'Pacific Rim' has 'amazing 3D effects,' but little else to dazzle

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(digitalBURG) — “Go big or go extinct” is the tagline for “Pacific Rim,” and it certainly goes big with its star-studded cast. You’re sure to recognize most of the faces here, such as that guy who played Heimdall in “Thor,” or that lady with…the…face?
OK, other than an incredibly out of place Charlie Day, you aren’t going to recognize anyone in the lineup of “Pacific Rim,” but that can be a good thing. It’s off-putting to see a film and only afterward realize that Brad Pitt and a Pepsi product placement are the only two things casting cared about. Yes, we’re still mad at you, “World War Z.”
The giant-robots-controlled-by-pilots plot belongs to an action subgenre called “mecha” that has never really gained the massive popularity in Western culture that it’s maintained for decades in the east. Specifically, Japan has poured out dozens of mecha series.
A couple notables that have made it to the American mainstream would be “Voltron,” the “Gundam” series, and everyone’s Saturday morning least-favorite, the “Power Rangers.” If you aren’t sensing the trend here, mecha series tend to be geared toward a fairly young crowd.
With that in mind, I’d like to make a side note to the “Evangelion” fans out there: Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. Hollywood has robbed your childhood again and I just paid them for doing that. Though they will not offer you an apology, I sincerely do.
Travis Beacham being listed as the writer probably won’t ring any bells either. He helped pen the screenplay for “Clash of the Titans,” but the mediocre reviews it received make it fairly safe to say that despite his ten-or-so years in the industry, Beacham still falls into the up-and-comer category. If you’re feeling polite. “Pacific Rim” plays out with the same feel as “Clash.” Nothing unpredictable happens, the dialogue is bland and the characters are all totally static.
I’m generally hesitant to blame the actors for something that can be blamed on the writer. While the actors were somewhat lackluster, Beacham approached “Pacific Rim” in a totally “what you see is what you get” fashion.
At one point, the emotionless, fearless military leader even takes time to describe himself as emotionless and fearless just in case you hadn’t noticed in the previous hour and a half of this too-long movie. Every single character is exactly the person you think he or she is the second they open their mouths.
It’s not really fair to blame the actors if they can’t liven up a textual corpse, but it’s the same kind of disappointment you feel when you hear that someone stood by watching an old woman get mugged and didn’t try to help her.

“Pacific Rim” is exactly what
the trailer leads us to believe
it is. It’s a mindless film about
giant robots punching alien

The directing of Guillermo del Toro is probably the biggest (or only) ace “Pacific Rim” had in its robotic hands. It might be hard not to feel like del Toro fell off the radar after “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but he really has been busy. If you consider making “Kung Fu Panda” numbers two and three a legitimate occupation, anyway. Del Toro is almost certainly responsible for what little humanity is injected into the film, but it’s not enough to make it terribly interesting or remotely intelligent.
While it’s disappointing to see del Toro captain a movie that doesn’t provoke a single unexpected thought or emotion, it’s not surprising to find a summer Western mecha lacking in this regard.
For longstanding Eastern mecha fans, this will be a tragic departure from the genre’s solid history of making intriguing and often provocative observations about human nature and the circus of politics.
The bottom line is that “Pacific Rim” is exactly what the trailer leads us to believe it is. It’s a mindless film about giant robots punching alien dinosaurs. If you want to see that and practically nothing else for two hours straight, “Pacific Rim” is going to feel like del Toro peered into your heart and gift-wrapped this gem just for you.
For everyone else, this movie is going to be as exciting as watching a kindergartener smash together “Voltron” and “Godzilla” action figures while he makes explosion noises, and it probably won’t even be worth catching for free once it hits cable.
While the 3D effects were absolutely amazing, there wasn’t much else to dazzle the viewer. “Pacific Rim” is probably best-viewed with a child in tow or as a mentally vacant guys/gals night out show. It has little to offer for anyone looking to use some brain cells and the childish almost-romance won’t win you any bonus points on date night.
On the plus side, Vince Vaughn wasn’t in it, so I give it 6.6/10.