Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Pacific Rim

Okay, so this movie was bad on so many levels and in so many ways that I hardly know where to start. 

Perhaps I should start with the fact that even though the mecha/giant robot and kaiju genres were invented in Japan, none of the main mechs in the movie are Japanese.  Yes, one of the co-pilots of the main mech is Japanese--but there's a huge problem with that which I'll get to.

Then there's the fact that the suiting-up montage at the beginning of the film involving the star (Charlie Hunnam) and his brother directly rips off the look and many specific details of the suiting up of the space marine at the start of the StarCraft II teaser video (  If you've seen the movie or plan to, check out the vid.  Blizzard should sue.

Then, even thought this is ostensibly a war movie set in the near future, there's the complete abandonment of every concept which applies to modern warfare.  What's the technology du jour right now?  Drones.  There are no drones in Pacific Rim.  There should be masses of them.  In fact the jaeger mechs really should be remotely piloted drones.  If pairs of compatible pilots are so hard to put together, why are the valuable pilots in the actual robot instead of a simulator room back at base?  This makes no sense.  The neural link could easily be transmitted to the robot--particularly given the short distance from base at which they operate.

And why are they even using ground mechs?  Obviously if you're fighting surface-bound kaiju you want to pummel them from a distance with guided missiles, aircraft, and drones.  That way they can't hit back, except maybe by throwing things.  Modern missiles are extremely accurate, long-ranged, and loaded with plenty of explosives.  As soon as a kaiju emerged from the water to begin wading in to shore the missile bombardment would start blasting chunks off it.  Drones would provide laser targeting or even launch beacon harpoons into the beast's hide for the missiles to home in on.  And why aren't the jaegers armed with any missile weapons?  Well okay, one has a battery of one-shot guns, but the others are all melee.

Some of the opening battle scenes feature aircraft attacking--but only strafing runs with their cannon.  Modern strike planes would use guided missiles or bombs with added guidance units to deliver serious tonnages of explosives on the kaiju from range, not make strafing runs with ineffective autocannons.  And even when strafing the pilots would be smart enough to keep their distance.  But no, the movie has sophisticated modern jets making WWII-style (or even WWI-style) strafing runs which take them right into easy striking range of the kaiju.  Militarily speaking the entire movie is an absurd piece of crap.

And that leads in to the whole tone of this movie as something created by neanderthal thugs about neanderthal thugs (apparently for an audience of neanderthal thugs).  From the discussion of military technology above it's clear that all that fancy missiles and drones and laser guidance was left out because its all just too much for techno-neanderthals to understand.  How would neanderthal thug types deal with a situation they don't like?  Punch it in the face.  So naturally when colossal kaiju start invading the obvious response for them is to punch them in the face.  But they're really huge so you have to bulk up to colossal size to punch them in the face.  Hence absurdly complex and expensive, yet absurdly crude jagers.  It all makes perfect sense to dim neanderthal thug types.  Don't apply any intelligence to the situation, just find a better way to literally punch it in the face.  It even goes on to the fact that the hero's jager is "analog" and "diesel powered" (I kid you not)--and probably has a stick shift manual transmission somewhere--because that's the highest level of technology dim techno-neanderthals can understand.  Even the cannons on the one jager with guns are muzzle-loaders!  OMG, seriously!  Apparently fancy-pants jaegers with nuclear power plants, digital control systems, artificial intelligence, multi-spectral sensors, and ranged weapons are just for faggots.  Real jager men drive diesels and punch things.

And the whole neanderthal thug tone of the movie carries over into the "heroes" of the film.  Every one of them is apparently a former "professional wrestling" star.  They're all about hostile shouting, insults, and constant threats of violence as the routine basis for communications, and use of actual violence to "settle" things.  It's almost like a prison gang film with some giant robots and kaiju tossed in for flavor.  I don't think we're in Robotech anymore Toto.

And that brings up that almost all the primary and secondary actors are male.  And huge neanderthal thug males at that.  And about half of them are not just male, but blond-haired, blue-eyed aryan master race poster boys.  Okay, so the Marshall is of African descent, but that just makes him kind of highlight the overwhelming whiteness of the jager pilot teams.  Umm, wouldn't a lot of them be from Japan and China?  I would expect so.  And the Marshall is apparently from Britain.  Britain isn't a Pacific rim country.  But wait, their base is in Hong Kong, which is British, right?!  No, actually they gave it back to China over a decade ago, but whatever.  The one Asian crew is an "exotic" three-man team from China--but I don't think they ever even mention their individual names and they get a total of about 30 seconds of screen time.  The only two non-thug male characters are the two "scientists" who are portrayed as super mega-geeks played in exaggerated cartoonish stereotypes.  They're obviously meant to be comic relief but the over-the-top super-geekiness is so overdone that it's kind of sad instead.

And the fact that almost all the primary and secondary actors are male means that there are only two female characters.  One is a secondary role of a co-pilot of the Russian jager but one is a primary character, jager co-pilot Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi/菊地凛子).  Okay, so here they finally have someone Japanese actually appearing in a jager of the genre they created and, in good anime style, she's a very cool character.  The movie takes time to build up her character, letting us know that she has won all 51 of her simulator fights, giving us a scene where she shows her martial arts skills in a competition against the hero to be his co-pilot, and also puts in a really great flashback dream sequence with her experiencing the kaiju attack as a young girl in which her parents died.  Thus we know she has the jager piloting skills, the martial arts fighting skills, and the psychological motivation to kick some kaiju butt.

But during the big final battle scene she just goes all limp and has to be rescued by the aryan poster boy hero.  It's a really irritating throwback to the old movies where the female leads would inevitable twist their ankle and have to be carried to safety before the male lead could engage in the final single combat with the baddy.  But naturally in a neanderthal thug movie you can't ever have women actually accomplish anything or be a winner.  She thought she was pretty hot stuff, but in the end she drops out and has to be rescued.  Absolutely revolting misogynistic crap.  I do not want my daughter to see this movie--well not until after I warn her about the propaganda bullshit in it.

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