Film review: Pacific Rim – Sit in the back

When you see “Pacific Rim”, I recommend you sit in the back center. Because call it what you want: Transformers vs. Aliens, a 3-D monster B-movie, a cartoon come to life, this movie is an assault on the senses. My wife and I started in the seventh row, but realized quickly we needed to move back or risk seizures.

For the first time since I was a kid, I actually jumped back a few times during the magnificent opening sequence. The filmmakers really try to push things out at you, the snow, the rain, the monsters falling to the ground. It feels like in the 1920s when they filmed the train coming at the camera and when they showed it the audience ran out of the theater in fear because they had never seen such a thing. The way all the elements are amped up, they might as well have pumped real snow into the theater. It’s a very noisy movie, so loud that when my wife put her hands over her ears like the young Asian girl in the movie.

“Pacific Rim” concerns a new threat to the human race, the Kaijus, some sort of alien sea monsters, which have started attacking coastal cities. This has lasted for seven years in the timeline of the film. Humans have built huge warrior robots called Jaegers to defeat them. The Jaegers are controlled by two human pilots who undergo a mind meld called “drifting”, and together they operate the machines. But the Kaiju have begun defeating the Jaegars, and the government has decided to cut the program’s funding in favor of big walls. So the Captain must bring back, surprise, the best pilot ever, who has, of course, retired after losing his brother on a deadly mission.

“Pacific Rim” has many spectacular and stunning sequences. The story in between exists just to get you from one sequence to another. There is no conflict. Everything is so easy for the characters. Like “I have this obstacle” “Oh, well here’s how we will fix that.” “Excellent. Obstacle solved.” All exposition. The dialogue is terrible. The music is so clichéd, signaling exactly the emotional beat of the moment. The mythology is interesting, but by the end you can’t see, hear or think straight, and so it is just confusing how they finally resolve the battle. The actors are mostly boring, although Idris Elba is very committed, and Charlie Day and Ron Perlman bring their usual whimsical exuberance to the show.

The reason to go see this movie is the visuals. I saw it in the IMAX dome, and I think this is the only place worth going to see it. If you are going to see a movie only for the visuals, see it where you will get the maximum effect. But like I said, sit in the center back so there is a buffer zone for full appreciation. There are some magical images and beautiful shots to admire. Del Toro’s imagination is fully on display. The drifting sequences are very cool; I wish they had explored this aspect of the story more. It is intriguing. The 3-D is fantastic. The depth of the images is amazing, almost surpassing 35mm. When we finally see the ocean in daylight, you really feel like you can reach out and touch it. This is probably due to the help of James Cameron and Alfonso De Cuaron, who are given a special thanks along with David Cronenberg and Alejandro Inarritu in the end credits, which I noticed because they played the credits all the way through. By the way, there is a post credits sequence you can stick around for, but I’m pretty sure they will turn on the lights during it.

I was still disoriented when I left the theater. Pretty 3-D colors were still bouncing around in front of my eyes, as if I was teenager tripping on acid. My favorite thing about the movie is the moral: analog always beats digital. Analog Jaegers can still fight even when digital Jaegers are defeated. Records sound better than mp3s. Film looks better than digital cameras. VHS is more reliable than DVD. Long live analog!

Pacific Rim, Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, directed by Guillermo del Toro

On at: Brasov – Cityplex; Bucharest – Grand Cinema Digiplex, Grand VIP Studios, Hollywood Multiplex, Movieplex Cinema Plaza, The Light Cinema, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, Glendale Studio, CinemaPRO, Romtelecom IMAX; Cluj – Cinema City Iulius, Cinema City Polus; Constanta – Cinema City, Cityplex; Iasi – Cinema City; Targu Mures – Cinema City, Arta 3D; Timisoara – Cinema City; Oradea – Cinema Palace, Cortina Digiplex; Ploiesti – Cinema City; Craiova – 3D Colours Cinema; Pitesti – Cinema City; Arad – Cinema City Galleria; Baia Mare – Cinema City; Satu Mare – GM Cinema 3D; Braila – Cinema City Braila; Bacau – Cinema City; Tulcea – Cityplex

By James Longshore, guest writer

(photo source: Pacific Rim on Facebook)