You’re about to get into a nearly 5000 word one sided discussion about PACIFIC RIM. I’m giving you the short, right up top. JUST GO. You don’t need to read this. You must pay witness to this movie. If you’re on a site like this it is because you probably love the great visual effects movies of all time. This is one of those. In addition, it has a multitude of characters that you and your family and friends will have favorites among. A whole generation will dream of giant robots as well as X-Wings and Enterprises. It’s got characters out of a Howard Hawks war adventure movie. Engineers, scientists, strong leaders and a group of Jaeger pilots that I fell madly in love with. There’s characters peppered into the film that you want whole movies dedicated to. Mechs and Kaiju… doing things – just amazing man. ILM OMG. Prepare to be Awed. This is Guillermo Del Toro knocking at the doors of legend and he struts his way in with a movie that turned me into a little kid in the best way possible. I can’t wait to go to sleep and dream now. Now… Get ready for me to lose my geek mind. The deeper you go, the more heavy the spoilers. But friends – Just GO – come back and celebrate with me. This is the best.
For an entire generation that sees PACIFIC RIM with their families, this will be the beginning of something huge in their lives. This was a very creative and fun audience of filmgoers and families that love film together. There’s a process in the film called DRIFTING. It’s where the two or three pilots of the Jaegers (Mechs or Giant Robots to the less initiated) fuse their minds with the operating system of the machine. Their actions become as one – and in that space they share everything with one another. They can hide nothing and everything that person has experienced is shared. We don’t have that yet. That’s not a tech we can quite plug into yet, but its coming relatively soon. Instead, we have movies. These beautiful, stunning and fascinating shared realities – where after we see them – we as a whole can discuss what we just experienced together.
After watching PACIFIC RIM, one friend told me that they had an experience with a kid that have left them chatting excitedly for two hours. These two have been trying to connect, but this film gave them that common ground. I loved that story, because that’s been my experience with cinema. It isn’t just the movie you see, but who you see it with. Tonight, Guillermo asked me to ask the audience to watch the film with the wide eyed wonder & enthusiasm of an 11 year old kid dreaming of the most gigantic tale of monsters and robots. Can you do that? I can. Oh boy can I.
I’m not sure how I’ve been able to preserve my inner child, but he definitely runs my mech form. Tonight, we saw a movie that we’ve been dreaming of since we were growing up. My dad collected robots. It was a thing of his. He ran Sci Fi & Comic & Film Conventions. We owned a full body foam rubber GODZILLA costume and a friend of ours owned multiple Godzilla movies and GORGO in 16mm… We had King Kong. He had FORBIDDEN PLANET and we had DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. We did family & friends movie nights – ALL THE TIME as a kid. I know I did not have the normal upbringing. Movies & Comics & Geeky cool works of fiction were ingested regularly. My parents knew and entertained Science Fiction authors, Comic Artists and Actors as a boy. So for me… dreaming of what films COULD be has been something of a past time.
When I saw EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, that film launched a dreamscape that changed my life. When those WALKERS showed up, that was a fixed point in my life. ILM had done something to make my eyes open larger than they’ve ever felt they’ve opened before. BLADE RUNNER did that too. The great visual effects films enhance the language of our dreams. When I read comics, novels or watched animated tales – I dreamt of the most amazing fully produced vfx spectacles. As time has passed, we get jaded to a repetition of types of imagery. PACIFIC RIM is truly the most refreshing family suited monster sci fi adventure story told with great characters played wonderfully on the most spectacular sets. Lived in universes. Places you looked at and believed in them. Saw characters, saw their scars or felt them. This is that kind of awesome.
Tonight, ILM and Guillermo Del Toro and Spectral Motion and Wayne Barlowe and a whole host of amazing artists have presented a new shared dreamscape.
