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The Movie Scab Reviews: "Pacific Rim."

Updated on July 14, 2013

"The scab you're picking at is called execution."

--American film producer Scott Rudin.

Monkey Boy picks the movies!
Monkey Boy picks the movies!

Pacific Rim: Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!

Monkey Boy gives Pacific Rim 4 Acks! out of 5!

Pacific Rim.

Here’s all Monkey Boy says you need to know: this is the most fun you will have at the movies this summer. Leave your worries at the door, grab a monster-sized bucket of popcorn and a gargantuan soda pop, take a seat, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

Couple of things I want you to know: first, if you think Pacific Rim is like Transformers because it has bigfatgigantic robots in it, you couldn’t be more wrong. Pacific Rim is nothing like Transformers. It comes from a different, and better, universe. And it’s smarter too. I mean, look, let’s compare: Transformers wants you to believe that a semitrailer truck can turn into a bigfatgigantic walking and talking robot because it’s alive and the reason that’s dumber than what Pacific Rim wants you to believe is because the concept that living robots can turn into trucks (or vice versa) is based on a children’s toy that transforms from truck to robot (or vice versa). In other words, Transformers are toys made for very small children with undeveloped brains. That’s why the transforming trucks and cars are alive. Only very small children with undeveloped brains would believe that.

From the perspective of an adult, that's freakin' dumb!

The robots in Pacific Rim are machines built by Man. They are not alive. They do not talk. And they are controlled by human beings. And the technology is also believable and smart too, like, for example, the concept of “the drift.” (The minds of two human operators connect digitally and then merge so that one person’s brain becomes the left hemisphere and the other person’s brain becomes the right hemisphere of a much bigger digital brain that operates the robot. Now that’s cool, and believable, tech.)

So dump the Transformers comparison and let’s move on. If you are unable to do that, go cry on professional movie reviewer and Rotten Tomato “top critic” Claudia Puig’s (USA TODAY) shoulder and join her as she ridicules fans of alien invasion movies. Then go see a movie with her, something softer, gentler and more Puig friendly, you know, a movie that doesn’t “bludgeon the senses” (as she put it), like that crapfest of tearful, sentimental excess The Notebook. (I bet she has that movie in her personal film library.)

Second, growing up in Canada was great for all sorts of reasons and one of them has to do with the fact that we didn’t watch TV. Now, it’s not that Canadians don’t watch TV or that my family and I didn’t want to watch TV. We had a real-live television in our living room and it sported Rabbit Ear antennae, but because we were so far up in the Canadian North (eh?), television reception was rare—most of the time our TV showed us snowy images that we couldn’t make out and it sounded like white noise.

Then we moved to the States and the world of TV opened to us in a big way: we had 13—count ‘em, 13—channels! One of those channels showed Ray Harryhausen monster movies and Ishiro Honda Godzilla movies over and over and I watched them over and over with a bigfatwonderful smile on my face.

Halfway through Pacific Rim, I realized that I had the same bigfatwonderful smile on my face. I was 12 years old again. Thanks Guillermo del Toro!

Fans of director del Toro know that he can tell a story well and still entertain at the same time, and that’s exactly what he does here. On a technical note, he doesn’t rely on the “shaky camera” and “sudden zoom” effect that’s more common than burnt toast in movies these days, and irritating as hell. None of that in Pacific Rim. That’s a plus. And there are moments of Guillermo genius and humor like this: a colossal robot arm punches through a skyscraper, destroying the interior as it extends and then, just before it pulls back, it gently touches the base of an Executive Ball Clicker (a Newton’s Cradle with several silver balls hanging on wires), generating conservation of momentum and energy so that the last silver ball on the end is pushed upward.

Awesome moment.

Now, Monkey Boy and I also want you to know that Pacific Rim isn’t perfect. Like any big Hollywood summer blockbuster, it has its flaws (like last summer’s The Avengers, for example, which had plenty of flaws and still churned out popcorn-bucket-loads of fun), but Pacific Rim has such a powerful sense of fun, and respect for the material (clearly inspired by Harryhausen and Honda), that Monkey Boy and I didn’t care about its flaws, all of which are minor and hardly worth mentioning anyway.

Pacific Rim is better than last summer’s The Avengers, by the way. Why? Because it’s smarter, more fun and it isn’t based on a series of comic books and comic book characters. It isn’t a reboot, remake or sequel. It is, in fact, one of the rarest of finds in Hollywood these days: an original idea, and that’s not only refreshing, it’s better.

And the story is better too: aliens invade the earth through a wormhole that opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and send in monsters to destroy mankind before they settle the planet and the only way we can fight them is by building bigfatawesome robots that kick ass.

Is it predictable? Yes. Have we seen it before? Sure (Independence Day, among others). Do we know who’s going to die and if we win at the end? You bet. And I didn’t care at all. You won’t either. Because you are having so much fun.

The actors do fine work: Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi (hot, hot, hottie!) as the heroic robot operators are likeable, believable and solid; Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as goofy scientists add to the fun; and an understated but powerful performance by Idris Elba as the Marshal keeps it real; and del Toro regular Ron Perlman (Hellboy) shows up for laughs. The original music by Ramin Djawadi is thrilling, the special effects (Industrial Light and Magic) are top notch.

So unless you want to go and see The Notebook with condescending "top critic" Puig, come with Monkey Boy and I to see Pacific Rim and then, afterwards, we'll join you at the bar to raise our glasses and toast Guillermo del Toro, screenwriters Travis Beachum and del Toro, bigfatwonderful robots that kick ass and monster makers Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda.

My rating: down a Robot (a shot of vodka, Jack Daniels and two drops of grenadine), just to power you up and that’s it. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Smile, smile, smile.


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