“Haven’t you heard Mr. Beckett? The world is coming to an end.”

Ever since viewing ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, the name of Guillermo del Toro has conjured up images of nightmares turned into myth, eloquently retold in the nonverbal language of filmmaking. Del Toro’s Hellboy films, in turn, added humor to his occultist vision of humanity and its pretenses toward civilization. In the case of ‘Pacific Rim’, del Toro takes on the daunting task of making the Kaiju genre his own. In which case, the monsters of ‘Pacific Rim’ are compelled to be measured against such legendary figures as Godzilla, Gamera, and Mothra, creatures of mysterious origin, yet clearly children of the Atomic Age, complete with memorable personalities. Del Toro’s monsters, although artfully designed, are merely rampaging behemoths, targets in a multimillion dollar video game of a movie, in which a host of giant robots called Jaegers take turns doing battle with their Cloverfield-esque nemeses. While the battle scenes can be entertaining, largely due to their epic scale, the characters are relentlessly two-dimensional, relying heavily on a cacophony of arrogant American and Australian jocks. Supporting characters tend to just stand around as scenery, scarcely uttering any dialog, let alone doing anything critical to the plot. How on earth much of the story can take place in Hong Kong with no significant Chinese characters is incomprehensible. As for the one female main character, Mako Mori, she’s played more as a stereotypical “China doll”/”dutiful daughter” than as the soldier she’s supposed to be. Perhaps because the movie depends almost exclusively on special effects, the minimal storyline is overwhelmed by monstrous roars, crashes, and explosions. Also, I don’t want to fail to mention that although I liked the imaginative display of kaiju, no two looked alike, the Jaegers seemed too derivative of Transformers and Neon Genesis Evangelion. In fact, speaking of derivation, the latter third of the movie is little more than a noise-fest, similar to Transformers 2. Also, I didn’t think any of the attempts at humor paid off. I couldn’t even make myself grin at any of the jokes. And if you find Newton and Gottlieb appealing or, heaven forbid, funny, then you’re a much more generous person than I’ll ever be. So, in the end, while I can honestly admit to being occasionally entertained, the overall experience was a bit disappointing, especially coming from a director with such a copious amount of talent.


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