PACIFIC RIM begins with Charlie Hunnam’s narration that we’ve heard pieces of as a history gets laid out that leads us to the present in the film… some 20 or so years from now. A dimensional rift in the Pacific opens up and belches out a giant monster. It eats San Francisco. Wanton death and destruction ensues. Then it happens again. And again. The world decides to pool its resources, technology and create something that doesn’t irradiate our entire planet… It’s the Jaeger program. We’re introduced to the reality that forms around them. The pilots become the rock stars – and the monsters become the new toys of the world – even as they unleash death – only, the Jaegers are killing the beasts – and whole cities are being saved. But progressively – the creatures are getting stronger, faster, smarter… The world decides to build a giant wall… they begin to shy away from the giant robots – as it’s probably best to just keep the monsters out. ONLY – the wall is a bad idea. And underfunding the Jaeger program… well… Folks, we need to agree to fully fund the Jaeger program with the giant monsters from another dimension start unleashing wanton death on our planet.
One. It is COOL. Flat out cool. Packed to the rim with cool! Before the film a very tiny boy came up and gave me a Gipsy Danger toy for letting him and his Dad into the screening. That is just about the sweetest thing ever. After the film, his father asked us to pose for a photo and then the kid gave me a hug. He thought the film was the best thing ever.
Actually – all the kids that came to the screening were just blown away and individually all had to tell me it was the best film they’d ever seen. I TOTALLY KNOW THE FEELING.
PACIFIC RIM can be your kids favorite film ever – and it’s filled with sights like you’ve never seen like this before. I can absolutely guarantee that. This is just mind blowing stuff. The monsters have personalities, just like the Jaegers. They’re beautiful creatures.
However – for those wondering if this film has more than the best visual effects that you’ve ever seen before… the answer is a resounding YES!
The film isn’t about two characters. This is a story about a set of brothers, a father and a daughter, a father and son, a man and wife and a pair of chaste burgeoning almost lovers, but definite soul mates. It’s a story about a little girl terrified with everything taken away from her, but finding a life that will leave her afraid of nothing ever again. It’s the story about a man that had an experience so hard he never wanted to feel again. Another story is about a man who has to stand strong even as his body is failing him. And that’s just the Jaeger pilots.
Charlie Hunnam has been being described as the Luke Skywalker type – but I disagree. He’s not Luke. He isn’t Han either. Raleigh Becket is more the Johnny Storm of the FANTASTIC FOUR type… until he isn’t. After the opening credits, that changes. He’s had a life experience that I can’t even imagine. To be neurally linked to your brother as he dies… Hell, they made a whole movie just about that, it was called BRAINSTORM by Douglas Trumbull – and because my brain functions cinematically – Christopher Walken came to mind. It helped to inform my empathy for the character, but he isn’t that character. Instead, he’s become a drifter – not really wanting to ever get close to anyone or anything again. He’s working on the big WALL project. He’s left the Jaeger life behind. He can’t imagine letting anyone in his head again. Until Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) comes to recruit him.
In the trailers and clips that you’ve seen. Idris Elba is always yelling. That’s a front. That’s the bravura of a man with a ticking clock. When he asks Raleigh how he wants to die, building a wall or in a Jaeger fighting these things… well, it’s something he’s asking himself too. More than that though, he has a legacy – something he’s leaving behind when he goes that he wants to give the right lease on life. He never out and out says it, he isn’t the kind of man who does, but Stacker is looking for the next him. In Raleigh he sees the makings of that. Not the cold unemotional commander, but who he was before he had his soul ripped out of his life. Yes, I did read the prequel comic by screenwriter Travis Beacham that Guillermo edited… So yeah, I do have additional information. You see, Stacker’s copilot in Coyote Tango (his Jaeger) was his wife. It wasn’t quick for her. She got a lethal toxicity that had her fade away and they adopted little Mako Mori, played as an adult by Rinko Kikuchi…
When you see Hunnam’s Raleigh and Rinko’s Mako “Drift” the first time – You get a lot of her story – and Mana Ashida is one of the most awesome child performances I’ve seen in a very long time. She instantly – from her first screams of helplessness and terror – freezes my soul. My wife and I had a conversation that occurred earlier in the day about family hopes – and when she screamed I was instantly emphatically attached. She’s alone. Giant monster just tearing up the street blocks behind her. The jets overhead are basically total bullshit. They might distract the Kaiju named Onibaba, but Onibaba is eyeballing the female Jason of JASON & THE ARGONAUTS. She’s got just one shoe on, though she’s clutching the other in her hands, crying. Just like Jason’s single sandal. Why was the Kaiju fixated on her? Well, I believe that perhaps the beings on the other side had a glimpse of what that girl’s destiny was. We see the beings on the otherside of the dimensional rift – who knows how they perceive things. They seem to have a high degree of all-knowing oneness when it comes to a lot. It’s like they knew to attack Hong Kong. Maybe they knew about that girl, but what they can’t predict is the actions of a mechanical being driven by a dual mind. That’s why the Jaegers can make a difference.
