Why you should (probably not) see Pacific Rim (maybe)

If you saw Pacific Rim already, I can’t help you. Like us, you were probably sucked in by the “robots vs. monsters” premise and thought hey, how can I lose?

If you didn’t see it in theaters, you may now have a decision to make, because it’s out on DVD. I can’t make the decision for you on whether to see it, because here’s the question:

If you see Pacific Rim, what movie are you seeing?

Are you seeing a film with incredible visual intelligence, so smart that you should ignore the achingly bad dialogue and stop talking smack about it? (I couldn’t tell you, I was too distracted by the achingly bad dialogue. And the plot holes.)

Are you seeing a film that cannot! stop! with the stirring emotional moments accompanied by violins, including one about 5 minutes into the film when a character dies that you can’t even remember the name of, can barely tell apart from his brother, and have no reason to care about? (Yes, you are.)

Are you seeing a film where humanity can spend A YEAR AND A HALF building the first monster-fighting robot and “just not think” about including radiation shielding for the pilots? And everyone in the film seems to think that’s perfectly reasonable? (These are the same characters who agree that an EMP won’t affect one of the robots because its power source is non-nuclear. Apparently it uses no electronics anywhere else?!?!?!)

A film with such a strong need to pay homage to Voltron that its lead characters don’t bother to pull out their giant monster-dissecting sword until there’s been plenty of property damage, loss of life, and also a monster has grabbed them and flown very, very high up in the air, meaning the robot is going to get f*cked up when it lands? (Even my 6 year old rolls his eyes at Voltron tropes, y’all, this is embarrassing.)

A film with a lot of good character development and a well-written stirring speech? (No, I’m sorry, that’s just not true.)

Are you seeing a film where an atomic bomb will kill giant monsters, but all a giant robot has to do to survive is kneel down and wait, with a giant sword stuck in the sand? (Sorry, yes.)

Is it a film with Idris Elba? (Yes, and that’s always a win. Even if his character’s name is “Stacker Pentecost.”)

(Yes, it really is. I’m sorry.)

Is Pacific Rim a film with an almost unprecedented representation of an Asian woman in an action film?

Yes, you are.

Is it a film I could recommend sitting through in order to appreciate that representation? I honestly can’t tell you, because this movie was seriously bad. Seriously. So bad that C-Man and I almost left the theater. The “scientists,” the outright stupidity of 70% of the characters’ decisions, the plot holes and the terrible dialogue, and the overall grinding boredom. There’s about a minute where it’s entertaining to watch a giant robot wail on a giant monster with a freighter, but that’s it. And given how badly humanity is dealing with the giant monster invasion, it’s really hard to care who wins – just like in 28 Weeks Later, you almost find yourself rooting for the other team just to save yourself the embarrassment.

Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi, was not my favorite action heroine, and I had some issues with her character. In particular, I hated how much time they spent on her personal past trauma, using the white male lead to pull her out of it. Given their respective personal paths, he should have been the one who struggled and needed help. On the other hand, I loved how she felt completely qualified to judge him as a potential giant-robot-operating partner, and I appreciated that their eventual romance was firmly based on mutual respect.

In the end, though, my personal white lady opinion of her isn’t as important as how Asian women generally interpret her. They’re best qualified to judge if she’s a big step forward for them, and I’m reading plenty of testimonials that yes, she is. A film or a character doesn’t have to be perfect to be inspiring anyway, or we’d be hurting for cinematic girl power.

So if you see Pacific Rim, you’ll get that.

If you can stand the rest of the movie.

2 thoughts on “Why you should (probably not) see Pacific Rim (maybe)

  1. Beth W

    Hmmm I haven’t seen it yet, actually for the most part I hadn’t even really heard about it before this but it’s not really my style of movie I guess. I do hate that you’ll find some movies these days that are lacking in every aspect but special effects (I don’t know if this is one of them) but seriously why go all out on the special effects and throw everything else down the toilet- oh because people can. Because some people don’t even care what the movie is about or how bad it is if the effects are good. I know it might not change anything but why do we allow producers and directors to make garbage and still throw millions of dollars into seeing it. I appreciate posts like this where you can read honest reviews on them and then not have to waste your money :).

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