The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

How I fell in love with Pacific Rim without having a good excuse

with 13 comments

pacific rim

I could have sworn that the theatre floor trembled as the giant robots came marching into the sea.

I’m the inhibited kind of theatre audience, so I closed my lips firmly not to let out any noise. But inside I was cheering with delight: “Yes! Go for it! Punch him on his nose! Hard! I want that monster DEAD!”

Most people in my age who end up loving Pacific Rim put the blame on nostalgia. As an adult you’re not supposed to enjoy seeing oversized robots and extra-terrestrial sea monsters engaged in big and loud fights. But if you grew up with kaiju movies you’re excused. It’s just the elven year old you that is speaking.

I however didn’t have any excuse. The term “kaiju” wasn’t anything I had heard of before encountering Pacific Rim. I had never seen Godzilla on a screen, just heard the name. And – believe it or not – I had never seen a Transformers movie. And yet I loved it.

Lack of ideas that works
Smash! Crash! Bam! Sometimes that’s all you want from a movie. Sometimes you expect more of it, and I can’t pinpoint what makes the difference. I watched Pacific Rim and Elysium with only a couple of weeks apart. Elysium I bashed for the lack of sophisticated ideas, for being too simple, for painting the world in black and white, for making the bad people ridiculously bad, without any nuance or purpose – evil for the sake of being evil. In Pacific Rim the attacking monsters don’t even communicate. They just kill and destroy. But in this case I didn’t mind. They came from a different dimension, they wanted us dead, and hence they needed to die. So you’d better put your fears aside, grab a ship and start beating the crap out of them.

As ridiculous as it sounds, the film worked for me, so well that I could overlook that the drivers of the giant robots looked absolutely silly plugged into the machines. I could swear that they got the inspiration from those exercise machines at the gym where you’re jogging in slow-motion on footsteps while pulling levers with your hands. (I’ll never be able to see one of those again without imagining that they’re controlling a jaeger.)

The Giant Robot Robbers
Before I finish this post I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely truthful when I said that I was unaffected by nostalgia or associations to previous encounters with giant robots in pop culture. I’ve actually seen giant robots steered by people sitting in their heads before, and the memory of it popped into my mind as I watched Pacific Rim.

I’m not sure if Guillermo del Toro has taken any inspiration for those particular robots. Actually he might not even have encountered them. They come from a different geek realm than where the kaiju live. What I’m referring to is a comic by Carl Barks from 1965, The Giant Robot Robbers, where the Beagle Boys steal giant robots, not much unlike the jaegers, robots that were built with good intentions, but which they now use to break into the money bin of Uncle Scrooge.

This comic raises a question that could add a different storyline to Pacific Rim: wouldn’t it be tempting for evil people to use the robot suits for their own purposes? If mankind would defeat the sea monsters from the other dimension, how long would it be before they started to turn against each other in giant robot-vs-robots fights?

Maybe we’ll find out in the sequel.

Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, US 2013) My rating: 4/5

giant robot robbers

Written by Jessica

September 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Pacific Rim

13 Responses

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  1. Same rating for me. You stated it so well. It’s so much fun despite its lack of any really new ideas. It’s hard to really put my finger on what works so well. I just know I had a ton of fun with it. Can’t wait to see it again.


    September 6, 2013 at 1:41 am

    • We agree pretty often, don’t we? I can’t quite put my finger on it either, but i think the quality is solid all way through. It doesn’t have cringeworthy cheap jokes and such and very litle of sexism, racism etc. Which is a relief.


      September 8, 2013 at 12:21 am

  2. While being a bit more familiar with kaiju and Transformers, Pacific Rim had exactly the same effect on me. I also had the same reflection considering Elysium: del Toro takes something simple and make it fun. Bloomkamp takes something complicated and make it…not as much fun.

    Glad it worked for you and thanks for making me conjure slightly cooler images of myself while striding the crosstrainer 😉


    September 6, 2013 at 6:30 am

    • I can definitely imagine you running one of those robots!


      September 8, 2013 at 12:23 am

  3. Such great fun, this one. I’m like you, I found myself almost cheering at some points! Despite it being very flashy, it’s still really simple storytelling and that’s what works. It’s simple to follow and exciting and from a summer blockbuster I could have asked for more.

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    September 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

    • It’s simple storytelling but somehow it doesn’t feel completely cheap, cheesy and full of cliches, which blockbusters risk to become. I don’t know how he makes it, but it worked for me, and I’m rather picky about this type of movie


      September 8, 2013 at 12:25 am

  4. Reblogged this on InSession Film.


    September 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  5. I really enjoyed this film as I think it’s what a blockbuster should be. It’s got some smarts but also enough fun for everyone to enjoy. I had a fun time watching this film as I knew Guillermo del Toro was going to deliver. He is the filmmaker that all of the average blockbuster filmmakers want to be. They just don’t have his heart.


    September 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    • And not his sense and care for the visuals either. It’s got a lot of classic blockbuster elements, but it does it so well. And while I wish he female jaeger driver had been even tougher, in no need to be “saved” by a man, I think it’s okish from a gender pov and a great deal better than what you usually see in blockbusters.


      September 8, 2013 at 12:20 am

  6. Big robots? Sounds like fun. And surely, it can’t be worse than the Transformers movies.


    September 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    • It’s super fun. And what a coincidence you’re popping up here commenting on a lot of stuff; I’m just writing a review about Belgian movie I just watched. You might have seen it I guess…


      September 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      • If it’s the Broken Circle Breakdown, I’m gonna watch it this week 😉


        September 10, 2013 at 2:18 am

  7. […] Pacific Rim I didn’t have a good excuse. But I fell in love with it nevertheless. […]

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