The universe that Guillermo’s built for PACIFIC RIM is that of a mythic alternate future not unlike that of something like what Roddenberry gave us with STAR TREK. Only, with dimensional attacks instead of space exploration. It is a viable science fiction possibility. This is a very hopeful future for dealing with the scale of unfathomable danger and peril. In this ‘verse, the entire world comes together to fight and defend the homelands. It isn’t just China fighting to protect Hong Kong, but Russia, United States and Australia. With pilots from still other points. Just like Trek. I’ve always loved these dives into science fiction. Be they Space Battleship Yamato or Star Trek or a whole bunch of Anime.
I’m quite fond of us settling all problems and focusing on a problem at hand. Right now, there are organizations on this planet set to begin Asteroid and Moon Mining Programs. Bases built with 3D printers. The digitizing of a mind is being worked on. If you keep up with science right now – and the sort of WOW tech that’s on the verge, the relative immediacy of this as a viable science fiction reality… minus the giant Kaiju threat from the anteverse. I love the idea that we could RAMP up a Giant Mech Warrior defense and assault program. Because I do believe in our collective powers to overcome any manner of problem we have before us. I’m an optimist. Sure, there’s a lot to get angry about every day, but if you focus on what science is starting to bring us – a lot of those fears turn to a genuine hope for humanity, despite a whole lot of publicized stupidity in the world.
This story is about those that are dedicated to not simply ignore the very real threats to our way of life, but the engineers, the scientists, the technicians, ground teams, the folks that get the job done. Even if its on the shady side, there’s a real triumph of the adventurous human spirit in this movie. It tells you that you can aspire and conquer.
Coming into the film, I knew I’d love Charlie Day’s Dr Newton Geiszler. He’s someone fascinated by the Kaiju. His knowledge of their biology feels so genuine and affectionate. For him to be the foremost at his field and age – he feels like the absolute Rock Star of his universe. After he mind melds with a living chunk of Kaiju brain – he’s literally seen things that no person has ever seen before. He’s seen the otherside. What he brings to the table is absolutely revelatory. For all this time, all that could be studied about these creatures were their cadavers and their statistical frequency and escalating size and power. When Day’s Newton suddenly comes back with – There’s these controllers on the other side. These are genetically printed cloned & designed monsters – controlled by malevolent terraforming masters from the otherside… That they learn from each of these Kaiju attacks and adapt. This combined with Burn Gorman’s Gottlieb’s more hard evidence of impending doom tells them that the problem at hand is gonna get pretty terrifying. Burn’s Gottlieb really won me over when he decides to be less critical and more helpful. I love that the science geeks drift together and find the specific method to basically save the world, at least for now, because the war that is coming isn’t something they can win. The world has set to building a wall that will be irrelevant. They’re down to 4 Jaegers, they’ve had 51 in all. You see some fight and win and some fight and fall.
