I saw Pacific Rim today, directed by Guillermo del Toro, and I enjoyed myself. For those not in the know, this is a science fiction film with monsters, and giant robots. It seems very simple as a concept, but it gets complicated in a good way. The film introduces the terms, “Kaiju” (the monsters), and “Jaeger” (man operated robots or “mecha” if you’ve ever seen any anime or read any manga). The Kaiju appear out of a portal in thePacific Rim, and they tear through our world. Jaegers or the best line of defense against the monsters. The Kaiju are huge, destructive, and evolving. Jaegers need two people to pilot and they have to be in synch in order to work. Not ever mission succeed, and in fact, at the beginning a tragedy happens.
A note to add, the term “Kaiju” is also used to describe monsters in Japanese films, like Godzilla.
A few elements common with del Toro films that I like are in this film: how warfare impacts children. Symbiotic relationships, authoritarians, and sacrifices. Seeing into Mori’s (future Jaeger pilot) past we know what happened to her, and her relationship with Pentecost (the commander of the Jaegers). We also see Mori’s start as a Jaeger pilot, and how potentially destructive she is on her first try. This highlights how most people can’t be a pilot, and it takes some really compatible people. There is a lot of sharing of memories, as Mori bonds with Becket, her co-pilot who’s on tragedy weighs on him, and threatens to overwhelm his new co-pilot.
What comes across as interesting, but not deeply explored, is the fact that it appears that business drove the productions of Jaegers, and after a string of successes, there was a decision to cut off funding, and look for cheaper solutions to the Kaiju invasions, which predictably don’t work. This budget cut puts a nasty shade on human safety in the face of a worldwide crisis. There is a brief mention that the wealthier people get their safety first, which reminded me of the pecking order of a crisis, and how sometimes, we as people, are not always in a crisis together. Despite the fact the people have to unify, and there is a neural bonding process, there’s this touch that people are alone when a crisis begins.
Some of the Kaiju produce some surprises I’m not revealing here, but it was interesting to see a few times and it made me pause. The fights are extremely violent, destructive, and not everyone gets to come back home after a fight. Within this film, the of damage and brutality is amazing. As resources dwindle down, there’s only four Jaegers left, and that’s all people are going to get to save them. What saves humanity at one point is the fact that one of them is analog and not digital, which reminds me that sometimes newer/advanced is not always better.
The characters in the story weren’t bad. There were some moments where I cringed because one of the scientists, Newt (there’s a sly Aliens reference in there), makes some boneheaded decisions, and some calculated risks that pay off. His sparring with fellow scientist, Dr. Gottlieb ranged from amusing to annoying, and sometimes both at the same time. Also the baby Kaiju don’t forget it. So not adorable.
The wars raged in Pacific Rim aren’t pretty, and survival turns real ugly when you don’t have any power or ability to protect yourself, and some of the people who have the ability to protect you are more motivated by finances than humanity. Still an enjoyable film with a lot of action, monsters, and robots.