Crank up the PACIFIC RIM hype machine! Reactions (mostly positive) to last Saturday's test screening continue to pop up all over the internet, and now we've got a bunch of new stills from USA Today. Like this!
I have been trying like hell to stay unspoiled on Guillermo del Toro's kaiju epic, but the first review posted below blew that straight to hell. While the reviews aren't 100% positive, if you look around online I think you'll find that the good far outweigh the bad. This is excellent news for Warner Bros, which finds itself in the difficult spot of launching a franchise that doesn't have a particular book/comic pedigree. And its most recognizable star is... Ron Perlman? Good buzz will be hugely important. Money-shot-laden TV spots on every major sports event between now and July 12 are a must. If HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS can crack $20 million on opening weekend, I'd like to think people will turn out in droves for PACIFIC RIM, but quality's got nothing to do with it.
Here's a reader review from El Prof, who's mixed on the film. He likes the action, but doesn't care for much of anything else. This is the most negative write-up I've read thus far:
I was at the Burbank 16 Saturday afternoon. Call me El Prof. Also, I was a little older than many in the audience, so you might want to take my review with a micron of sodium chloride...First, I love Del Torro's films. PAN'S LABYRINTH is in my top 10 films of all time, and the first Hellboy movie was stylish, quirky and fun. Same with MIMIC and THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. Plus, I'm a huge daikaiju fan. The Gamera trilogy of the 1990's set the benchmark for all kaiju films.SPOILERS:To refresh, a kaiju is a giant monster, and a jaeger is a giant robot with two human pilots operating it in tandem.PACIFIC RIM is a phenomenal concept looking for a story. I was actually bored at times, which reminds me of something I read somewhere long ago, that giant monster movies are like porn... its hard to come up with something interesting between monster scenes (sex scenes for porn).The same problem exists in PACIFIC RIM, which between monster scenes focuses on the relationships between the robot jockies, how they train, their personal demons, etc. But the lack of originality in the character relationships was tedious and deflating. The Australian father/son conflict ("You were never around for me when I was growing up!"), the young, hot, tough, skilled-at-martial arts Asian girl who has issues that stem from her parents being killed by a kaiju when she was six character, the tough-as-nails commander who has a secret, and the handsome zero-body-fat hero who loses his brother in an early battle come straight out of the Movie Magic Screenwriter bin of stock characters. None of them are interesting, sadly, and that's a shame. It didn't have to be that way. None of them really change, which is a dramatic necessity (the Asian girl does actually come to grips with her issues, but we never see really how or why. It just happens)I think, too, that there are some painfully obvious issues of logic. The Jaeger program is going to be shut down because its no longer effective (the kaiju are getting bigger and stronger and defeating the jaegers) and the leaders of the world are building a containment wall around the whole Pacific Ocean... so what, the kaiju can run free? Really? Just as illogically, a scene showing a kaiju break through one of the completed walls in less than a half hour proved that their solution won't work. Yet we never see the world leaders again saying, "Okay, our idea won't work. What else can we do?" In fact, aside from the opening summary of how this whole thing started, which was excellently done, we never really see the general population at risk of kaiju attack. What is the world doing while the jaeger's and their pilots fight off kaiju attacks? The honest answer is, I don't know. Perhaps people in Cleveland or New York or Miami, far away from the Pacific Ocean, are watching reruns of "Three's Company" and ordering-out Chinese food. Regardless, I never got a sense that anyone other than the department of kaiju defense and the jaeger pilots cared much about the kaiju problem.As much as I love Ron Perlman, too, I found his character's existence ludicrous. He gets the rights to the dead kaiju, so that he and his team of misfits can harvest the organs and bones and sell them? That Idrus Elba's non-politician, grunt-like character "gave him the rights" to handle such an operation? No way, no how. The fact that a character such as this exists shows that the rest of the world is disengaged with the kaiju problem (wouldn't there be some special department to study the dead kaiju? Perhaps to create a biological weapon?) Apparently, the world, again, doesn't seem to be too concerned about the kaiju.The story such as it is is so rushed that the important moments are given scant screen time, while the dull moments (the aformentioned unoriginal character conflicts) are given center stage. Case in point, the two scientists, who were very entertaining, realize that the plan to close the portal in the ocean floor with a nuke won't work, but come up with a solution within, I'd say, 