Sunday, November 24, 2013

Movie Reviews: Pacific Rim (2013)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writers: Travis Beacham (screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (story and screenplay)

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuch, Charlie Day, Diego Klattenhoff

Genres: Action/Adventure; Science Fiction & Fantasy

I really wanted to like Pacific Rim even though I hated the trailer. My eyes were rolling in their sockets so wildly, I thought they were going to spin out of my head.

It had a lot of good things going for it. Guillermo del Toro is a great director, though as another friend pointed out, he hasn’t done anything great since Pan’s Labyrinth. I loved Charlie Hunnam in the British version of Queer as Folk as well as the Cosmo-nominated Nicholas Nickleby, and though I’m too scared to watch “Sons of Anarchy,” friends say he’s very good in it. I do enjoy sci-fi movies, even cheesy summer popcorn flicks that don’t aspire to greatness. And 72% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a positive rating, so it couldn’t be that bad.

So though the trailer made me skeptical, I was willing to give Pacific Rim a shot and went in with suitably low expectations.

Apparently my low expectations weren’t low enough.

Charlie Hunnam was enjoyable, especially shirtless, and might make my list for Actor’s Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With, but the script was just awful. Even ignoring the clumsy plot holes (this, unlikely Gravity, is not a film that Neil deGrasse Tyson would bother to scientifically critique since it makes no attempt to strive for scientific realism), the dialog was clunky and the dramatic twists were utterly predictable. The special effects were nice, but in an age of digital effects, they didn’t stand out as being unusually innovative. Sure, whole cities got wiped out (how many times do we have to see the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed?), but the scale of the destruction is so immense and rapid that it becomes depersonalized.

Some of the plot weaknesses come from a deliberate homage to Japanese horror films which might delight hard-core fanboys but leaves the rest of us rolling our eyes. My favorite review snippet on Rotten Tomatoes comes from Christopher Orr of The Atlantic, who observed:

"Its visual achievements notwithstanding, Pacific Rim's greatest breakthrough may be that it's the first Hollywood blockbuster to sport a title less descriptive of its plot than of its intended market."
-- Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

I’m sure Pacific Rim will make my Cosmo list for at least one category, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. (Really, Rotten Tomato critics – 72% of you liked this?)

Rating: 1 star

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