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A little cheese and a little whine

Film Log: Pacific Rim

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It might seem odd to criticise a science fiction film on the grounds that it was implausible, but there are just too many things in this film that don’t add up. It begins with a long montage-with-voiceover serving to establish the conceits of the piece, and it doesn’t do a very good job. It’s not clear why the best defence against giant sea monsters is giant robots, as opposed to, say, ground to air missiles, or why those robots need two pilots sitting inside them attached to neural interfaces, as opposed to one pilot with a joystick and a remote control, or why the neural interfaces allow people to share memories which is, quite frankly, a much more interesting technological advance than the ability to fight giant sea monsters. A Mecha-Kaiju movie needs to establish a need for a lot of these elements, but the way Pacific Rim does this is at best perfunctory and at worst a waste of time that could be taken up with actual drama.

The montage, the unconvincing grounds for the conceits, and the problems with the science (confronted with an underwater nuclear explosion, holding on to something really really tight just isn’t going to cut it) all indicate a laziness in the script which makes itself felt throughout the film. There’s a lot of shouting but no real drama; caricature but no comedy; and a stream of clichéd set pieces where the plot should be.

I’d like to say at this point that the film made up for these failings with its aesthetic – this is, after all, a piece which provides no end of opportunity to impress us visually. And indeed, this is a pretty film. But pretty films are no longer difficult to make, and there is nothing here which is innovative either technically or aesthetically. The robots and monsters are competently done, the cityscapes are recognisable and the scenes of destruction and devastation are realistic, but there is nothing to make us sit up and take notice.

Again, this leaves us with a sense that the film isn’t trying hard enough. Similarly with the casting: There are no big names here, apart from Ron Perleman, whose presence merely points up the relative weakness of the cast as a whole. Hunnam, Elba and the rest give perfectly good performances but very much at the standard of a better episode of Dr Who than a feature film.

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Filed under: Film + TV

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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