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Monster vs. machine tale delivers

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POSTED: July 19, 2013 4:00 p.m.
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Bone up on some geek-speak before going to see "Pacific Rim" and you'll understand it more.

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How was your day today? Was it a good day? No?  Well, look at it this way: At least a 3,000-pound amphibious monster from a portal beneath the sea didn’t attack Coastal Georgia today. That’s a positive thing. Monster attacks are at the heart of the new summer sci-fi/action picture, “Pacific Rim.” To start the review right, we have to begin with a little vocabulary lesson. In Guillermo Del Toro’s epic film, there are two key terms. The first is Kaiju, which is Japanese for monster and describes strange, gigantic creatures not unlike Godzilla that come to Earth from another dimension through a breach in the floor of the sea. The second key term is Jaeger, a German for hunter, which refers to huge mechanical robots piloted by human beings and developed to fight and kill Kaiju.
The main protagonist of the film is Raleigh Becket (“Sons of Anarchy” heartthrob Charlie Hunnam), a Jaeger pilot. When Raleigh was a teenager, the Kaiju attacks began. After the first few attacks, the nations of the world united in an effort to combat them and designed the Jaegers. For many years, the Jaegers were sufficient to protect mankind. But now the Kaiju are appearing at an exponentially accelerated rate — like every four or five hours. And the new Kaiju are much, much stronger.
Del Toro is the type of director you can’t help but call a visionary. I was excited to see “Pacific Rim” because I never thought there would be a director crazy enough to try to make a live action film about mecha, which are man-made robots piloted by human beings and made famous by anime.
I thought “Pacific Rim” was largely successful. Del Toro puts together a believable backstory and weaves the trickier parts of science fiction, such as where the monsters are coming from and why, with massive action scenes.
I had high expectations for this picture, because Del Toro obviously is capable of delivering. There were some dumb summer blockbuster tropes that made the film a little weaker than it should have been.
The dialogue overall could have used some polishing. Just about everyone had one dumb line, apart from actor Idris Elba. After seeing this, I’m thinking it’s too bad Elba is British. I’d vote Elba for president.  
Also, I’ve got to nitpick one aspect of the film. You see, the Jaegers run when two pilots share the cockpit and undergo a neural handshake so that their minds and the robot suit are linked. If you and I were piloting a mecha and were attached at the brain, would we need to communicate verbally? Probably not. More thought should have been given to how two pilots would communicate and honor the science, but keeping the audience in mind at the same time.
The most fun aspect of the film was the role Del Toro gave his longtime collaborator, Ron Perlman. There’s also a small Easter egg during the credits.
Altogether …  I’m a fan!

 

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