As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
Spoilers? Pretty much. But Brazil is one of the last countries to get this movie in the silver screen, although South Africa and Greece are still in the list.
Let me start this be saying that I spoiled the shit out of me about this movie. I watched every single trailer, every single featured, read every single interview and read the damn spoilers on TVTropes. And, still, I enjoyed the hell of it.
Story is… alright, I’d say. I mean, if you’re going to a movie about “big robots fighting big monsters”, are you really into the story? Do you read Playboy for the articles?
Anyway, although the story is not the highest point of the movie, it isn’t bad per se. There is good character development and, most important, it’s consistent with itself. Surely it can’t be our own universe, as money can make materials appear out of thin air, and enough to build several huge robots, their own houses (the Shatterdomes), a huge house for about 5 robots and still build a huge wall around the Pacific ocean. Not to mention, pay all those people.
Character development goes around memories. Raleigh learns about Mako past when they share a memory in the drift; you finally understand Raleigh when he’s telling Mako about his own past; you finally understand Pentecost when Raleigh confronts him about Mako; and so on, and on, and on. Thing is, it works: The way those scenes happen feels really natural in the flow of the story, so it’s not “here, sit down and let me tell you a story about the past…” with waving lines (although it’s not “Hero” style, when you’re shown several different “pasts” and you have to make the real story using parts of them).
One problem with character development (at least to me) was the mixed messages from the featurettes and interviews. I mean, they interviewed Heather Doerksen about the movie, she appeared in the preview screening of the movie (posing for photos and such) and Guilhermo Del Toro mentioned that he didn’t want a movie about a country saving humanity, but humanity saving humanity. And you have this mix of Russian, Chinese, Australian and American jaegers around, so you believe there will be fights with all of those, proving that different countries can work together besides their past differences.
Which doesn’t happen.
You’re shown the Chinese triplets playing basketball, you see the two “walls” of Russian pilots around and directing people when things go haywire (with Gipsy new team test) and, still, as soon as they jump into the fight, they die. You’re given about 10 minutes of character exposure just to see them die. You feel sadder because you won’t see those two jaegers running around instead of the death of people who were protecting the planet.
Acting is alright. Everybody is mentioning Idris Elba acting as a drill-sargent-with-feelings and they are right. He steals any scene he appears with the other characters; Charlie Hunnam does an ok job in most of the movie, with the highlight in the part where he describes the dead of his brother. One actress nobody mentions is Mana Ashida, who plays a young Mako in her memory. Sure, she’s just a kid, but hell if you don’t care about her when you see this little girl running around with one of her shoes in her hand calling her mom. It is amazing how fast you connect to her and what’s going on and you really see the sense of being lost and scared in her face.
But hey, let’s talk about what really matters: FIGHTS! Kaiju vs Jaeger. Now excuse me for a moment while I let the CGI quality talk slip due the fact that all those things I watched on YouTube (that I mentioned in the first paragraph) have way higher quality than what I saw on the cinema. It was like I was watching a QuickTime movie, converted to Windows Media Video, converted then to MPEG, then saved on some roll. It was that bad in comparison.
Quality aside, and with the notion that this is in no way our universe, the Jaeger fights are absolutely awesome. While watching those, I was grinning ear to ear, as those are absolutely spectacular. Surely, some are hard to see due most of them being at night (a trick to hide CGI imperfections, I know) but still you can see most of the action. Some people compared this movie to Transformers and the difference is that you can understand what’s going on thanks to the proper camera positioning instead of having someone break-dancing during combat.
The only problem I got with the fights is the lost of dimension. Still in the early part of the movie, you’re giving an idea of the dimension of a Jaeger when Gypsy Danger saves a (small) fishing boat. Then, just a few minutes later, another glimpse of it when the same Gypsy crashes in a beach. But later on, you have huge robot vs huge monster in a city with huge buildings and all that feeling of “fucking hell, those things are huge” is simply lost. Still, watching Gypsy Danger standing still in combat position while a Kaiju is going straight to her or Striker Eureka sudden speed sprint to save the other Jaegers… It’s really cool.
I know I posted this review with several points and all of them have their “but”, but (again) I enjoyed the hell of it. I still think that if it wasn’t for the low quality in the cinema, I’d enjoyed even more (and that’s why I plan to buy a the high quality version as soon as it’s available). The story have very little plot holes, the characters have enough development to make you care for them, the fights are awesome… Everything one could expect of a “robots vs monsters” movie, and a bit more.
BONUS! SPOILERS AHOY! Favorite scenes:
- Gypsy Danger fall in the beach.
- “First, do not touch me again. Second, do not touch me again.”
- Young Mako running away from the monsters.
- Crimson Typhoon leg rotation to throw Otachi.
- Striker Eureka sprint trying to save Cherno Alpha after the destruction of Crimson Typhoon.
- Gypsy Danger fighting pose before Leatherback strikes.
- Gypsy Danger controlled “fall” after being thrown by Leatherback.
- Gypsy Danger getting up in the dirt cloud of the stadium.
- Workers inside a Kaiju (I think it was Leatherback, again).
- The ocean water receding and then hitting back after Striker Eureka explosion.