Pacific Rim

I realize this unpopular stance puts me at odds with fervid fanboys nationwide who all but wet their pants over the film this summer, but that’s OK — it’s hardly the first time. I, too, would have loved this movie at the age of 8 … unfortunately, a few decades have passed. 

A mere seven years have elapsed between now and the 2020-set world of Pacific Rim, when kaiju — that is, giant monsters — are very real and very destructive, and the only thing that can stop them are the Jaegers — that is, equally giant robots controlled by two mind-melding pilots strapped inside the metal noggin. (For fun, turn on your Blu-ray’s subtitles and count the number of times “[BOTH GRUNTING]” pops up.) 

Directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim sports absolutely excellent effects — arguably the year’s finest, if not for Gravity. Aside from high volume, that’s all America and I can agree it sports. Centered around gung-ho pilot-on-the-mend Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam, TV’s Sons of Anarchy), its simple story may have a soul, but it’s wrought with in-one-ear dialogue and overpowered by punching sequences every bit as punishing as Man of Steel‘s much-derided third act, despite being shorter. 

Del Toro is a born storyteller; look to Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone or his 1993 feature debut, Cronos, for wonderful, lasting proof. However — and this goes double, maybe triple, for Peter Jackson — enormous budgets and running times to match cripple those powers and exhaust a viewer’s imagination. Pacific Rim is the best example of bringing out his worst; it is a plus-sized Godzilla sequel minus efficiency. 

A fellow Oklahoma Gazette critic terms such noisy, rock-’em-sock-’em blockbusters as “clankety-clank-clank” movies. That’s a perfect description of Pacific Rim, which would win the clankety-clank-clank sweepstakes if such a thing existed. It is, to quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” except that del Toro is too smart and too talented to be an idiot.  —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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