20 seconds. No drama, no conflict, no real sacrifice to get this information.Like I said, I love kaiju movies. I've seen every Japanese monster movie numerous times, and know the genre. But one thing that bothered me in PACIFIC RIM was the kaiju themselves. Too many of them looked similar, with the "unfolding flower petal head" ala the graboids from TREMORS, or even the sandworms in DUNE. I understand that a cohesive design aesthetic was a choice, but I think it took away from their uniqueness. That said, I loved the gorilla-like kaiju.The good in the film stems mostly from its technical aspects, which I find myself iterating too often nowadays. The sound was amazing, although a bit loud (probably because it had not been completely mixed yet), the music was well-done, if not unremarkable, and the production design is exactly what one would expect in a multi-million dollar Hollywood summer blockbuster. The jaegers themselves were awesome, although I'm still wondering why they take two pilots to operate... but okay. I would like to have heard more variation in the the kaiju roars, which were loud and intense. Godzilla, Rodan, Gamera, even the gargantuas Sanda and Gaila, all had unique screeches and roars. These kaiju seemed to all have the same roar. Too, some of the CGI effects were not completed; some were even still in their animatic stage. But the ones that were completed were simply breathtaking. The best scene in the entire movie is also fairly short... its the scene shown in the trailer of the kaiju attacking the Golden Gate Bridge. Had there been more scenes like this in the movie, with real people in real danger, perhaps it would have been more emotionally engaging.Finally, I enjoyed the homages to some of the Japanese monster movies. The kaiju flying the jaeger into the stratosphere was a great tip-of-the-hat to the same scene in GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. There were others, too, and they will make the daikaiju lovers grin.PACIFIC RIM is an entertaining but flawed film, and like so many other films of their ilk, would have benefited from better writing. I will see it again to see the finished effects, and to see if anything changes after the Burbank screening. Unfortunately, I heard some pretty negative comments from some of the audience, and when the lights came up, there were grumblings and not a lot of clapping.I'm hoping Frank Darabont does not make the same mistakes with GODZILLA that PACIFIC RIM made.El Prof
This review is straight-up love and light on spoilers. I hope this is how I feel walking out of PACIFIC RIM later this year.
Hey Harry-I was at the screening today. I don't want to spoil anything, but to get to the point- the movie fuckin' rocks.I have no background in any retro giant robot/monster movie this may be referencing, so I can only compare it to feeling like a mix of ID4 and the '98 Godzilla (the latter really only because most of the big fights take place at night in the rain). But I really felt (to quote Elsa) as giddy as a school boy throughout most of the film because it felt fresh. Y'know, NEW.But it is a very simple story. It's just told in an incredible, wonderfully detailed, lived in universe.Comparisons to Transformers will come, but it's amazing that even though those films are a little slicker looking technically, I felt far more emotionally invested in this one film than three of those.Charlie Day and Ron Perlman were unexpected delights. They really bounce off each other well and I wish we could've had more banter with them in the sequels (which I hope there are). There are moments with Day that made me think of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, and this film really captures that same tone of uber crazy supernatural elements clashing with everyday, relatable folks. And that makes the movie more awesome.Another great thing about this film is that it doesn't set up a sequel. It's one solid story that has a definitive end. That's something we haven't seen from a major, big budget, franchise film since I can't remember. But you know there will be more stories to tell. More importantly, you WANT there to be more stories to tell. This is a film that triggers the imagination with all the possible adventures these characters could go on and all the different types of monsters they could face.I think my audience cheered and applauded three or four times during the big fights. And they are absolutely excellent. My mouth was open for most of them. 95% of the time you can clearly understand where everything is and who is fighting who. They're GRAND fights, truly epic, and they're edited to make you cheer and applaud.Guillermo Del Toro was actually there and he was just shooting the shit with everyone in the lobby by the popcorn. I've met some famous folks/directors before but this guy was just a generous, down to earth, geekily compassionate dude. It was like I was talking to one of my buddies about movies. A note to studio execs- Let this guy do what he wants. He understands crowd pleasing and gives the audience a worthy experience.I haven't felt this satisfied leaving a giant blockbuster since The Avengers, and I'm not even a big Marvel fan. WB has definitely got a bitchin' new franchise.