Multiplex - a comic strip about life at the movies

Spoiler Zone: Pacific Rim talkback


Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim came out this weekend and made $38.3 million here in the US ($91 million worldwide). It’s the biggest del Toro flick to date, but the film also cost $190 million, so it will need to show some legs to make a profit theatrically. It does seem like it’s in good shape to make a profit eventually, though, which is good for two reasons del Toro’s career and the prospect of actually seeing more original genre films get made, not just sequels and comic book adaptations. It unlikely to spawn a sequel, though. Which is fine.

More importantly, I thought the movie was really fun. The dialogue was cliché-ridden, the characters were relatively thin, and most of the actors are pretty wooden. A notable exception is the girl who plays young Mako (Rinko Kikuchi’s character) in some flashback scenes; that little girl was gifted.

Despite its shortcomings, the pacing is brisk, with only a slight lull in the middle. It’s very funny. The fights are great, particularly the one in the city. (They are sort of slow, but like Jason says in the current strip, I think it’s more because these are gigantic monsters and mecha/Jaegers that could not realistically move as fast as we’ve seen them in the past than because of slow motion. There’s a little slow-mo, too, I think, but mostly the former.)

Spoilers are okay in the comments section here, so if you haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, you have been warned!

39 Responses to “Spoiler Zone: Pacific Rim talkback”

  1. Dolnick says:

    I literally just got back from seeing it. I thought the dialogue and characters were very cliched – including the guy saying he said he’d never fight again, the Australian version of Iceman, the army disbanding, and so forth. I also thought there was a lot of questionable choices with the plot, such as the very belief that walls would stop those creatures and the sword weapon being a last resort, even though it was the very best weapon (apparently). That being said, I went to see it in the hopes of seeing giant monsters fight giant robots and Pacific Rim excelled in that category. The action was so fun to watch, the CGI so impressive to look at, and the overall concept so refreshingly different from a lot of other movies out there. It felt like an homage to all the campy, old Japanese cartoons I watched growing up. So it had its share holes and problems, but I am definitely glad I went and saw it.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      The “hey, let’s use the sword” was definitely goofy. I could buy that Raleigh didn’t know it — that maybe it was an addition to the new Gipsy Danger — but still… c’mon.

      I don’t know that it was the BEST weapon, though. Best in that circumstance? Sure. But I thought the plasma cannon was well established as the best weapon. (It also just ate up a lot of juice, which they didn’t have anymore of.)

      • Dolnick says:

        I feel like it would make more tactical sense to use the sword first and save the plasma cannon (agreed – the most powerful weapon) for when you really needed it, but I’m not actually going to criticize this because I have not been properly trained on how to pilot giant robots.

        The thing that really bothered me was the wall, mostly because as quickly as they established it, they destroyed it. I would have liked to see the monster struggle with breaking through the “impenetrable” wall, to at least give it some credibility as a viable option. The fact that all those world leaders/military heads thought building an inanimate object of cement and whatever else (when the creature is destroying buildings of cement with no problem) was better than giant robots baffled me.

        Again, though, I enjoyed the movie. It was also only the second movie I ever saw in 3D. Still much prefer 2D, even though that goes against the popular vote these days, but I thought they did a good job with 3D.

        • Genesis Cortez says:

          In the fight scene that is Mako and Raleighs first as a combo, I kept thinking to myself: “Gypsy Danger would look cool with a sword” and “Man, if any of these machines had a sword, they could do so much damage”. And then it happened! I was so happy.

  2. Ibasa says:

    Loved it – unlike Man of Steel which made me want to rip my eyes out and beg for a refund (or at least my hours back), this was awesome. Man of steel was a steaming pile trying to be excellent – Pacific Rim knew it’d be cliched and just ran with it.

    • strangerdanger says:

      We’re talking about Pacific Rim, not Man of Steel. If you hated that so much, you probably want to make out with Brian Singer’s crapfest version of Kal-El. Superman Returns was not good enough to forgive Singer for leaving the X-Men franchise, which makes him responsible for two terrible movies when they gave X3 to Brett Ratner. Won’t someone think of the children?

