Pacific Rim… Just… No.

rimI wanted to like it so much. I would’ve bent myself into a pretzel coming up with rationalizations for why it was really better than you think.

If only it was.

But Guillermo Del Toro’s newest effort, the nerd wet dream of giant robots vs. monsters, Pacific Rim, was just a disgrace.

I recognize the inherent awesomeness of the dialectic: Man vs. God, North vs. South, Freddy vs. Jason, and now finally, Monsters vs. Robots. In Japan, Kaiju (which actually means giant monster) has a long and proud tradition starting with Godzilla and ending with… MechaGodzilla. But Pacific Rim is what we’ve been waiting for since technology finally caught up with our imaginations in 1999 (with the release of The Matrix).

Del Toro directed his way into nerd royalty with films such as Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), Blade II (2002) and the Hellboy movies—all films I love. This one won’t enter that pantheon.

The story is cobbled from the half-dead tropes and clichés from Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich movies. This is fitting, one might think, as those two directed Transformers (2007) and Godzilla (1998) respectively. Except those movies were terrible. If you’re going to rip off robot and monster movies, at least rip off good ones.

Rim also steals its ending from two other Bay/Emmerich blockbusters, Armageddon (1998) and Independence Day (1996). And I don’t mean “steals” in a loose sense. It’s literally an exact combination of the ends of those two movies.

The screenplay by Travis Beacham, who, it must be said, has clearly never heard people talk to each other, is nothing short of embarrassing. I haven’t laughed at dialogue so derisively since my father gave me the sex talk when I was 14.

Oh, God, the acting.

Charlie Hunnam, star of TV’s Sons of Anarchy, is the worst offender, but certainly not the only one you’ll want to see in an unemployment line. The only bright spots, Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and the great Ron Perlman (Hellboy) are underused.

Worst of all, the action isn‘t even exciting. Unless underwater robot punching is all you were expecting. Wouldn’t you think a city should get some devastation? And why do characters in the movie have moronic “future names” like Stacker Pentecost, when the movie only takes place 10 years in the future? These are the small details that turn a bad movie into a flagrant criminal act.

The whole thing is shamefully unoriginal. Conscious derivation is fine, but this opportunity, squandered by Del Toro, to make a Kaiju film that is fun, smart, and where the filmmaking technology has caught up to the images in our heads, was too big to miss. Thanks to this boring mess, a studio won’t soon again be spending $180 million to make dreams come true. Instead, we’ll get Smurfs 3.

Skip this atrocity and see one of the great recent Kaiju movies, such as Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

By Ygal Kaufman

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