94. Pacific Rim

PacificRim1I’ve heard more than once that the thing Pacific Rim most recalls is Jurassic Park. So if you didn’t really like the sequels, check this one out. It’s an American daikaiju movie from fantasy/horror master Guillermo del Toro, so indeed, nobody really saw this coming. But one thing always seemed sure: it would be pretty good.

I was slightly worried, in the leadup to the big IMAX release in the summer of last year, that it might not live up to the expectation set by knowing the genre and the director, and maybe seeing flashes of TV spots now and again. In retrospect, the obviousness of its quality is so apparent that it would seem to spill over into precognition, so deep down, I wasn’t that worried.

But that might just be because I was in need of inspiration again. Television is always doing its best to steal my attention so wholly from movies, which just can’t measure up in character and story. The film American Hustle came shockingly close to winning Best Picture last year, and that movie, entertaining but ultimately a generic imitation of Ocean’s Eleven (not great starting material), isn’t built of the same stuff that makes shows like The Americans or True Detective or possibly Fargo so affecting or compelling.

In such a runtime, you have to pick the right story, or execute in a way that it couldn’t have been done better in another medium, because TV is so similar, just longer.

You have to, for example, do something TV is still years off from, and it isn’t quantitative, though it might seem so. That is, titanic spectacle. You can’t throw $150 million at the small screen, but that isn’t what makes Pacific Rim so unique, because that’s what Transformers does. Pacific Rim is driven by a strong artistic center — in the design of the CGI constructs as well as the costumes, sets, and casting. It’s big and larger-than-life in all regards, but isn’t without style like a lot of American science-fiction film tends to be.

It’s not often we see the birth of icons in Hollywood, and I don’t mean of the Audrey Hepburn variety or something, but iconic images of science-fiction, whether that be Deckard hanging on the roof or the Tatooine bar. Although this film is one in a legacy, it outlines its own visual metric with Idris Elba in a pilot suit for example, and tries an earnest hand at mythmaking.

To create those moments, the director has to be attuned to details. For such a massive film, Pacific Rim lives in the micro, with its breathing world and sweeping story that will doubtlessly inspire the next generation, just like Jurassic Park and King Kong before it. I am eternally grateful I was around to see it on the big screen.

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