Recent Viewing: Pacific Rim

I have had several friends tell me since the Pacific Rim hit theaters that I needed to go and see it. They said that if anime was ever made into a movie, it was going to be this flick. It was some big statement to make, but I finally gave in and decided to check it out.

If you watched the trailer, it basically summed up the premise of the movie. The giant monsters called Kaiju are wreaking havoc on cities and it is up to man to pilot giant robots called Jaegers to take them on. Each Jaeger is composed of 2 pilots that need to merge minds in order to operate the robot. So the plot follows some of you standard mecha series/films plot points.

One of the knocks on the film when it first came out, and one of the positives for some people, were that they felt the film followed Neon Genesis Evangelion too closely. I recall both points from social media when the movie was out, which was one of the reasons I stayed away for a bit. The bipolar effect of the film was astounding. It seemed as if it was a love or hate movie.

I fall into neither tent in regards to the film. I thought there was some good things about it and also some turn offs. Let’s start with the positives.

From an art standpoint, I thought the film was great. The CG was awesome and I felt the kaiju were interesting, even if they didn’t appear a little dark in terms of color, which is really only an issue if you want to see more detail. It was nice to see actual creatures instead of other robots or humanoid type opponent.

The cities and environments were bright and vivid. Areas with neon lights and scenes with bright skies and even the memory scene were all fun sets. The bright color added a lot and made the scenes more interesting overall as well as providing a sense of character. Conversely, some of the scenes that took place in the water were less entertaining to me since I didn’t feel like there was a good sense of where things were since they were out in the open.

I felt the pacing of Pacific Rim was fair. It followed the traditional action movie of starting off with a big action sequence and and filling in story as it progressed. I like stories that do this, in my opinion it jump starts the process of making the audience care for a character.

Now onto the things I felt were a little lacking in the film. In my opinion the acting left quite a bit to be desired. Several of the characters seemed to be too over the top and there were several characters that seemed a little more cold and uninteresting in terms of tone and overall character. I didn’t really feel anything in particular to the main characters. There was a lack of something (maybe charisma?) in the main character that I couldn’t get full behind him at times. His character seemed a little bit too formulaic and the performance was a little flat. The characters that were over the top, I felt should possibly have been more reserved and a couple of the heroes of the story should have been the larger than life and in your face characters.

My other negative point also feeds off of the bipolar emotion the film invokes and that is some of the storyline points. It seems as if the formulaic points of the characters also made their way into the story, but not all. The montage of kaiju attacks at the start of the film explaining their origin and such I thought was great. I also thought the end of the film was unique, but I feel that other things in the middle were as a result of a formula. Like they had a great start and end but highjacked the middle of a typical mecha or action story. The world and characters should have been more open to an unconventional line. I don’t want to spoil any of the story in case you want to check out the film, but I would be interested in others points of view if you thought the story and such suffered from that or not.

I don’t want to really touch the topic of if the film “stole or borrowed” too much stuff from Neon Genesis Evangelion. In my opinion I didn’t feel like it really did. For all the things I heard I was expecting more things inspired by Evangelion but I didn’t see anything too obvious. The kaiju have different origins than the Angels in Evangelion, the mechs are different, the characters in Pacific Rim don’t suffer from all of the mental disorders as the characters in Evangelion do as well. The main characters do not cross over, the ages aren’t the same, even some of the genders aren’t the same. I saw no Misato or Rei characters in Pacific Rim. The mech designs I would say are more inspired by a Gundam franchise. While there were some similarities, I didn’t feel as if anything was ripping anything off.

Overall it was a solid film that I am sure I will rematch here and there. I haven’t checked out the special features yet though either. A second film is rumored to be in the script writing phase so it is unknown yet if a second film will be out. The US release didn’t do that well, but it did well overseas.

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