We saw Pacific Rim because we were at a resort and that was the film shown. The night before was Grown Ups 2; it had a great cast; but also Adam Sandler. We left after 20 minutes. But Pacific Rim was sufficiently entertaining that we watched the whole thing.
Set in the near future, the film’s essence is conveyed in my heading: REALLY BIG monsters. And I do mean BIG. They’re called “Kaiju,” a Japanese word for “monster,” especially of the Godzilla type, and Pacific Rim’s Kaiju are supersized Godzillas on steroids. In researching this blog post (what, you think I just pop them off? They’re intensively researched) I came across this Wikipedia gem: “Kaiju are typically modeled after conventional animals, insects or mythological creatures; however, there are more exotic examples . . . monsters based on traffic lights, faucets and tomatoes [or] based on household objects such as umbrellas and utility ladders.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see a film with umbrella monsters, or utility ladder monsters. Now that’s scary.
But Pacific Rim’s Kaiju are more orthodox beasts; though at least each differs from its confreres. Now, for combating this menace, humanity’s powers-that-be must have seen enough films in this genre to believe that conventional weapons would not work; that bullets and bombs would scarcely tickle them (but see below). I myself might have sought for a biological-type approach. But no; instead, Mankind hits upon the brilliant innovative tactic of . . . wait for it . . . punching them.
This is the Jaeger (pronounced “Yager”) program. “Jaeger” is German for “hunter” (more research). Jaegers are humanoid contraptions (I understand “mecha” is the term of art here (yet more research)) as big as the Kaiju themselves, costing $100 billion each to construct, and deployed to engage Kaiju in fistfights. I kid you not.
Jaegers are piloted by humans, but the task is so daunting it takes two, joined in some kind of mind-meld. You might think they’d have elaborate control panels. But no; they control the Jaeger by miming bodily its intended motions, which are transmitted mechanically by gears and pulleys. Super high-tech!
They do utilize rocket engines. How? Why, of course, to add oomph to their punches! And they have some additional weapons. Late in the film, battling a Kaiju high in the sky – as an apparent last resort – the Jaegermeisters deploy . . . wait for it . . . the sword. Yes; it unfolds like a switchblade, and swiftly slices the Kaiju apart. Why didn’t they use this more? Not in the script. Better to just pick up handfuls of shipping containers to bash Kaiju with. Or ships, to use as clubs. Much cooler visuals.
But lest you think the Jaegers were limited to Fifth Century BC war technology, earlier in the film one’s chest opened to reveal a battery of . . . wait for it . . . cannons. And blew away that Kaiju. But if that would work . . . well, it does make one question the film’s basic logic. Never has so much lavish production value been invested in a premise so fundamentally silly.
Speaking of silly investments, when the Jaegers are failing, humanity turns to Plan B . . . wait for it . . . a wall. Perhaps inspired by Israel’s success keeping out Pales-tinian terrorists. However, Kaiju are tougher customers than Palestinians, and it seemed nobody ran studies of how the wall would work before wasting mega-billions on this cyclopean construction project, which inconveniences the rampaging Kaiju only momentarily.
But (spoiler alert) the Jaegers come through in the end and save us.
Curiously, director Guillermo del Toro is some kind of pacifist, and for all the violence in this hyperslugfest, one never sees a human actually harmed by a Kaiju (except for one quasi-villain swallowed, but even he escapes). “I don’t want people being crushed,” del Toro said (more research); he strangely added: “There is no fear of a copycat kaiju attack because a kaiju saw it on the news and said, ‘I’m going to destroy Seattle.’” Huh?
The Brobdingnagian size of the Kaiju made me recall a (very) short story I read long ago, with even bigger monsters, perhaps the biggest ever the mind of man conceived. Thanks to remembering the last line, I was able to find the story online – to read it click here.