OK, so yeah, I know that Pacific Rim is not a horror film in the classic sense but because it features kaiju heavily it is distinctly horror-adjacent. So I'm covering it. A lot. Because it's super amazeballs awesome.
Our story begins with a retrospective on the history of the Kaiju on Earth. They come from a vent in the ocean floor that has somehow become an opening into another dimension. This other dimension leaks monsters and not just the kind that will terrorize a block or two like a vampire or werewolf. We're talking beings that are a couple of miles long. Things with built in weaponry whether it be blades, horns, acidic spit or tentacles, these things know how to kick puny human ass. Bullies. All of them. Gigantic, Lovecraftian bullies.
Enter our heroes. The pilots of the Jaegers, gigantic mecha that give us a fighting chance against the Kaiju. The come in pairs of two because it's almost impossible for just one person to control the immense robot alone. I'm thinking that someone had a lot of anise-flavored, cough syrup-like booze while writing the script to come up with that name but that's probably because I tend to imagine screenwriters as hooch-soaked starving artists. I know this isn't true but it's nice to dream.
They HAD to go all The Right Stuff, didn't they?
Raleigh Becket and his brother, Yancy, pilots of Gipsy Danger and eminently "drift-compatible" (meaning that their minds can blend seamlessly so that they can act as a single unit because part of the machinery combines their brainwaves) are assigned a category 3 kaiju near Alaska and go off to give it a good old-fashioned beatdown. In the process, because they don't like to waste life if they can help it, they rescue a fishing boat as well as the coastal city that's being threatened. Unfortunately, Raleigh loses his brother and almost loses his own life in the process. He does lose some functionality of his own left arm, though. Not enough to be physically handicapped but enough to make sure that he never pilots the left side of a Jaeger ever again. Plus he got some awesomely circuit-like burn scars. Chicks dig scars. Keep in mind though that because they were "in the drift" as they call it, Raleigh FELT Yancy die.
One can imagine that one would be depressed after this so Raleigh goes off to become a forgotten construction worker on the giant walls that coastal cities are building to fend off the Kaiju. The Jaeger program is being shut down, y'see and people are just CERTAIN that these walls will withstand the attacks of the epically huge extra-dimensional forces. Of course, Stacker Pentacost, the commander of the Jaeger forces, is not pleased and arranges to have his own Jaeger forces on standby. He enlists Raleigh via the old "Do you want to die forgotten and alone in a construction accident or do you want to be a hero" gambit.
He chooses the Roy Scheider option.
He gets introduced to Mako Mori, a rookie pilot that scored perfectly in her simulations but has not, yet, actually been in a Jaeger, and a couple of scientists, Newton Geiszler and Hermann Gottleib, who are studying the Kaiju and the Rift respectively in the hopes of learning how to more effectively stop them and close the Rift respectively. He also gets introduced to the pilots of the other Jaegers, the bigshots being Herc and Chuck Hansen, pilots of Striker Eureka. Chuck is kind of a douche despite being played by the eminently hot Robert Kazinsky.
Don't mind me. I'm just chillin'. Tryin' to mind-meld with a monster, that's all.
After a series of tests to determine who is best suited to partner with Raleigh, he is insistent on Mako. Pentecost refuses initially because it basically turn out that she's his adopted daughter and he's going all Papa Bear with a porn stache. Eventually, he relents because he knows she's good at what she does. The initial test, though, almost ends in disaster because she gets caught up in her memory of the attack that introduced her to Pentecost. She gets over it when a couple of category 4s attack and incapacitate the other 3 Jaegers available.
Daddy, you never let me do anything cool...
Newton, in the meantime, having drifted with part of a Kaiju brain (destroying it in the process) is trying to get his hands on another and has to get help from Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman in pretty gold-plated shoes). They initially don't get along and Chau sends him into a trap because the drift experiment left Day's mental image in every Kaiju's mind. Oh, did I forget to mention that the Kaiju have a hive mind because they're all clones? Because they do.
Oh, shit! Some of them FLY!
They do eventually find him but Gipsy Danger saves the day and Newton and Hermann, who basically hate each other, drift into the alien brain together and figure out that the plan to blow a nuke over the rift won't work because the rift won't let anything that doesn't have Kaiju DNA through it. In a most awesome undersea battle where Pentecost takes the place of Herc due to an injury in the previous battle, Gipsy Danger and her crew are brought into the rift... and I probably shouldn't say any more.
I mean it's kind of formula and you can figure out the end but I've said too much already.
Now, I'm sure most of you grew up watching the Godzilla movies and you know that there are good and bad Kaiju but this isn't those movies. In this movie we deal with the monsters as monsters and I'm totally grateful for that. The LAST thing we needed was a little kid stepping out with a kaiju pet/buddy fighting for the good side. I mean, that has it's place and all but I went to this glorious piece of brainless fluff to watch giant robots fight giant monsters and I got my wish. I didn't see it in 3D because my husband gets headaches but I'm OK with that.
But this would have been SO COOL in IMAX.
On the other hand, I got a little bit of meaning, too. It wasn't ALL brainless. The two pilots of each mecha HAVE to be able to join their minds and get past any differences they have. It's a tiny microcosm representative of the outside world. If we're going to survive, we have to get past our differences and get along. We're all human and we each live our own truth. Getting past it means accepting another's truth and being OK with that.
And Del Toro is quoted as saying, "I avoided making any kind of message that says war is good. We have enough firepower in the world." As an avowed pacifist myself, I have to give the man props for that.
But really, it's all about the giant monsters. Because the 8-year-old in me went SQUEEEEEE!! Nobody really cares about the plot, do they? I didn't and you KNOW that normally I'm a stickler for that shit. Frankly, the script for Pacific Rim could be screenwriter feces on scraps of construction paper as long as I have colossal robots fighting immense monsters.
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