      • Gordon McAlpin says:

        Calm down, and don’t tell people what they can and can’t talk about unless you have a “MOD” badge next to your user name.

        • maarvarq says:

          I do want to make a comparison with Man of Steel in regards to soundtrack. Pacific Rim’s was loud and fairly bass heavy, but seemed appropriate. Man of Steel’s was like both

          a) the film repeatedly grabbing me by the lapels, shaking me and screaming “This is exciting, why aren’t you excited?!” and

          b) being beaten up by General Zod.

          Back to Pacific Rim, whilst in a kaiju vs giant mecha film, I should have well and truly checked my suspension of disbelief at the door, the bit where that one sprouts wings and not only takes flight, but carries away our heroes’ mecha, elicited from me an “Oh, come on!” (in a good way), and the sword was a delightful piece of insanity on top of that.

          Overall, I enjoyed it, and whilst it was good that they didn’t force a romance between Raliegh and Mako, it was slightly improbable that he didn’t kiss her when they were on the raft at the end – heaven knows I would have.

          • Jesse O'Reilly says:

            When I saw them there on the raft, I immediately thought of the end of You Only Live
            Twice. Pacific Rim’s ending was kind of a nice subversion of that.

          • maarvarq says:

            Still slightly improbable :-)

          • Jesse O'Reilly says:

            Interestingly enough, in Alex Ivrine’s movie novelization, they do! =)

  3. fbihop says:

    I liked it. I don’t generally see that many movies (which makes it weird that I read Multiplex, I guess), so it was a big deal for me to see the movie.

    I though that Charlie Hunnam was really bad in it, but everyone else (Idris Elba especially) were good enough to offset it. They even used Charlie Day well, when he can be a distraction if used incorrectly.

    I suspended my disbelief in that a robot punching a monster was more effective than a missile, but I wondered why it took so long to bust out the sword if it was so effective.

    The special effects were even better than I thought they would be from the trailers.

    However, this is one movie that could have benefited from being split up into a few movies; the whole opening monologue/montage could have been a movie on its own. That said, worth the $10.50.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      If this does well enough (doubt it), a prequel would definitely be fun — yet at the same time, I kind of like the fact that they DIDN’T go the “let’s count on a sequel to give this story a proper ending” route.

      • There’s a mini-prequel, sort of, in the tie-in comic Pacific Rim: Year Zero.

        But I agree that between del Toro’s steering away from overt militarism, a SLEW of characters dying, the resolved (but still probably off-putting) alien colonizers plot, and, being real, Charlie Hunnam’s one-note performance– plus that it’s not a movie that screams “DEL TORO” at you, and is more serious (and more expensive) than most summer children’s movies, and alternately less serious and more of a downer than most adult action blockbusters– it’s not going to do awesomely at the box office. Which is a bummer! Because it was so much fun. :(

      • fbihop says:

        Now that the movie is out, I don’t think that there should be any sort of prequel or anything. That has to be planned out way in advance, I think. The movie was just so… dense and had so much going on, it could have easily been split into a couple of movies.

        Now that they didn’t, though, too late.

  4. meketone says:

    Pacific Rim was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, and I just let myself be okay with the physics problems (why would you make the head such a complex removable part? So many pieces to fail! Enter the suit through a hatch). And like Gipsy Danger being painted with pin-up girl as if it were WWII bomber, I tried to think of the story flaws as tributes to action movies. It worked, and I was more than pleasantly surprised at the entertainment value I received.

  5. angelorabbit says:

    I enjoyed it. I went in to see robots punch giant monsters. There was a robot, and it punched many monsters many times! SUCCESS!

    Seriously though, I loved it, but it does have its flaws.

