Sunday, April 17, 2016

Monsters Review Monsters: "Pacific Rim"

L:  Hello, I have many names, but you may call me Leviathan. I am the End of All Material Things, the Final Nemesis, and an amateur movie critic. With me is Quatra, a West Atlantic Defense Tower measuring approximately 985 feet in height and carrying an 878,000 megaton explosive yield nuclear stockpile. She also enjoys movies.

Q:  Hello, everyone!

L:  In recent years the so-called giant monster genre of entertainment has seen increased popularity. More than ever, puny humans with incomprehensibly brief lifespans are becoming fascinated by tales of kaiju and other large monstrosities ravaging the Earth.

Q:  Such interests also cross the mecha, cosmic horror, and mythological fantasy genres, but regardless of title, these works all have, at their core, an antagonist of astounding size. And given that Leviathan and I are both entities of astounding size, we thought we could offer a unique perspective on the books, movies, television shows, and games that feature "strange beasts."

L:  We're going to start with something relatively new and popular, the historical drama "Pacific Rim," directed by Guillermo del Toro. The story is set during the final years of mankind's dominance over their birth world as they struggle to survive an onslaught of kaiju, which emerge from the bottom of the sea. Cities are destroyed, millions killed, and though the Sons of Adam are successful in developing new weapons forged in their own image, the monstrous invasions grow increasingly frequent and destructive, with no end to the violence in sight.

Q:  Let's talk accuracy, because that was a huge stumbling block for me. In typical fashion, Hollywood has completely glossed over history in order to tell a more streamlined, "action-packed" story. The first mecha gargantua weren't even born until AFTER the Wall of Life program was instituted. We're talking a thirty year gap here - a pretty significant chunk of history that includes the Akira Incident, the Third Impact, and confrontations with Dagon. 

L:  History, in the human sense, is an entirely fallacious concept. I tried to focus on the film's thematic progression and its handling of the story arc overall. I did think they were a bit heavy with the exposition, though.

Q:  Also, the kaiju in this movie are tiny. Seriously, look at this chart: 

Those tiny black silhouettes are the kaiju from the movie. The bigger, grayer ones represent the creatures I fight almost every single day.

L:  Eons ago, the Nephilim walked the Earth, and though they had many slaves, they were hunted by still larger entities - luminous beings which could blot out the sky with their mass. Grandeur is always relative.

Q:  The fights were pretty rad, though.

L:  Yes, let us discuss the bloodshed.

Q:  I haven't lived as a human in centuries, so I find it difficult to empathize with fleshy consequences like dismemberment and melting skin, but I did find the plight of the jaegers - the giant robots employed against the kaiju - to be a very compelling aspect. 

L:  I am a manifestation of the sea, and though countless waves will break upon the shore, my assault is unrelenting.

Q:  Exactly. What we have here is a war between robotic slaves and a race of twisted alien simulacra, bred to kill from the moment they're born. As a living defense Tower that spends her days engaged in long-distance bombardment of enraged biomechanical beings, that really spoke to me. And I think that's the beauty of historical fiction - its ability to transcend time by portraying struggle as a universal and timeless facet of life. Its eerie how closely the distant past resembles the present.

L:  I too felt time that time and place were being transcended, though more specifically in the way this film entirely resembled "Independence Day," directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Will Smith.

Q:  Well, it's true that both conflicts were resolved with the use of tactical nuclear warheads - a solution I am not unfamiliar with. 

L:  Wholesale destruction of famous human landmarks, alien invaders, a species on the brink of extinction, scientific hubris, environmentalist overtones, a rousing speech by a war veteran, utilizing subterfuge to breach an otherwise impassable barrier, a look of recognition and terror on the face of the Other as they greet their annihilation, a non-provocative hug between romantic partners at the film's conclusion...

Q:  Romantic partners? What romantic partners?

L:  Our protagonists Raleigh and Mako. Mako was caught staring at Raleigh's naked torso. They had an innuendo-laden sword fight. They were Drift compatible, implying compatibility in other ways. She begged him not to leave her alone when she thought he was dying.

Q:  So, what, just because a man and woman are on screen they have to fall in love? Maybe their Drift compatibility allowed them to bypass mere infatuation and arrive at a deeper connection that's wholly platonic, which might be why things seemed more playful in the beginning but less so after they Drifted. Love isn't all about the desire to bone. There are many kinds of love.

L:  I am the Antithesis of Life and Love. It is my entire purpose to bring an end where there is a beginning. I am Death, which severs all human emotion forever.

Q:  But love isn't an emotion, Leviathan. It's a connection. Emotions come and go, but love transcends us. Although I think it's silly that one measly 250 foot robot would require two human minds to operate, the implication is that connections can overcome even the most frightening levels of adversity. My partner, Alti, is also a Tower, and we wouldn't be able to do what we do - fight for a thousand years - if it wasn't for our bond. The promise that, no matter what, we'll be together. 

L:  I do not wish to hear about your husband and his anxiety problems again. Overall, as an ageless and unknowable entity, I give "Pacific Rim" 3 stars out of 5. A solid action movie. Strong visuals with an uninteresting character arc. Ultimately satisfying if largely forgettable.

Q:  Hmph. I give it 4 out of 5 stars for its subtle undertones, masterful use of color, and excellent fight scenes. I could have done with better performances from the main actors and more historical accuracy.

L:  If you have a suggestion for the next giant monster related item we should review, let us know in the comments. And be sure to check out the novel "Towers," by Karl Fischer, which includes my co-host Quatra and a cameo by me, Leviathan, the Enemy of Man.

Q:  Till next time!

 Buy Towers on Amazon


  1. Awesome. I look forward to more in this series. There's nothing like a fresh perspective on our tiny, flawed human documentaries.

    1. If you have any suggestions for things you'd like a giant monster perspective on, be sure to let them know.

  2. I did enjoy the film, for the most part :)