1) While Guillermo del Toro not only is clear about this being his version of a kaiju film (it’s not for nothing that the film is dedicated to Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda), this owes more to Starship Troopers than any Godzilla film imaginable. del Toro structures this film as a war movie, with all the military politics and soap operatics that entails in the modern world...and he makes it work.
2) And because it owes a lot, structure-wise, to Starship Troopers, it doesn’t surprise me that del Toro builds its narrative structure firmly on the back of Indris Elba. Much like Michael Ironside in the previous film, Elba serves as expository device, guiding force and character mirror, giving the entire film a consistent tone it might not otherwise have. Because he’s a rock in the center of a very chaotic story, Elba grounds the film and leaves the other characters free to have their own little storylines.
3) Thank God that del Toro respects us enough to let the relationship grow naturally between Charlie Hunnam’s Raliegh and Rinko Kinkuchi’s Mako. Hell, give him credit for making it clear that the two are heading for a romantic relationship without hitting us over the head with it. The two never even kiss, never say anything that expresses their feelings, yet we know.
4) Considering how much I despised him in Torchwood as Owen Harper, I have to give Burn Gorman a lot of credit--and maybe an apology--after his turn as Dr. Gottleib. Gorman submerges himself in Gottleib, allowing himself to be used as comic relief while retaining a sort of dignity as a scientist.
5) You wanna know a way to retain a sense of reality for your science fictional world? Fill your world with character actors who look more or less like real people. Outside of Elba and Ron Perlman, this is a movie populated by people we may recognize vaguely, but only vaguely. Since there’s rarely a moment where we stop and go, 'hey, it’s _______’, we’re able to lose ourselves in the world.
6) I respect how del Toro, knowing we’re jonesing for robot vs. kaiju action, never lets us go thirsty for giant creatures beating each other up. Sure, there are only a few set pieces...but in the spaces in between there’s always something to remind us this is a world under attack by monsters primarily thanks to a series of news reports.
7) Boy, given what he goes through in this film, Ron Perlman must be the best friend ever. And he also must have the least amount of ego.
|...oh, and these guys.|
9) I have to wonder if there is a way to connect the Pacific Rim universe to the Hellboy universe. There are strong commonalities in the way the entropic elements work in each adventure, and one could see a comic-book-y ‘unified field theorem’ going on in the mind of comic-book fan del Toro.
10) You’ll notice I haven’t talked much about the actual, you know, robots fighting monsters thing. That’s because the action sequences kick ass, they’re well thought out, and it’ll feed that primal need we all have to see big honking things roaring and smacking each other around.
Overall...del Toro does it again--finding a way to do something big and shouty that appeals to our younger selves while giving us a degree of nuance you’ll never find in most other big budget blockbusters.
I went to the Atlas again for this, and through the use of strategic bathroom breakage managed to avoid the bulk of the Regal Firstlook (fuck you, Firstlook). Amongst the trailers I saw were Elysium (the new Neil Blomkamp, who seems to be making a subtle sequel to his District 9 judging from some of the tech on display), Anchorman 2 (I just don’t get why the first was so amazing--I found it stupid and puerile--that it needed a decade-later, inferior looking sequel), Ender’s Game (which looks like it would be the kind of science fiction film I’d want to see if, you know, the person who wrote the original wasn’t a homophobic ass) and Seventh Son (a fantasy movie that bugs me for, at turns, obviously wants to be a franchise and wanting me to buy Julianne Moore as an evil witch/dragon). We are entering some dark, dark days, my friends.