    Did not enjoy Mako at all, as she was basically the only female cast and she was a weak “need the man to stand up for her” and she only did what her makeshift father figure told her to do. She also is immediately established looking out her door window checking out Raleigh. And not just once… its like shes sitting there, waiting and watching. And she is clearly oggling and jittery and like a wimpy little embarrassed school girl. If she was supposed to be top in the class in skill and intelligence… then why was she portrayed so weak? It was pretty infuriating for not ONLY the smurfette syndrome to be applied here, but for it to also be applied in way that just made the only girl cast seem so weak.

    Other than her, everyone was weakly portrayed and cliched (as stated before) as a typical cartoon character personality. And I would have loved to see some more of the Russians and Chinese crew fighting.

    Oh, and I was soooo glad they didn’t force a kiss at the end of the film.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      My reading of Mako was a bit different than yours, I think. I do think she was passive, but I don’t mind that because she was more fully developed than most of the other characters. I don’t equate passivity with weakness in characters, though it is admittedly a stereotypical trait for a female character, especially a Japanese one.

      I definitely don’t think she only did what Stacker told her to, for instance; they even had that line where she said, “It’s not obedience; it’s respect.” She loved him, and it was his call.

      • angelorabbit says:

        I guess you could call it understandable off that line… but I almost feel like that was their “excuse.” I guess I just don’t see it justified with her being the only female character. But I guess its because my fiance is feminist (not the crazy type) and we just spot these tropes and inequalities in character development (or character types) quite often in movies. However, tropes and archetypes will be around forever.

        • Gordon McAlpin says:

          As a writer first and a feminist second, I find the “tough chick action heroine” stereotype that pops up one and then to be just as eye-rolling as any other stock female character. Equality is best served by good writing and well- rounded characters, not creating/using equally flat, reactionary tropes.

          I thought Mako was fairly well-rounded (relatively speaking: the men were almost all cardboard, too), but certainly a more prominent, active female role (i.e. the Russian) would have been nice.

          • angelorabbit says:

            Agreed on both accounts.

          • ishneak says:

            yeah that was cool. the girl in the Russian team was calling the shots, right? even though the Russian guy was this huge dude haha! she still reminds me so much of Gwen Stefani or the late Brittany Murphy.

    • ishneak says:

      almost had the same thoughts on Mako though got a lot more lenient/forgiving upon second viewing (1st for IMAX 3D, 2nd in 2D). i have been following and getting myself exposed to the Japanese women’s national football team, and even though they are awesome and kicked the ass of the American girls in the World Cup they remain very passive, meek and terribly modest. so if there’s a badass Japanese fighter like Mako, i wouldn’t find it hard believing if she’s still very respectful of her seniors.

      also noticed by 2nd viewing that many times Raleigh’s arm has been compromised, Mako pulls off these smart, awesome moves with the left arm. she also provides the best ideas when they need to improvise in a certain situation.

      still, i’m a little bit still disappointed in Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako, i thought she’d be more feisty though that in itself may be a tired trope.

      PS: in the original script, the roles were actually reversed. Mako is the war weary vet, Raleigh the rookie.

  6. |[P]| says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed it, but only because I was able to switch off my head sufficiently. The plot was actually more interesting and involved than I expected, but the dialogue was atrocious and much of the acting was fairly poor. But that’s not what I was ever going to be judging it on.

    It hinged on the action which was superb, although I was surprised they didn’t do more with the Chinese jaeger in particular before it was taken down – no well-choreographed coordinated three-arm attack, for example. It didn’t feel slow to me: it felt right, and with a suitable level of humour – swinging a ship as a weapon.

    The only point that irritated me was the inconsistency of the blue acid: it’s hugely corrosive if spat but fine if you punch the same kaiju in the mouth? My friend suggested you treat it “like dragon fire” and he’s probably right.

    Also, it was one of least offensive uses of 3D lately. I’d have happily watched it in 2D, but I can’t say the 3D detracted from the film (which is what I’d usually say) and there were a few scenes that were probably heightened.

