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I’m pretty late to be jumping on the Pacific Rim bandwagon, what with the movie having come out nearly a month ago, but I finally got around to seeing it and was surprised to find it on of the most enjoyable film-going experiences I’ve had this year.
I say I’m surprised because my initial reaction to the first trailer I saw for Pacific Rim was that it looked beyond stupid. I have memories of mostly enjoying the Transformers films, but in hindsight they seem a little soulless, so maybe on some subconscious level Michael Bay had poisoned me against giant robot movies.
However, the positive reviews and fact that I’ve generally enjoyed Guillermo del Toro’s films warmed me up to the film a bit.
Then, at a San Diego Comic Con panel titled “Science Fiction that will change your life” the moderator, io9‘s Annalee Newitz, said the film should be considered on the list of life changing SciFi. That was enough for me and I decided to see it.
Work, life and a thief stealing my car ended up distracting me from seeing the film as soon as I should have, but I finally got around to it last night.
And holy crap is it good. There is more heart in the first five minutes than in all three of Bay’s Transformers movies.
I was initially tempted to compare my viewing experience to the first time I saw Star Wars. The films both felt familiar and wonderfully new at the same time – a trick of creation that is almost magical.
But I think ultimatley that it’s not Star Wars that I want to compare Pacific Rim to – I think I most want to compare it to another of my favorite films The Fifth Element.
Both Pacific Rim and Fifth Element do an extrodinary amount of world building, and tell complete stories that ultimatley are about humans defeating a destructive force through love and working together.
Fifth Element stands alone as a complete story and needs no sequel, even though the world it built is interesting enough to merit one. I’ve heard a lot of talk about Pacific Rim 2, and while I would not hesistate a second to see that film just to get to see more of Earth as it has been shaped by kaiju attacks, I also don’t think a sequel is necessary.
The positive emphasis on shared humanity in both films came at a good time for me emotionally, as I’ve been dealing with the fallout and expense of repairing the damage to my car after it turned up five days after it was stolen. The fact that the expense is hitting me hard frustrates me too, since it shows how much more tenous my financial situation is than I’d like it to be at this point in my life.
Since fiction in all its forms has always been my favorite coping mechanism to life’s ills I’ve really thrown myself into media this week. In particular, I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad and reading Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, a story of a Superman-like superhero falling and becoming the worst supervillain. Both stories are grim, and the cumulative effect had put me in a rather dark frame of mind.
However, I’ve been working through the car stuff and after a week where I’d had a rough schedule I indulged and saw Pacific Rim. The best way I can summarize it is that I felt a sense of child-like joy watching it, and in a way, it’s helped to renew my optimistic outlook. I wouldn’t call it life changing, but it is a tremendously fun movie.

I’ve heard criticism that the movie is simple-minded. It’s not the deepest film I’ve ever seen, but not everything needs to be deep. It’s fun through-and-through, and that’s all that matters.
The only thought I have now is that I need to find a theater that is still showing the movie in 3D so I can see it again.
A side note, BBC announced just before I saw Pacific Rim that Peter Capaldi will be the new Doctor on Doctor Who. I’m of course excited to see the new Doctor, but Idris Elba, who played Stringer Bell on the Wire and Heimdall in Thor, had been a favorite choice of mine for a new Doctor. Seeing his speech about “cancelling the apocalypse” in Pacific Rim makes me even more disappointed that we won’t be getting to see him in that role (yet).

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