seen @ UA Midway Stadium 9, Forest Hills, Queens, NY
I had very few action figures as a kid. The type of toys I tended to favor were building toys: Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, domino obstacle courses, stuff like that. I definitely don't remember clamoring my parents for action figures, which is odd, since I'd see them in the Sears fall catalog every year, which I always closely scrutinized. In a way, I kinda regret that. I feel a little bit like I missed out.
Watching Pacific Rim, one gets the impression that director/co-writer Guillermo Del Toro probably had action figures as a kid... and he probably liked pitting his Gundams against a Mothra or a King Kong or what have you. I read a recent interview with him in which he said how some people think he makes two kinds of movies; one kind for the studios (Hellboy, Blade 2) and one for himself (Pan's Labyrinth, Cronos), when in fact, he says, they're all the kinds of films he wants to make.
He couldn't be making them at a better time. Geek movies, and geek moviemakers, rule Hollywood right now, but Del Toro is unique in that the majority of the films he has written are based on original properties, as opposed to those based on comics or novels or video games.
As a result, a film like Pacific Rim, one without stars and that doesn't come with a pre-established audience, lives or dies primarily on the strength of Del Toro and his reputation. And while it's doing okay at the domestic box office so far (internationally, it's another story), it hasn't been as big a breakout movie as comparable films like Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness, films with well-established audiences.
It's unfortunate that original properties are harder sells in Hollywood than adaptations - not just for genre films, but all sorts of films. Every franchise, after all, began with somebody taking a chance on someone else's original idea, no matter where that idea originated. Original ideas, though, are considered risky in today's Hollywood, and that bodes ill for its future. But that's another post.
Pacific Rim, derivative and cliche as it was in places, was still fun to watch. We get to see not only the robot-monster fights, but the way the world has changed as a result of their presence, which I liked seeing. Also, it was a refreshing change to see an action movie this summer that didn't take collateral damage for granted. For instance, did you notice the moment where one of the giant robots actually bothers to step over what looked like a pedestrian walkway while searching for the giant monsters?
Del Toro also said in another interview that he felt it was important to make an action movie that wasn't America-centric, one which was more multi-national, and that's certainly a worthy idea - not only because Hollywood is catering more to international audiences these days, but because it simply makes sense. The Kaiju monsters, after all, don't recognize borders, and besides, it gives us an opportunity to see different kinds of actors.
For instance, I had never seen Rinko Kikuchi before (she was Oscar-nominated for her role in Babel) and I liked her. Well, I thought she was really cute, mostly, but I would welcome seeing her again in the right movie. Plus, this was the first time I got to see Idris Elba with his British accent, even if he did ham it up a lot. In a summer of action movie disappointments, Pacific Rim... met expectations, if not exceeded them.