Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Pacific Rim

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Title: Pacific Rim

Is It Better Than Ten Super Bowls? Given how excruciating the Super Bowl usually is, yes. Given early indicators, however, I'm afraid not many will share my enthusiasm.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Four Jet Jaguars out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Giant robots battle giant monsters from another dimension. Often in the rain.

Tagline: "Go big or go extinct."

Better Tagline:"You had me at 'Elbow thrusters!'"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Following the appearance of distinctly hostile kaiju (Japanese for "giant monsters") from a dimensional portal on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, mankind miraculously cast aside petty grievances (such as whose supreme being is ... "supremer") and came together to manufacture giant robots called "Jaegers" (German for "hunters") to fight them. Piloted by two humans in a neural bridge (or "drift"), the Jaegers initially gain the upper hand, but the arrival of larger kaiju, and with greater frequency than before, push humanity to the brink. With funding dried up and only four Jaegers remaining, it's up to burned-out Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), his mysterious co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), their commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, and where are they getting these names?), and a couple of unorthodox scientists (including Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) to save our weary bacon.

See It/Rent It/Skip It: See it. You may have eye twitches for a couple days and some ringing in your ears, but it deserves a big screen experience.

"Critical" Analysis: Let's not mince words: Pacific Rim may look like a summer blockbuster, walk like a summer blockbuster, and destroy alarmingly expansive swaths of commercial real estate like a summer blocbuster, but its target audience might well be limited to those whose memories of Godzilla remain untainted by that Matthew Broderick misfire, nine-year olds, or nine-year olds trapped in adult bodies. Which actually sounds kind of repulsive.

As someone who regularly conducted pitched battles between his Gaiking and Godzilla Shogun Warriors in the backyard, I have no problem with this. I did everything but squee like Ned Flanders when "Gipsy Danger," the Jaeger piloted by Raleigh and his brother, waded into battle for the first time.

I really can't say enough about the effects. After watching Pacific Rim, a friend and I talked about how far we've come since the days of Clash of the Titans. Even slipping into the lazy habit of filming the battles almost exclusively at night -- and in the rain -- director Guillermo Del Toro has created creatures, and a world, that are eminently believable.

Though to be sure, while the story may be Travis Beacham and Del Toro's, they're mindful of whose shoulders they're standing on. There are shout outs to Star Wars (Raleigh's brother tells him, "Don't get cocky," and I swear I saw scout troopers at one point), while the Hong Kong of 2020 is twin to Ridley Scott's dystopian Los Angeles in Blade Runner. And other geek tidbits, from using the voice of GLaDOS from the Portal games to enlisting Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi, should be noted as well.

And, of course, Ron Perlman.

Are the battles the best part? Of course. The story hastens us through the first kaiju invasions, Raleigh's literal fall from grace, and the final Plan to Save Mankind, giving us some eight years of story condensed into the film's 75-80 non-ass whomping running time. And while I've never been totally taken with Hunnam -- and a little Charlie Day goes a long way -- Elba commands a screen like few can, and Kikuchi almost manages to turn Mako into something other than a geek fantasy girl (her flashback scenes are pretty harrowing, but then, that's another actor).

Also, Ron Perlman.

Watching the Jaegers battle these quasi-Lovecraftian horros, you can't help but wonder what might have been (and might still be) had Del Toro gotten the chance to film his adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness. From Hellboy on, the director has shown his affection for the eldritch horrors that lurk in the shadowy realms of the cosmos, and the kaiju of Pacific Rim are merely his latest incarnation. As for those who wondered how Del Toro would handle a big budget tentpole ($180 million), Pacific Rim is his emphatic response, a 30-story middle finger to Universal Studios for pulling the plug on AtMoM.

It might have been nice if he'd maintained the apocalyptic tone set at the beginning of the film. The introduction of Day (and his uptight counterpart played by Burn Gorman) puts the kibosh on that, and the final resolution was a bit too Independence Day for my taste. No, I'm not complaining about realism in a movie featuring giant mecha squaring off with Godzilla's big budget cousins. Yes, I'm going to question whether radio communications would function across two different dimensions.

But it's a hell of a lot of fun, regardless. I'm not one to argue that all entertainment should be escapist, but some should, and Pacific Rim definitely is. See it on as large a screen as possible with as large a tub of popcorn as you can obtain.

Pacific Rim is in theaters today. For those two-and-a-half hours, I wish Sensurround still existed.

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