When a Kaiju takes out a Jaeger, there’s an emotional hit, because you not only care about the people inside… but oddly enough there’s a real sense of attachment to these things. By meeting the support team, the people behind these machines. Then you see them in their Shatterdome Environment – they’re majestic. It kind of feels like GUNS OF NAVARONE – by way of the coolest Anime fantasy base. But when you see Jaegers lined up. The mechanics working, fixing, restoring battle damage. And those shots are real built things that just JAW DROP. I mean. IMAX 3D. Wow. And then seeing the Jaegers in the combat, that the Jaeger pilots are not wantonly destroying property. There was a moment in the film where you’re on a street level shot of a Jaeger pounding down the street and you’ll visually believe you’d see the Jaeger just tear through an overpass, but instead these human pilots step over it. It’s isn’t a huge thing, but it’s an example. Most of the fights take place in the water, as the whole point of the Jaeger program is to battle these things before they can get to a city. They’ve got monitoring devices in the ocean to detect things coming up out of the rift. The fights are just epic things to witness, mainly because by the time we see the fights we’re invested in the story because Guillermo has taken the time to do it right, but the reason I love these folks is that they’ve made me laugh and care. That one Aussie pilot, the one that drifts with his Pops… He’s a total hotshot asshole… but his dog redeems him. He’s got a really magnificent bulldog – the perfect 3D creature. In some ways, I actually think this critter is responsible for the outpouring of love I felt towards all the Mech and Kaiju. Watching in IMAX 3D – sometimes – just simple things like watching a muscular and plump Bulldog hustle himself threw these truly epic sets… It makes you notice the motion of critters. It’s like those “Donatello” matches of sparring. It’s fine-tuning your eye for what’s to come. Now these fights are not the hateful kind, but the bond building kind of fights. It’s a common physical way of exploring how a fighter fights, without being adversarial – and I love it. Mako’s fight with Raleigh… You can tell that Mako kind of not only has a crush and looking up to Raleigh, but that she wants to earn his respect. With Raleigh, he’s interested. Her resistance to his returning is something he wants to overcome as well.
Guillermo builds their relationship… in fact all the relationships in this film beautifully. The problem. I want more. I love these characters. We join this universe in full swing, but man, just hearing that Cherno Alpha and it’s Russian pair have been fighting for years… I’d love a film, with a whole lot of English Subtitles with the Russians.
This world is incredibly rich – and it’s one that I’ve always wanted to see done. The Mech vs Kaiju movie. And it’s done for an audience that loved the TOHO classics, but it’s made for a visually sophisticated audience that appreciates the immaculate attention to not just effects, but the designs, the environments, the complete vision. The attention to detail here is just unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I found the film awe-inspiring. My eyes were often saucers drinking in the sights that I just can not believe were made. There are moments that made the entire audience gasp & clap. Friends with kids have had theirs talking about the movie endlessly tonight. It makes me smile. For me a film that can make a kid dream and engage in something genuinely heroic. It’s so cool to me.
Meanwhile with other friends we’d talk about the film being the greatest power stance with soul we’ve ever seen in a theater. You know when you see your favorite band just rock and you feel that energy transferred. This movie is a master artist just unleashed and the immediate reaction after the entire audience sat through the credits and the last frame passed was a voice in back saying, “AGAIN!” followed by laughter, agreement and then people stood up and turned to their friends, family and the GREAT MOVIE VIBE was beaming through the room, out into the lobby and outside. As friends and family walked back to their cars it was just one of those nights. A perfect movie. It is exactly what I hoped it’d be. For extremely advanced OTAKU fans, it may not be your favorite MECH story or your favorite KAIJU story… But it’s the best filmed version of either of those genres. It’s just INCREDIBLE.
I’m sitting in front of this computer with a complete beaming grin upon my face. I look at the Gipsy Danger toy I posed with it’s fist up in the air, next to my old school Godzilla and Raideen toys from the Seventies – and GD’s fist is posed up in the air as if to say right on… like the wolf in FANTASTIC MR FOX. Like STAR WARS, the original, the one that became A NEW HOPE, but is just STAR WARS in my mind… the story is whole and complete. This is a finished tale, but as I allow my mind to drift with the PACIFIC RIM narrative… I am positive I see the partnership of Raleigh Beckett and Mako Mori as just beginning. Because of the Drift component – we could get additional Stacker Pentecost stories. I would absolutely love to see Max Martini become the Top Man at Shatterdome. My sister came up saying she wants an ATLANTIC RIM next. Merrick’s 6 year old has come up with 4 sequel titles tonight.
