Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched 'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more 'Orphan Black,' Season 3: Clone Club Reconvenes, With Boys Allowed 'Orphan Black,' Season 3: Clone Club Reconvenes, With Boys Allowed The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss

Critics Battle Over 'Pacific Rim'

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire July 8, 2013 at 11:27AM

Critics Battle Over 'Pacific Rim'
3
Peter Labuza's "Approaching the End" will focus on movies about the apocalypse.
Peter Labuza's "Approaching the End" will focus on movies about the apocalypse.

Like a lot of people who love intelligent spectacle on a grand scale -- you know, movies -- I've got more than a little emotional capital invested in Pacific Rim being great. So it broke my heart when I tuned in this morning and saw the first wave of reviews, which, at least in my Twitter feed, seemed to agree that Guillermo del Toro's robots-vs-monsters tentpole was all explosions and no heart. Further research has revealed a slightly more complicated picture, one that at least leaves some hope going into the film’s opening weekend. 


Whether pro or con, Pacific Rim's critics seem to agree on a frame of reference: A young boy playing in the basement or the bathtub, devising ever more elaborate and catastrophic battles between action figures, with whom the movie's characters are sometimes unfavorably compared. For all its destruction, the movie’s point of view is essentially childlike, pre-ironic, or as Screen Daily's Tim Grierson puts it,  

Director Guillermo del Toro has crafted a dopey, earnest and occasionally visionary sci-fi action film that keeps being dragged down by its drab characters and indifferent performances. Perhaps that's fitting for a movie in which humans take a backseat to effects in terms of generating visceral emotional responses.... 
As he's demonstrated in his comic-book films, del Toro wields a childlike innocence in Pacific Rim that makes the life-and-death stakes seem rather weightless. Resembling a kid happily smashing his toys together in the backyard while playing pretend, del Toro's film has an uncomplicated air about it.... 
And yet, Pacific Rim can be powerfully engaging once del Toro focuses on one of several full-scale battle scenes, any pretense of character depth or dramatic nuance stripped away so that really big robots and really scary monsters can duke it out. Unlike Michael Bay's Transformers movies, Pacific Rim manages to make the super-sized action sequences feel appreciably colossal and yet still understandable. 

For HitFix's Drew McWeeny, del Toro brings back the sense of awe he felt when he first saw Star Wars, a sensation he wonders if today's action-saturated audiences are still able to connect with. 

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.... 
There is an earnest, straightforward voice to the storytelling, and it reminded me of the films that Hollywood churned out in the early '40s to convince America that the war effort was essential and heroic and we were on the side of right. If you look at Pacific Rim as propaganda made towards the end of the infamous Kaiju/Human war, it has this great adventure movie tone that I find really infectious. 

More in that vein: 

Devin Faraci, Badass Digest:

Guillermo del Toro has achieved a feat of world building unseen on movie screens since Star Wars. This is a rich, full, detailed universe that lives at the very corner of the frame.

Robbie Colin, Telegraph:

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.

Todd Gilchrist, The Verge

Ultimately, all Pacific Rim really needed to be was a clear-eyed, proficient example of high-concept thrill-ride storytelling, whether or not its "original" premise was particularly original. But del Toro accomplishes that task and then some, making one of the most satisfying movies of the summer -- and one of the best of his career -- by creating not just a new world, but one whose mythology actually deserves a universe.

This article is related to: Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro, Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Warner Brothers


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome