Saturday, 3 August 2013

Pacific Rim - Newt and Han: Super Drift [Spoiler level: Low, but cautious)

I know a lot of my audience probably already have seen Pacific Rim (you lucky bastards), but it just premiered in Norway yesterday so here are my thoughts.

Pacific Rim was one of those films that debuted in the USA long before any other part of the world, personally I had to endure three weeks of tweets telling me how awesome the film was, and how important it was. Because of this, I actually started to have low expectations, having been hyped up for so long it's pretty hard expect those hypes to be met, but boy, was I wrong.

First of all, Pacific Rim, yes, it was hyped out beyond compare, at least for me. Few of the tweets I've seen have reflected the same enthusiasm I had for the film, and that's kind of sad. It's sad that when a huge film market gets a film before the rest of the world and all the rest of the world hears is how amazing it was. We live in the information age, it's all but impossible to not hear news about this kind of tentpole if you're in the scene, or at least vaguely paying attention to it. On the positive side, however, it might have brought a bigger international market to the film. All those film buffs in the US who watched the film spread the word to film buffs in other countries, and they spread the word to their friends. We knew people had watched it and liked it, not like in the US were people was just hoping it would be good. It's amazing how much better and more convincing a "I heard this guy really liked it" is than a "from what I've heard of what's leaked it could be pretty good". All I know is that all the theatres at my local cinema that screened Pacific Rim were full. I've attended my share of screenings at that cinema, and I did not at all expect that kind of a turn out for this type of film on a Friday night with thirty degrees in the air (that's a lot where I'm from, I mean, a lot).

For the first few minutes of the film, I have to admit, I wasn't very impressed. It seemed to be just another run-of-the-mill, cliché action film. All of the praise I had heard, I just couldn't see where it came from. But the more the film went on, the more I got it. I think maybe what made it so ordinary in the beginning is that they begin with an origin story, and I am really starting to get sick of origin stories. Personally I think this film would've been better off with just bypassing that entirely and feed the needed information to the public gradually when they need it. The main character, Raleigh, starts off the film with his brother. They fight a kaiju (the monsters) and the brother winds up dead. This is what's going to work as Raleigh's trouble and misunderstandings for the rest of the film, and it really didn't have to be shown. In fact, I think it would've worked better if we didn't know about it at all. Make Raleigh a bit more mysterious and interesting, because as he is right now he's one of the most forgettable and unlovable main-characters I've ever seen in a film.

Throughout the film Raleigh proves again and again that he's just another action hero, he's not a real character with any significant depth. He spends his time either fighting, loving or saving. To be frank, there were points in the film were I actually forgot he existed. And that brings me to another point. In the set-up of the film, the period that's supposed to tell you what to expect from the rest of the story and how the film works, is more or less completely centred around Raleigh. Making it seem like the film is supposed to centre around him, he's the main character and we're supposed to root for him. However, fairly quickly after the set-up we start to drift away from him. We start exploring other characters and actions unrelated to Raleigh's. This isn't in itself a bad thing, but because they've set it up for me to expect to follow Raleigh every step of the way it's kind of confusing. It makes Raleigh even less of a likable protagonist, because honestly, most of the other characters we explore are tenfolds more interesting and lovable than he himself is. 

And that brings me to the parts that I really loved about the film. The monster fighting is great and all, but what's really interesting (to me at least) was the way society outside of the jaegar program worked. Newton and Hannibal are perhaps the two most well done characters of their class I've ever seen. Every second of them on-screen were pure bliss to me, and I can already imagine a potential sequel revolving around either or both of them (Hannibal in particular). Newton seems at first to be a really standard, geeky scientist, the must-have of any sci-fi blockbuster these days. But the way he evolves throughout the film is just amazing, all the things he is willing to do - not just because he wants to save the world, but because he just loves doing them - is inspiring. He seems much more real than most of the other characters. The jaegar guys are too shallow, they are all about defending the Earth at what ever cost, and we know little to nothing about any of them. And what we do know, just reinforces how badass and military they are. They don't feel like real people to me, and that's a shame. Hannibal is an example of how they should have done badass and military. Even though he is a bad guy he is more likable and relateable than any of the robot jocks. He dares to show his real self, he isn't just about selling black market items, he cares for himself and have real-world worries. 

I think it speaks mountains when I can tell you, right now, that even though I can barely remember a single main-character, the two characters of Newton and Hannibal - on their own - make me love this film. If I could have talked to Travis or Guillermo before they made this I would tell them this: "Please, let Newton and Hannibal be the main focus. You can have the jockeys there still, but make them less important, let them be the tools of Newton and Hannibal, not the other way around." But I fear, if they did that, the film would have been too awesome for anyone to have ever survived a screening. 

So yeah, after all of that bashing on shallow characters, and that the monster fighting wasn't really my main love - it was just filled with weird choices (seriously, if the swords were that effective, why the hell didn't they use them all the time before?) - I sit here and I dare to tell you to go watch this film. It is amazing. I don't think it's stretching it too far to say that this is this generation's Jurassic Park. It is without a doubt the most fun I've had at a cinema this entire year, and I can't wait to go watch it again.