This represents the distilled wisdom of my chat with James Van de Waal and Timothy Costigan on the Pacific rim. The first thing to note about Pacific Rim is that it sounds very close to a dirty movie title. In a sense it is because it knows to immediately get to the metaphorical fucking of robot fighting. Unlike World War Z which has a stupid conversation about pancakes before getting to the zombie hordes.
Basically this universe is inhabited by giant robots called Jaegers and monsters called Kaiju. The Jaegers have a brain with two hemispheres. Each of which requires its own pilot and they are connected to each others brains through ‘the Drift’ which is really actually symbolic sex at times with Main Hero and Japanese girl sidekick. This might be why a ‘neural load’ is referred to and why at the end of the film hero and sexy Japanese only have to put their heads together because they have already had symbolic robot mind meld sex.
This film comes from Guillermo del toro the director of Pan’s Labyrinth so one might expect a farmer to be beaten to death by a fascist with a bottle like in the film. That does not happen. What does happen is several of our faveourite characters are transplanted from TV shows into this film.
First of all the deeply troubled detective John Luther appears in this film as the boss of everything.
There is a very funny hard cock/ soft cock thing that goes on with Luther’s character in this film. In one of the very earliest scenes they have Jaeger pilots disobey his orders and also all throughout the film the pilots disobey his orders. This I suppose is the problem inherent in having a team of mavericks.
Also at two or three points in the film they have Luther go into full hard cock mode where he tells our hero protagonist never to touch him again and that he could drop him right back where he found him. He shouts at people and massively asserts his authority only to completely change his mind in the next scene when there is an attack or the kaiju or shark rhinoceroses. In an early training scene Luther has his sexy Japanese basically adopted daughter judging our hero fighting with a stick.
The hero suggests that sexy Japanese fight him with the stick. Luther doesn’t want his adopted daughter to fight because he thinks that she is overly emotional and that on the whole it is not a good idea. Our hero immediately attacks Luther’s sense of masculinity and then Luther caves. He says something like you’re not scared and Luther immediately falls to this. This actually makes him seem very weak if he cannot have the confidence of his decision when even slightly challenged in a non-rational way.
Just to make Luther more engaging they make him the only other person except our hero to have piloted a robot without another pilot. Also they have his character dying of cancer which he is able to hold at bay with mystery tiny yellow pills. The story is such if Luther pilots a robot again he will die. That is the big point at the end of the film but it doesn’t seem to be a factor since he has to detonate a nuclear device and kill himself anyway.
I also enjoy the music of this film. When our hero’s brother is killed at the start of the film he goes to build the wall and they have sad music for a scene of unnecessary welding of already finished girders. It reminds me of the sad ‘Fuck Yeah’ theme in Team America.
Another character who is transplanted in from a TV show is Charlie Day from It’s always sunny in Philadelphia. His excitement and exasperation make it very difficult not to be transported to the universe of It’s always sunny. His conversations with Hannibal Chow the Kaiju body parts dealer make up much of the comic relief of the film. There is of course the great introductory joke where Ron Perlman’s character says he chose the name Hannibal Chow on the basis of his faveourite historical figure combined with his second faveourite Chinese restaurant. Ron’s character is supposed to be some sort of big bad authoritative figure but this is quickly traded in with humour. He needs a dozen guns from his henchman to make him seem scary again and is ultimately depicted as a coward for running away from a baby Kaiju and then acting like he knew it wouldn’t be dangerous when it appeared to have died.
It is also humorous that they have different country robots. There’s a Russian robot that is massive, industrial and inflexible. There is a smaller, agile one piloted by three Chinese triplets and one piloted by an Australian father and son crew. I think that there is a snatch of Russian style music in the score to let us know that we are looking at the Russian robot but I expected this to carry on for all of the robots. I expected the Chinese Robot to have ridiculously hammed up Chinese music and perhaps a Fosters can on the side of the Australian robot.
Actually the Australian father and Son team are interesting too. Mainly the son who is a complete dick head but who is made sympathethic by petting his dog at the end of the film and by going on a suicide mission. He also is at the receiving end of one of Luther’s hard cock moments where he says that he is an egocentric asshole and will be nothing to deal with in the drift (Basically the film’s equivalent of saying that his penis is small) but that he is still his father’s son. The drift reminds one very much of the Crunch from the mighty Boosh.
Finally the main theme needs to be discussed. Like in the film the Untouchables the main theme is marshalled in to distract the viewer and explain unexplainable technical and plot issues with the main score. In The Untouchables one might ask is it right that Kevin Costner is going about getting Capone and in this way but the music quickly dispels any doubt from our mind.
Similarly in Pacific rim one forgets about needless welding and the fact that so few Chinooks when the music comes in. One might be wondering why the Kaiju did not immediately disable the power systems of the jaegers but instead waited till the later part of a battle – then the music.