There's an admirable formula goofiness to Guillermo del Toro's new monsters vs. robots action flick Pacific Rim. He's taken various parts of other films — of course Godzilla's Asian city destruction, but also some of Independence Day's odd mix of kookiness and rabble rousing, and Top Gun's dudes-in-training swagger — and mashed them into an omnibus of tropes and familiar plotlines. The movie is entirely predictable — you know exactly who is going to die and when (and even how) — but there's something cozy about that. Pacific Rim is comfortable in its cheese, its genre trappings, its basic and inelegant structure. Which is respectable! But unfortunately it makes the movie kinda boring, too.
[Caution: Contains spoilers.]
It shouldn't be boring. I mean, the movie is about giant monsters crawling out of an inter-dimensional fissure at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and the enormous robot suits that humans use to fight them. That's the dream of any child smashing two toys together, imagining a battle on a gargantuan, epic scale. And yet, after the first such clash of the titans, everything else feels pretty repetitive. Turns out, once you've seen one fight between impossibly large monsters and robots, you've seen 'em all. There's also a long, way too long, stretch in the middle of the film when no battles are happening, it's all a bunch of hokey scientific discovery and muddled character development. Though the robot thrashing does eventually get dull, by that point we've really only seen one such battle. But we're made to sit and wait for what feels like an hour before we get another, the movie instead trying to immerse us in its world of mind-melds — two people control each big robot, cerebrally linked to move as one — and monster bone dealers and various intra-soldier social tensions. But the movie is too disjointed to be immersive — del Toro's olio of different movie parts is a detriment here. And so Pacific Rim lurches on awkwardly, with some juddering moments of excitement but the total picture feeling increasingly leaden.