IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 131 min
REVIEWED BY: Peter Hearn
I agree with the Doc on many a thing, but there also comes a time where we go head to head like the Giant Monsters and Giant Robots of Pacific Rim and just punch it out – Pacific Rim is that time.
Now, I need to say I LOVE Guillermo Del Toro. I love his passion, I love his enthusiasm, I love his movies. His Mexican output like Pan’s Labyrinth would easily fit into my top movie lists, even ‘Mimic’ I think is a wholly underrated movie. I wait for his next films with baited breath as I feel he is a visionary director.
I love Godzilla too, and other Toho classics, Doc and I share a love of ’Destroy All Monsters’, I even made a homage film to ‘King Kong v Godzilla’ myself as I love those films so much, and I cannot wait for Gareth Edwards take on ‘Godzilla’. I seriously cannot wait.
I also love Gundam, Evangelion and Patlabor, the anime/manga that has giant mecha driven by humans. I love all this stuff, seriously.
I wanted to LOVE this movie too, I wanted to adore it, I wanted to cuddle up to it on warm Summer nights and say “you are my favourite Summer movie” but I can’t, because it isn’t. I felt seriously letdown.
This film had ME written all over it, so why am I writing an alternate review – because it wasn’t the film it should have been. It wasn’t MY film. So much love…lost.
Where do we start?
Why, lets start with a bit I liked a lot more than Doc, The soundtrack.
Doc and I are battered and bruised over this, his main gripe. Whilst not original, i felt that Ramin Djawadi’s score was actually pretty good and fit the film well, I am still humming its theme now. I felt this gave the film a bit of drive, because let’s face it, the story didn’t.
Yes I know, it’s a film about Giant Monsters fighting Giant Robots, and that is pretty cool, but why did it have to be pretty cool rather than mindblowing amazing with a story attached that made you care whilst you gasped in awe at the pretty visuals. Now I’m a practical guy, I like my practical effects, but the VFX on this film was pretty outstanding, CGI helped make those set pieces work. However, I have to go back to STORY; why didn’t the guys working on the story – Travis Beacham, Guillermo Del Toro himself, and Luther writer Neil Cross (who goes uncredited here) give us someone, something, anything to care about. Doc talks about the innocence that he likes, the non cynical aspect of the movie, and I can see where he’s coming from, this was designed for kids of all ages. But kids aren’t idiots; I wanted to see sequels to this movie (not in a franchise way, just in a lets continue the story way), I wanted to quote lines, I wanted my kids to count this as their favourite movie. I just don’t think they will.
Blockbusters of old; Jaws, Raiders, Star Wars, had story. They may have been simple, but they made you care. The only character I cared about, and that was because he made his presence known was Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chou. I felt cheated by the other characters, who seemed to have stepped in from other movies (Independence Day, Ghostbusters, Avengers Assemble, Top Gun). Idris Elba was a weird mix of Randy Quaid, Will Smith and Bill Pullman from ID4, Charlie Day was Brent Spiner (ID4) fused with Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters), Charlie Hunnam had the blandness of Chris Evans portrayal of Captain America in Avengers Assemble, and his interactions with ex Eastender Robert Kaminski were straight out of Top Gun, as was Rinko Kikuchi.
It really felt that someone had taken a big red marker to the script and said “audiences are idiots, they don’t need to know stuff”. I spent over 2 hrs with those characters, I could tell you almost nothing about Hunnam’s character, almost nothing about Rinko Kikuchi’s adult character, Kaminski was just grumpy Val Kilmer. I got to know nothing, care not a jot. Elba was the same, although he played his 3 part ID4 character the best he could.
Nothing is new in Hollywood, or in the world of movies anymore, because there’s just no money to be made in ‘new’. It’s just a shame that even Del Toro has seemingly been sucked into that world. I saw very little of him in it. If it is meant to be a personal movie to him, then he’s clearly got an identity crisis going on, as it seemed to be a patchwork quilt of so many other movies with little life beneath the surface sheen. Really, thinking about it, the only original thing I saw in that movie was the leads not getting it on with each other.
It wasn’t a complete disaster, and I came away mildly entertained, but really, c’mon! Story…guys, hello? Characters – they were never gonna be fully rounded in a film like this, but even a glimmer would have been nice.
The Battle of Hong Kong sequence was great, but it was one sequence in a very long movie of missed opportunities. The ending, well, once again it was a huge Hollywood letdown. It was ‘Independence Day upside down’; it was the end, the exact same end to ‘Avengers Assemble’.
The exact same end.
C’mon Guillermo, you are better than this.