This film is a celebration and love of some of my favorite cinematic genres that have a pedigree that counts the magic of Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Ishiro Honda… But also H.P. Lovecraft and a whole ton of anime. I’m just not sure if it’s ever looked this good before. I’ve seen it just once, but instantly upon completion I know with absolute certainty that the second I can procure a 3D BLU RAY - I will watch it to geek out with friends… OFTEN and on REPEAT. To still frame through whole glorious sequences, but most of all – I can’t wait to spend more time with the characters, the sets… I just love everything on that screen. And in the audience.
I haven’t had the absolute movie glow I have right now since I seriously saw those great classics as they hit. I might see this as much or more than T2 in theaters. I spent a lot time that summer watching T2. Yoko has already signed on board for the repeat viewing wagon. I never doubted I’d love it. But then, I’d read the script, had a Kaiju Skin Bug for a year and a half. Met the actors, saw the world they built for it – and man. I love this like I did LORD OF THE RINGS and the later HARRY POTTER flicks. But it kicks more ass than those.
Man, Guillermo – you beautiful maestro. I can’t wait to see the kids that grow up with this in their lives. What a fucking movie! WOW.
OH – and Ron Perlman and Santiago Segura. In this enormous gigantic summer movie… There’s this sub-universe. It’s an industry that has popped up by a self-made man calling himself Hannibal Chau, we don’t know his real name. He’s procured a exclusive license to KAIJU biological matter. He’s taken the medical world by storm, and the exclusive Kaiju collector market and scientific community. Kaiju are toxic monstrosities, but they’re a whole different dimension of useful parts. Ron Perlman pops up on screen and it’s just an audience wide smile in the room. He instantly makes the whole place laugh, but not in an obnoxious manner – it’s sheer love man. He lays into Charlie Day’s Dr. Newton by stating something that the genius hadn’t thought of – and it’s TRUE! One of my favorite moments in the film. Then the resulting focused Kaiju attack targeting him – still psychically attached. Then you discover that Santiago Segura is Perlman’s front man, and procurer rare Kaiju organs. Now this stuff isn’t gross out – because the interiors of these beasts are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It looked just. I do not have the words. I suppose it was gore, but gore done like the most beautiful enchanting magical space ever created. It’s like going to Whoville by way of Guillermo Del Toro’s mindspace.
The dreams. Ohhhh, I should stop writing and go to sleep. This is gonna be the best. Go see PACIFIC RIM with people you love to see movies with. Need an AMAZING night at the movies and a dinner afterwards? Oh hell, I have to go to London tomorrow. Man, I’ll be looking down at the Atlantic expectantly, giddily. OH – I need to load GORGO up on the iPad. Hehehehe.
OH MAN – the anteverse. Can’t wait to talk about the extradimensional masters. Visually, it’s a whole new vocabulary. I need to watch it about 12 more times to really get a vernacular for how to accurately describe it. I need to look at it a bunch. A WHOLE LOT.
I haven’t even really talked about the Kaiju, which is just freaking ridiculous. First off – way cool detail – there’s a cult growing Pacific region religion that props up out of the skulls of the Kaiju, which become amazing cathederals. We don’t really go into one, we see it from the outside… BUT I love to think of the Scrimshawed murals depicting the ravages of the angry Kaiju gods. I can totally imagine how amazing that’d look. But that scrimshaw stuff is just my imagination – cuz it’d be cool and all.
So we see some of the San Francisco Kaiju – well, essentially it’s a trailer for the San Francisco Kaiju movie. Like, watch the trailer for BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA… but instead of a sextupus and ol Rhedo… You get this incredible Axehead. This is the first big tease of a Kaiju, but what you see is awesome. But as we shift to the mission that changed everything for our narrator Raleigh – he goes to intercept Knifehead, long before he could reach shore and in direct violation of Stacker’s orders… it’s. The bull goring or rhinoceros thrust of the horn… as it tears through metal… it’s brutal. It’s violent, yet not upsetting. You care… but it is… SAVAGE. Savage is the word. This is the mission that made Raleigh quit for five years. It is an impossibly hard fought victory, but with costs. Knifehead really almost killed him, scarred him psychically. He becomes a bit Terry Malloyish. It is a titanic fight at sea. The elements in full swirl. It’s the sort of fury the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’ve been dreaming of this stuff for a life time, but it’s never ever been executed like this before.
