Friday, 26 July 2013

Pacific Rim

I knew the basics before going in, and I know the ancestry, but I'd avoided a lot of the preview titbits out there and came to the film lukewarm, if not cold. So although my expectations weren't heightened and I was aware that everything about Pacific Rim screams BIG. DUMB. BLOCKBUSTER. I couldn't help but be disappointed.

The film is awash with vague stereotyping, from the corn-fed beefcake hunk central role to the 80s stylings of the Russian robot team to the crazed mugging of the science-nerd comic relief roles - the stiff-legged English eccentric and the NHS specs and tats neo-nerd chic geek. The bland characterisation brings unfortunate comparisons with the mess of the Transformers films, and although the effects are impressive, with a lot of massive robot fetishisation and wrestling moves on a macro scale, it sometimes feels like the foley editing is trying to bear the weight of conveying the scale of the clashes as it pummels your ears with bombastic intensity, every connection of robot fist into monster face is rammed home via your eardrums.

Still, if you're making the action the main focus and barely bothering to breathe life into the characters (besides a nice Ron Perlman cameo) why make what screams to be a 90 minute picture stretch out further than 2 hours?

Knowing it's unashamedly a blockbuster helps ignore any quibbles with the details (why robots rather than sub-orbital weapons platforms? Why have pilots physically in the machines at all when drones are a present-day reality?), but it is hard to ignore the genre past - Japan has been churning out massive robot tales for decades, both in live action and animated forms, in the spheres of TV and movies, and in doing so they've managed to get a bit more interest and subtlety out of building sized robots hitting monsters than Pacific Rim ever bothers trying.
The fact that it touches on so little after so long a running time renders it boring, a charge that so far hasn't been levelled at anything Del Toro has directed, however flawed.
I also hear much is made of the monster design, but you only have to look back through Del Toro's past work to find a lot more invention.

It wasn't completely awful, though, Perlman is enjoyable as ever, Idris Elba does well and is happily allowed to be English, the opening exposition sequence is quite good and reminded me of similar elements in Monsters and District 9.

But not good, no. Oh, and the 3D seemed completely pointless.


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