Pacific Rim (which opens in theaters this Friday) may be one of Screen Rant‘s most-anticipated movies of 2013, but the blockbuster’s pre-release tracking results – showing that general moviegoers are more interested in seeing Grown-Ups 2 this weekend – has clearly left Warner Bros./Legendary feeling concerned about the box office prospects for director Guillermo del Toro’s giant robots vs. giant monsters extravaganza. Because of this, WB has ratcheted the marketing campaign for Pacific Rim in the days leading up to its release, to an intensity-level that is – in some regards – even higher than that for Man of Steel last month.
Hence, today we can offer the third (final?) two-minute Pacific Rim preview to be released online in the past two weeks. That “Resistance” clip highlights more battle footage between the Jaegers – 25-story tall robots controlled by dual human pilots with a psychic bond – and the other-worldly Kaiju (re: giant creatures) in the film.
Meanwhile, the first wave of reviews for Pacific Rim have begun to trickle online (look for Screen Rant‘s this Friday). The short of it? Some reviewers are unabashed in their adoration of the Japanese monster movie love letter that del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham have produced, while others are less enthusiastic but still willing to give the flick a recommendation. And, of course, what critical round-up would be complete without a few naysayers?
First, here are the cream of the crop, as far as the first wave of Pacific Rim reviews go. The following either gave the film a perfect star rating or ‘A’ grade score, and their choice of words – to express their personal admiration for the blockbusters – expresses as much (NOTE: for the full review, click on the respective site link for each SPOILER-FREE excerpt):
Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is a movie that is loaded with images and ideas that are fantastic, in every sense of the word, and yet I worry that we’ve reached a point where audiences shrug at the promise of the new. What Del Toro brings to the table, and not just with this film, is an endless love of the incredible… He has always managed to give even his most mainstream efforts an eccentric and particular voice, but until now, we’ve never really seen what it looks like when someone takes Del Toro off the leash.
At first, watching Pacific Rim feels like rediscovering a favourite childhood cartoon – but del Toro has flooded the project with such affection and artistry that, rather than smiling nostalgically, you find yourself enchanted all over again. The twist is that for once, here is a blockbuster that is not based on a cartoon, comic book, or anything else: it sprung from an idea by Travis Beacham, the film’s screenwriter, and then came to fruition in del Toro’s fecund brain.
They don’t let 14 year-old boys direct multi-million dollar feature films, but somehow, perhaps through years of Ramtha-like training, Guillermo Del Toro has channeled the interests, attitudes and fears from that mindset with a clarity that far surpasses contemporaries like Michael Bay.
Others, however, feel that Pacific Rim makes for a fun, yet fleeting, two hours of whiz-bang entertainment.
Technically the film succeeds on almost every level… How much you enjoy the film will depend on the value you put on narrative engagement, there are some incredible scenes to behold (the Tokyo flashback sets a high mark for Legendary stablemate Godzilla to meet), the film strikes so few resonant notes that it ends up as an enjoyable ride, one which is forgotten relatively quickly.
The reviews that place Pacific Rim into the “good, but flawed” category tend to cite basic storytelling issues as the problem (be it questionable pacing, weak dialogue, or strained plot developments).
[The combination of] an appealing cast and array of visceral thrills – compensates for the significant structural issues and ensures that this behemoth of a blockbuster provides enough entertainment and fun to stay afloat and merit your attention.
If you can get past the dodgy dialogue and just enjoy the creature carnage, Pacific Rim definitely has a lot to offer. Despite all the influences it wears on its sleeve – from Japanese animation to monster epics and even World War II movies – it comes across as a true original, one hopefully destined to spawn follow-ups in the future, instead of simply selling toys. This is huge scale entertainment with guts and a heart – even if the brain is sometimes lacking during the more human moments.
Compared to some of the more leaden spectacles this summer, “White House Down” and the final hour of “Man of Steel” chief among them, “Pacific Rim” has the inventive, colorful textures of a fully realized world. But that’s only enough to make it a slightly different kind of dumb from the usual messy blockbuster routine.
Other reviews, however, take issue with the fact that Pacific Rim has limited appeal (despite its technical achievements), and is sure to be dismissed by those who aren’t fans of the older pop cultural touchstones that inspired del Toro’s film.
[‘Pacific Rim’ will be enjoyable] for those who measure fun primarily in terms of noise, chaos and bombast, or who can find continual novelty in the sight of giant monsters and robots doing battle for the better part of two hours. Viewers with less of an appetite for nonstop destruction should brace themselves for the squarest, clunkiest and certainly loudest movie of director Guillermo del Toro’s career, a crushed-metal orgy that plays like an extended 3D episode of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” on very expensive acid.
Which, of course, leads us to the most negative Pacific Rim reviews so far (in all fairness, though, they’re not that hard on the movie).
These on-screen battles provide a few jolts — one of the film’s strong points is that it isn’t shot and edited in Michael Bay Confuse-o-Vision — but it’s a jigsaw of random pieces. We get a robo-fist here and a monster face there, but none of the satisfying head-to-toe action of, say, Rodan or Mothra going toe-to-toe with another zipper-backed beast.
But in spite of its narrative richness and thoughtfulness, Pacific Rim lacks for poignancy… Del Toro may be uninterested in flag-waving and feminist commentary, but he also shuns emotional intimacy, and in the end doesn’t rise above the obligations of staging a film of this sort as a multi-level video game, a stylish but programmatic ride toward an inevitable final boss battle…
So far, the overall critical reception for Pacific Rim is very good, even when taking into consideration the similar complaints raised by reviews. Some of the criticisms seem a little off-base (see: “dodgy dialogue”), given the pulpy genre context in which del Toro and Beacham are telling this particular story. Likewise, other recurring criticisms seem to awkwardly straddle that fine line between complaining about how well a movie functions – in terms of narrative, technical and thematic substance – and how the reviewer wants the movie to function (or what they think it should be like).
Regardless, it sounds like Pacific Rim will be a childhood dream come true – for the film’s core geek demographic – while other moviegoers should find the film to be highly entertaining (even with the flaws). Basically, whatever your thoughts and feelings have been towards the Pacific Rim footage included in marketing, it would appear that you’re likely to have a similar reaction to the actual movie.
Pacific Rim opens in select 2D and 3D/IMAX theaters in the U.S. on July 12th, 2013.
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