However the next full on attack is the just “one for the records” fights of all time. I will dissect these chapters of the 3D BLU frame by frame – just it’s just beautiful. I want to see every frame of work. In motion, it’s most impressive. You’ll look at it and become Han from ENTER THE DRAGON looking at Bruce Lee very impressed. That was just exceedingly exquisite visual excitement! It involves two Kaiju – LEATHERBACK and OTACHI. Leatherback is just the most fun to animate, cuz he movies like an insane armored King Kong… but with a look… that’s just a marvel to watch. Guillermo loves his to have time to reveal themselves… same with the Jaegers really… when circumstances means you have to up the battle – they have things in reserve. I want all of these Kaiju with working glow parts. That have insane life use. And I want to be able to toss it across the room and it with stand dog fighting with. The way LEATHERBACK fights is like a gorilla that knew what it was really doing. He’s smart in the fight – has the best POWER weapon of all the creatures. But his big shots are so incredibly fun to watch. That fight with Gipsy Danger is wow. When LEATHERBACK and OTACHI are taking on Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha – they’re totally the most badass evil wrestlers ever. Except these bastards bite and rip things apart and spit horrible grotesque amounts of glowy blue acid… And it’s savage. By the time Striker Eureka joins the fray… it is just AMAZING. I have wanted to see this kind of stuff this kind of way my entire life. It’s the stuff ripped smack dab out of the childhood ID and I was powerless in front of it. The Battle For Hong Kong is largely not a kill porn. Much of the town has been properly evacuated. People are in shelters. But it’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen once you’re with Gipsy Danger and LEATHERBACK, then OTACHI. This stuff is just WOW. THE MOMENT with OTACHI’s big reveal. The audience gasp clapped. My jaw was like… Awestruck… then when a single word with symball appears on Mako Mori’s display… An audience cheer began. We knew what was about to happen and what happened was FUCKING AWESOME! I’ve been trying to reign in my language – but man. MAN. This is the stuff we’ve never seen.
The kinds of creatures like out of those early TALES TO ASTONISH monster issues… but with KAIJU and LOVECRAFTIAN touches. There’s some classic design work here. Art community is gonna dream away with this stuff.
I felt the Russian and Chinese crews were a tad undeveloped – and I’d love to see all of their mutual fights and full stories with their crews. I have a strong desire for hours of Cherno Alpha punishing Kaiju action. But most of all, I want to see the crew and know them.
The final battle – the big desperate leap into madness – legend. Took a big sack. First off – if you actually out loud repeat what all the Jaeger survived to do that leap – I bet Andy Howell’s super math brain can fully articulate the “NO WAY” of it – but damn if this stuff visually is just SUPER HEROIC MECH ACTION!
It is the most different Hollywood Spectacular – that cinematically feels completely redefined. This has never been done better. Guillermo knocked it over all the fences. As for what to do know? Get tickets, perhaps multiple tickets for the same day. If you have the time. This is great SHUT UP AND WATCH stuff.
I’ve stayed up all night rambling about this movie, I still have the same goofy grin on my face. Intermittently I’ve picked up GIPSY DANGER and move him. I have the PACIFIC RIM: MAN, MACHINES, MONSTERS book and I keep flipping through it, reading up on everything. Wonderful to see ILM generate something just flabbergasting again. This stuff is just… GREAT. The model work destruction stuff is just wow. They built enormous models to create the destruction – contrary to the all CG argument. Wait till you see the sets. Wait till you fall in love with the characters, you’ll pick favorites. Everyone at my screening seemed to. Lot of Charlie Day and Ron Perlman and Rinko fans, everyone seemed to love Idris, Hunnam and Clifton Collins Jr. I have a mad love for Burn Gorman’s Gottlieb. That guy really cracks me up. And the DOG. LOVE THE DOG! Can’t find his name.
I saw PACIFIC RIM on July 7th. I get on a plane in 11 hours. A TransAtlantic one. If anything horrible were to occur. ONE HELL OF A LAST FILM. However, if I get to London, man. What a week.