Has been talked up to be the biggest, stupidest and funnest film of the last decade, with a passport guaranteeing transportation to that distant kingdom known as Youretwelveagain. Giant monsters (Kaiju) appear and start tearing up coastal settlements like a pack of British lager louts on a package tour. There is only one solution to this problem: build big robots with even bigger knuckles.* LET THE THUMPING BEGIN.
There’s so much about this film that I love, mostly in the ‘wow’ factor . There are definitely goose bumps during the suit, boot and shoot phase of getting the pilots into their robots. Loads of clanking gears, superfluous cogs and shink-shink-shink of metal links locking together. No one can fail to enjoy these. The robots themselves are an earth shaking delight – swaggering steel avatars of barely restrained violence. The fact that each Pacific Rim nation has its own unique robot + pilot team is utterly gratifying, like some genius decided to cross Starlight Express with WWE. Particular kudos must go to the Russian team who look like Zangief and his date during their teenage glam rock years and who devolved me into helpless fits of giggles whenever they strode on screen.
And yet despite all this it doesn’t go far enough. If there was one film that had carte blanche to go absolutely hog wild this year then it was this one, yet there’s a definite sense of wasted potential. Most of which I blame on the subplots.
There are definitely boring moments in this film and they typically crop up whenever someone isn’t sitting in a giant robot head thrashing 18 types of hell out of a giant swamp beast with a nun-chuck made of railway tracks.
Why do we have character development in this film? It’s not very interesting, they don’t have time to really develop it, the clichés are thicker than Gypsy Danger’s thighs and nobody cares too much about its delivery. It’s just totally dumb and not in a fun way that football pitch sized piledrivers are. Precious minutes are wasted with pointless nattering when there could be crumpling happening.
Now Ron Pearlman’s scenes are wonderful. Ron Pearlman is wonderful. He has special shoes. Shoes so special I can’t even talk about them. Go see his special shoes for yourself. But I would cut his entire screen presence in heartbeat if it meant I could see a robot try and ram a train car down a giant alligator’s throat. Or maybe just give him a robot to drive…. just imagine…
Worst of all though is the pool of effluent that makes up the whacky scientist subplot. This is utterly pointless, introducing two stereotypical spongewits, presumably for comic relief purposes, whose only successfully contribution to the film is to suck up valuable air time.
Subplot problems in a nutshell:
Does not enhance story.
Takes focus away from robo bashing.
TAKES FOCUS AWAY FROM ROBO BASHING.
Exorcising all this needless sidewank would have given us at least 15-30 minutes more time with the Russian and Chinese robots, which were wonderful. I can’t remember their names, so instead I’m going to refer to them as Windymiller and Knuklebunker.
Knucklebunker is quite frankly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on film or off. If it were real and the law allowed, I would marry Knucklebunker without a second thought. Everything about it is just utterly fantastic, from its clunky hammer-like fists to its brutalist bucket head.
Don’t fight underwater. Seriously. Have you ever fought underwater? Bipeds don’t do it very well. It’s one of the reasons why sharks are totally bollocks. There’s just not much you can do with a load of salty water with a bit of sand at the bottom. Cities, on the other hand, are delightful playgrounds full of interesting improvised weapons and smashable scenery. Every minute we spend with two behemoths wrestling in an urban environment is utterly delightful and we really could have done with more.
More is the watchword I found myself repeating during this movie. Probably in an attempt to fill the gaping void that is my innerself. Why even have an ending? An ending is crap, it means the robots have to stop fighting. More fighting, more violence, greater violence. Robot tagteams. Clotheslines, leaping knees, elbow drops. More surprise weapons. CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER. MASS HYSTERIA.
Perhaps I ask too much. Go see the film and either be sated or left wanting. It doesn’t matter which, only that you comply. If we give them money now they might make a dumber one next time. Where the only dialogue is nothing but attack screams and the noise of gears sinking into jaws.
I hope they make a Top Trumps set based on this universe.
❤ KNUCKLEBUNKER ❤
*Unconfirmed reports that several Mediterranean resorts have started a government study on the feasibility of this for the tourist season.
POST REVIEW SPOILERS
The early deaths of Knucklebunker and Windymiller are utter bullshit. Especially as they essentially accomplish nothing. Wasted. Just wasted. For chirstsake, Windymiller had three pilots who all simultaneously activated a move they called Thunder Cloud Formation. THUNDER CLOUD FORMATION. Nobody gets killed off instantly after activating Thunder Cloud Formation unless they’re taking on the last boss.