I didn’t see Pacific Rim in theaters, because there were more blockbuster movies this summer than I had appetite for. But I’d heard interesting things about it, primarily revolving around the female mecha pilot, so I was curious to see how this two-plus-hour “Godzilla vs. Transformers” (or, to use its language, kaiju vs. jaeger) movie played.
The leads are described as “a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)”, but my favorite characters were the scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman (Torchwood). Oh, and of course, Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). There wasn’t enough screen time for those I liked, though, and much too much of the effects-driven spectacle, which left me cold. I didn’t need that much of the fighting-suit lights and monster battles. I was ready for the final big fight with an hour of the movie still to go.
As I expected, it all looked amazing. Pacific Rim is definitely a film that shows off the state of the art in digital special effects. However, I never really cared about the characters. It all felt very familiar, based around ideas I’d seen before, a Chinese menu of a movie with a motivation from column A and a backstory from column B. Although Pacific Rim was frequently praised for being one of the few “original” summer movies (as in, not a sequel or something based on a property from other media), I can’t say any of this felt fresh or unique. It was well-done, demonstrating state-of-the-art craft, but it had no heart for me. I’m sure fans of giant monster movies feel differently.
I also wanted to see more women on the screen. There was an awful lot of macho boys’ fantasy to put up with. After a while, all the city destruction got to me, too — while I make no judgment about others’ escapist visuals, I felt it was tasteless to see so much rubble pile up on screen. It was a chore to sit through this film, and the struggles never mattered to me.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes with double-stacked Blu-rays, one for the movie and one for the special features, plus an UltraViolet copy and a movie-only DVD version.
Director Guillermo del Toro provides a commentary, and there are over an hour of “Focus Points”, 13 featurettes about the making of the film. (For details, I suggest this review, from someone who liked the movie much more than I did.)
The second Blu-ray has a digitally interactive Director’s Notebook, with interviews, images, and notes on del Toro’s vision; “Drift Space”, five minutes of character background screens; “The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim” (17 minutes), about the visual effects; a lot of background concept art on the monsters and mecha in a section called “The Shatterdome”; four deleted scenes; and a blooper reel. (The studio provided a review copy.)