starlady: Uryuu & Ichigo reenact Scott Pilgrim (that doesn't even rhyme)
[personal profile] starlady
Pacific Rim. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. 2013.

I really liked this movie! I was expecting to find it enjoyable, but I was surprised at how much I genuinely liked it! I in fact am planning to go see it again! It's not perfect by any means, but I really liked it. If this is an example of the animeticization of Hollywood, then I say, bring it on. If you like anime, or action movies, or Neon Genesis Evangelion, you should see this movie.

So, I have to say at the start that while I have absolutely no concrete evidence for this, I am very, very sure that Pacific Rim is an under the table licensed adaptation of the seminal (har) Gainax anime Evangelion. My unconcrete evidence for this is the fact that it was very heavily implied to me that this was the case by a scriptwriter who works in the anime industry last fall in Minneapolis. My unspecific evidence is the way that, if you watch the making-of featurettes, Guillermo del Toro talks about how "no one on set was allowed to talk about their influences", and that, as [personal profile] oyceter pointed out and my sister bemoaned, for an Eva adaptation it sticks pretty close to the main trunk of other mecha shows and avoids what made Eva so unique, i.e. all the weird mysticism. But, if you were making an unofficial adaptation of Eva and Gainax wanted to be able to maintain plausible deniability, that is how you would have to do it! Point being: Hollywood does Eva! And you know, given the shambling horrors that have been the official adaptations of anime, both achieved and perpetually in development (Speed Racer, Cowboy Bebop, Akira), maybe we should prefer that Hollywood do it this way.

The funny thing is that Hollywood actually manages to make some interesting interventions into the mecha genre. For instance, I thought the solution to the "all mecha pilots contract horrible mental illnesses as a result of piloting the mecha" problem to be pretty cool: divide the psychic load between two pilots via a neural bridge! Of course, why wouldn't you just do that instead? And then you can also get rid of some of the solipsism and narcissism that mecha pilots so often display. (I'm looking at you, Shinji. But you're not the only one.) Brilliant!

That said, and here's as good a time as any, oh holy cats this movie was so full of dudes. And not just dudes in general--white dudes! Almost all of the characters could have been women or POC and absolutely nothing would have changed, so it's frustrating that it was basically Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and a bunch of white dudes. I know Choi is POC, and that is awesome, but I'd like to have, you know, Masato. As well as getting rid of the weird mysticism, Pacific Rim also gets rid of Eva's ladies. And it's not like I ever watched Eva and thought, "Damn, there are too many ladies in this anime." However: as much as I give the side-eye to a white guy being chief of the kaijû trade in the central-west Pacific, I think that his character would have been a terrible collection of Orientalist stereotypes had he been played by an Asian actor. So…deal with your fail, Hollywood.

I was particularly annoyed that we never saw an all-female Jaeger team, and I was also sort of giving the side-eye to the fact that most of the pilot teams are familial relations (it was totally unclear to me whether the Russian pilots were married or siblings, since they had about 5 minutes of screen time). Given that the sexual potential of the drift is clear from the Mako/Raleigh plot arc, the fact that the movie went out of its way to foreclose the possibility of non-heterosexual pilot romance was irksome. (I did like that they didn't kiss at the end.)

I loved Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi, both separately and together, and it's nice to know that removing the "Rei is a clone of your dead wife!" thing from the Gendo/Rei relationship renders it 100% less creepy. As much as I loved Mako (and I am going to give myself her hairstyle), I did think she could have been more awesome in the execution: why the hell does she pass out and need to be ejected at the end? That was bullshit, as was her hanging back while what's-his-face gets into a fight with the Australian dudebro.

I literally could not remember Raleigh's name when I got home from the theater, which tells you a lot about his character and also what I was watching the movie for, but my sister tells me that the actor playing him was great on Queer as Folk, which suggests that he was actually acting in this movie, in which case well done at playing the lunkheaded American who nonetheless isn't a total lunkhead. (Viz his speaking Japanese--and also possibly either Cantonese or Mandarin? I couldn't tell.) The Japanese dialogue was fine as far as I could tell, and I liked the multilingualism of the movie. It wasn't excessive by any means, but it was far more present than most Hollywood flicks. It's funny, though, that the screenwriters gave the character with a Japanese love interest what is probably one of the most difficult English names for most Japanese people to pronounce.

I also really liked the way the action progressed--it is very anime, and very mecha anime, and we have hit one of those things that I have trouble describing but that is very clearly perceptible if you've seen enough anime. We shelled out to see it in (fake) IMAX 3D, and though the IMAX was fake and not worth the money I was glad to see it in 3D because the composition of the images, and also some of the visual design itself, reminded me a lot of what Tom Lamarre talks about in The Anime Machine--the ballistic image, the exploded viewpoint. (Think Tony Stark with his schematic holograms that he flings around--that is what that is, and there are literally expandable holograms in this movie too.) Speaking of Tony Stark, the dimensional porthole at the end is basically the end of The Avengers, but if you're going to do a takeoff on the end of The Avengers, Pacific Rim does it much better than The Dark Knight Rises did.

Anyway. It was great! Go see it.
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