My trip to New York last week gave me the opportunity to catch up on some movies I had downloaded. On the flight back, I watched Pacific Rim. I missed in theaters, and ever since I have seen many t-shirts and memorabilia featuring Jagers, the giant fighting robots in the film.
The movie starts in the near future, where a giant alien monster–that comes to be called a kaiju–attacks San Francisco. As more of these huge kaiju appear from a dimensional rift in the Pacific, the world collaborates to create huge fighting robots, controlled by the brains of two pilots, to fight off the monsters. The protagonist is the best Jager pilot, who lost his brother and co-pilot in battle with a kaiju. After hiding for years, he recruited back into a dying Jager program, just as the attacks are getting worse. Meanwhile, a scientist in the program tries to understand the kaiju and study them. He finds the way to destroy the portal and save Earth.
As you may expect, the rest of the movie involves giant robots fighting giant aliens as the humans try to close the wormhole between worlds. My favorite scene was not even a fight between giants: it was between two pilots. In a sparring match, the protagonist with a western fighting style fights a Japanese woman with an eastern fighting style. The contrasting fighting techniques were really fun to watch.
The reason I loved the movie, besides the boyish action scenes, was the monster aliens. I’m a huge fan of monster movies and alien movies. Putting two in one was really interesting. Especially when they discuss the anatomy and physiology of the kaiju. The movie centers around details that are not usually discussed in monster movies. Most movies don’t even show the monster until the very end of the movie, shrouding them in mystery and suspicion. Pacific Rim shows the kaiju in detail from the beginning, making the movie about the fights and goals instead of about the monsters. It was a great change of pace for monster movies.
For example, two of my other favorite monster movies are Cloverfield and Super 8. Both don’t show the monster till the very end of the movie. We never even get a clear shot of the Cloverfield monster because of the shaking camera. I had to look up a picture of the monster to see it properly. That’s why I’m excited for Godzilla this summer. We know what Godzilla looks like, and the trailers even show him. There are rumors there are other monsters, and Godzilla is “chaotic nuteral” instead of evil, which will be even better. More monsters!