

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