"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guillermo del Toro's Epic Made a Grown Man Cry


Limited edition Japanese poster for Guillermo del Toro's mecha epic.

Yes, I had to see PACIFIC RIM on opening day... I grew up watching everything from ULTRAMAN to MOTHRA, and all that was in-between — including anime series such as BRAVE RAIDEEN and VOLTES V. Yes, PACIFIC RIM made a grown man cry. That man was me. Throughout, we were laughing with the funny bits, clapping and shouting during the amazing battle scenes, and we all left the theater buzzing... And those tears were tears of joy.

In short, PACIFIC RIM made me feel that my boyhood dreams of piloting a super robot were brought to thrilling, vivid life. I'm not saying that this was like the first time I saw STAR WARS when I was a kid, but if I were the same age seeing PACIFIC RIM for the first time, now, that's exactly how I'd feel (sans the John Williams fanfare). You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll thank Guillermo for being alive. I mean it. Really.

Del Toro's epic is the best, most satisfying American-made genre blockbuster in years. While the STAR WARS prequels left me cold, this bringing the SHOGUN WARRIORS to life made me feel like a kid again —best yet, PACIFIC RIM is not remake, a sequel or a video game, but an original creation. It sheds the usual, cliched negative cynicism for a refreshing humanitarianism and a true sense of wonder.

Never mind the so-called critics blasting the film, with pat allusions to POWER RANGERS and TRANSFORMERS, which only reveals their ignorance, and proves that they know not of what they speak — don't listen to these idiots. Ignore them. As Harlan Ellison said, "Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing. It's just bibble-babble. It's like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks."

If you've ever cheered the heroic actions of JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT or was riveted to the battle royale of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, then PACIFIC RIM was made for you — and it was made to introduce a whole new generation to the sheer joy those films and television shows brought us. So, go see PACIFIC RIM this weekend —sure, it's not Japanese, but it's the closest anyone's ever come — it's truly more than meets the eye.

Thank you, Guillermo.


Unknown said...

Speaking as someone who grew up loving Japanese cinema after being introduced to Power Rangers at a very young age, I actually like those comparisons. What I don't like from those critics are that they say it in a damning way.

Unknown said...

This movie is everything Godzilla 1998 should have been.
I feel as if this was a game-changer and every kaiju movie from now on are really going to have to bring things up a notch if they want to compete.

Buddy Cop Doug said...

There were moments watching Pacific Rim where I was kicking in my seat, punching the air, and dropping my jaw Tex Avery-style. I can't recall the last time a movie got me that worked up. It was so great.

Also, did you feel like the head design of the flying Kaiju may have been a slight nod to the Baltan aliens?

navin75 said...

I love this movie but rightnow its number 2 in boxoffice

August Ragone said...

A film doesn't have to be #1 to be successful; plus, that position is deceptive. For the record, GROWN UPS 2 is playing on 200 more screens than PACIFIC RIM, so the average per screen is directly proportional to the number of screens for these two films. So in essence, they are dead even.

R.S. Sterling said...

Ive mentioned this on facebook, but Ill repost the fist part here to give you some reference.

"The internet is a blessing and a curse for sure. I do think its robbed us of a little movie magic with all the trailers, images, and sneak peaks. But, being really excited about another giant monster movie, I have been on a media black out until I can see Pacific Rim. I havent watched a single trailer, tried to avoid images, and havent read any reviews. It's been tough, but Im almost there!"

That being said, I couldn't resist reading your review, being pretty much the expert on the genre. And it made me really happy, and even more excited, that you thought so highly of it.

Battra said...

This was an very good movie, I only wish we could've seen more of the other nations mech's in action.

pylgrym said...

The Little Boy and His Giant Robot: a theme that has fascinated me since begging my parents to let me drag them to THE INVISIBLE BOY. I was seven in 1957. Now I am retired and saving up my allowance to be able to afford PR in IMAX 3D!

nikto said...

Pacific Rim was good.

But the filmmakers chose not to introduce the Kaiju in a dramatic way via a real-time scene, and revealed the first one in a summary-montage to get us up to the Jaeger's "darkest hours" and comeback story that comprise most of the plot.

That was a mistake, IMO.

I hope in a director's cut they can piece-together a 3-5 minute scene when the 1st Kaiju comes ashore in Seattle, showing a suspenseful buildup (sounds, waves, tremors, etc), leading to the giant hulk emerging from the water, the terrified people nearby reacting in terror, etc.
The Kaiju themselves are quite well done--They look creepy and genuinely HUGE.
They deserve a better, more suspenseful introduction, to get the picture rolling, IMO.

I find the montage anti-climactic.

August Ragone said...

The intro wasn't anti-climatic, because it was the intro, not the climax. Also, starting in the middle of the overall story was a conceit that was mimicked from a little-known 1977 film, where the heroes were also losing, called STAR WARS. You may have heard of it.

I don't think the film needed an 'intro" for the intro, with a big reveal on the first kaiju — it's completely unnecessary, both dramatically and narratively. In my mind, Del Toro did the right thing, and from beginning to end, PACIFIC RIM was a fully-realized entertainment.