  7. Tyler L. Young says:

    I don’t get hating on the movie for having cliched characters and a thin plot. The film was a love letter to Toho films–are you telling me those movies are known for their complex characterizations? The movie succeeded in doing everything it wanted to do, and it gets an A in my book.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      I read a review that actually said Pacific Rim was better than Transformers 2 and 3, but not as good as the first Transformers which “actually had characters and a plot.”

      I was like, “Did we see the same movies?”

      • RDW0409 says:

        Not only did Pacific Rim have more, better plot than the Transformers films all combined, it also had a cogent theme worth the time it took to express. Closest thing Transformers had to a theme was “yay death and explosions.”

    • RDW0409 says:

      I agree with this assessment. It struck me as very much in the vein of the Marc Cerasini Godzilla novels, some of my favorite books in my early teenage years. Think Ender’s Game but, instead of Mormonism, Godzilla.

  8. outsdr says:

    I didn’t see Mako’s interest in Raleigh as romantic, but more of a hero/celebrity infatuation. I also really enjoyed the two bickering scientists, especially Burn Gorman.

  9. LazerWulf says:

    I LOVE the fact that there was no Romantic Subplot, and that at the end of the movie, they didn’t kiss. And it would have been so easy for them to do, too. The nature of The Drift being such that Raleigh and Mako have shared an intimacy that other couples never do.

  10. LazerWulf says:

    This review had a bunch of interesting points. Among which is the fact that Pacific Rim basically serves as its own sequel. (It’s a spoiler-y review, but, as this is the Spoiler Zone (TM), I felt it was okay to post)

  11. Molly K. says:

    Kinda random, but thank you for singling out Rinko Kikuchi in this post. Her acting was absolutely incredible!

    I read somewhere that a possible sequel could involve Newtown’s mindmeld with the kaiju. I loved his character quite a bit, so I wouldn’t mind if he got more screentime.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      Mana Ashida played Young Mako, actually; I was too lazy to look it up before. Rinko Kikuchi played adult Mako.

  12. Heather Meadows says:

    I had a lot of fun with this movie and its use of giant robot anime tropes. I also thought the portrayal of Mako was refreshingly equal–she does need rescuing at the very end, but so would a man who had lost oxygen, and up until then she shows herself to be just as skillful a Jaeger pilot. She proves equal to Raleigh’s fighting skill and he acknowledges it with admiration and zero embarrassment. Also, I never got the impression that Pentecost was keeping Mako from piloting because she was a woman, even when his actual motivations were unclear. (I originally thought it was a psychological issue.) I also really appreciated that Raleigh and Mako’s relationship was that of comrades rather than lovers (though there was that peeping scene, which felt out of place).

    To me, the main feminist issue of this movie is that there were hardly any women. One of the scientists could have easily been a woman; there should have been more women workers and soldiers; the Russian could have been fleshed out more.

    There were two story things that my nitpickiness wouldn’t let me ignore. The first is that Mako was rather stereotypically Japanese even though she wasn’t raised in Japan. I think given that she was taken in by Pentecost at such a young age, she probably would have had a very different upbringing and been exposed to different cultures, and therefore wouldn’t have had the mannerisms and behaviors she displayed in the movie (or at least not so strongly). And secondly, when the kaiju uses what is apparently an EMP (though admittedly, they never call it that), Raleigh says Gipsy Danger is okay because “It’s analog. Nuclear.” That’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, but I think it only bothered me because I used to be part of a giant robot play-by-post RPG, and we had lots of discussions about the physics and science of giant robot battles.

    I was willing to give the number of people who inexplicably could speak Japanese a pass because it was a giant robot movie. I was actually surprised Japan wasn’t featured more heavily in the film.

    Ultimately, it’s not a perfect movie, but it is a fun one, and I hope it does well and we get more like it.

  13. Kate Wrede says:

    I really had a lot of fun watching this movie, but there is one thing about it that kind of made me a little sad. I wish that there was a little more time taken to develop the Russian and Chinese teams. They were all really interesting characters, and their mechs were really intriguing. I was really disappointing when they went down so fast. I wanted to see how the brothers made use of that 3rd arm (the placement struck me as really odd), and I wanted to watch how the Russians interacted with each other. They had such awesome designs, and it think its a real shame that we didn’t really get to see much of them.

  14. Varmint says:

    Just saw this tonight. I thought the effects were awesome, the creature designs especially cool, and as cliche as it sometimes was it was still a great popcorn flick and worth the money. (Also, I’m grateful that they had the wherewithal not to shoehorn in a romantic subplot for once).

    My biggest nitpick though, and BIG SPOILERS AHEAD, was the subplot involving Idris Elba’s character’s deteriorating health. There’s a lot of buildup about how his time as a solo jaeger pilot affected him and how he’d die if he went back to piloting, and then in the final act he pilots one and he’s…perfectly fine? No visible problems whatsoever. If he hadn’t sacrificed himself with the nuke there appeared to be no reason to believe that he wouldn’t have returned from the mission safely. It bugged me, but since it was a minor gripe I still say it was a good movie overall and worth the ticket price.

  15. GreyGriffin says:

    I think the movie was about three separate quarters of 3 great films all tied together with bad american action movie schlock. Part Real Robot, part Super Robot, part classic Kaiju, and part Crap We Forgot One Of The Chapters of Man With A Thousand Faces Quick Get The Third String Writer On That.

    At the beginning of the film where they started talking about commercialization of the Kaiju and the celebrity factor, I really thought the film was going to turn into an interesting take on a commercialized, privately funded reality TV style show, like the anime series Tiger & Bunny. That obviously didn’t happen.

    Once I stopped listening to the dialogue (about 45 minutes in), the movie turned genuinely great. The visuals were unparalleled, the use of 3d was tasteful, and the real weight and power of the Jagers was apparent, and the vast scale and elephantine grace of the conflict had the pleasant side effect of not turning the 3d into high budget shaky cam.

    The only thing about the action that disappointed was that there wasn’t more of it. I really wanted to see more of the other two Jagers in action, but I guess they spent their special effects budget on the absolutely unreal water effects. (The shot of Gipsy Danger picking up the fishing trawler was so incredible visually, it really established the scale and the *reality* of these robots.)

    Very enjoyable watch. Disappointed the script rode the median between serious and over the top, but that was not enough to override the incredible visuals in my mind. It takes a *lot* for me to get over bad writing, but this one really took it away.

  16. Javad says:

    Usually I have a very good suspension of disbelief for movies, but this time, there were so many things going wrong, that I couldn’t help but to start noticing them.
    Just to mention some:
    All the kaijus are coming out from the same spot in the ocean. Why not just dome that hole/portal?
    Fine, they can break through the dome, but they’re still coming out from just one point in the whole world. Why not just post all jaegers around it and kill the kaijus as soon as they appear?
    Punching the kaijus is more efficient than missiles? OK, maybe brute force is more effective. But why not use such an efficient weapon as the blades from the beginning? And it has two of them, why use only one at a time? Towards the end, Gipsy Danger slices in two one of the kaijus just by standing there, so that sword was really effective.
    Sacrifices… we see the jaegers have escape pods. Why didn’t the australian and the black dude use them, after activating the bomb in their jeager? The thing was already set to go, so no need to stay there.
    You needed kaiju’s DNA to pass through the portal back to the aliens, but you don’t need it to go the other way around? The escape pods just went through by themselves.
    The aliens plan was stupid. Why send one kaiju at a time? Just send a horde and be done with it.
    You can send and receive radio signals from both ends of the portal. Why not send massive EMPs to the alien side?
    A jeager that is fully analog? Yeah right. Let see doing something like a drift without the help of a computer.
    The interactions between the scientists were funny, but too much over the top.

    Add all this (and more) to the bad acting and plain characters. As others have mentioned, the best actor in the whole movie was the little girl. Her performance was awesome.

    All in all, I was enjoying the movie until maybe 3/4 through. Then all those things I mention started to accumulate and finally made me see how bad the movie was. Not even the awesome fights could help it.

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