Some spoilers ahead
Almost a year ago I’d heard small talk about Guillermo Del Toro’s next movie and how it was gonna be about “kaiju” (Godzilla-type) monsters and immediately fanboy’d the hell out. Not because I’m into those kaiju monster movies… but because GDT is so good at creating and designing monsters (See: both Hellboys, Blade 2 [best movie ever, by the way] and Pan’s Labyrinth). And then to add, there’d by giant man-controlled robots to battle said kaiju monsters, Gundam Wing/Neon Genesis Evangelion-style. Stop… just stop it, dude.
The first batch of trailers came out, though, and it had me worried. The robot sounds, the dubsteppy-type music and the overall look of the robots had me thinking this joint was gonna be another wack Transformers movie. But, inside I knew that I shouldn’t judge it too harshly because GDT always has the human element tucked under it.
I’ll just say that most sci-fi/action films get it wrong… they worry too much about action and looking awesome (which is an important element of these movies, I’ll say that… nothing like masculine, gunned-up soldiers shooting the shit out of aliens/monsters/etc.), but they often neglect the mythology of the sci-fi, and also the emotional characters. But sometimes you get gems that know what the hell they’re doing when they take on a project of this scope/disbelief. Stuff like Aliens and District 9… smart, badass and emotional films that bring the whole package. Starting to realize that this might be my favorite genre… yet so few do it right.
Del Toro is a total geek and made this into not only a monster movie, but essentially a live-action anime with mechs, monsters, a Hong Kong backdrop, emotional stakes and even some self-aware corniness that you can only get from the best of mangas (“This is for my family”; *Initiate jaeger sword feature and cut that motherfucker kaiju in half*)
It also has my favorite aspect of sci-fi action films: disgruntled, “kill-em-all”, Marine/soldier types. Badass warriors who get down to business and kick ass when necessary (also sometimes when it’s unnecessary as well -“let’s check if it still has a pulse”- that usually provides the best scenes).
One thing I really loved about the film, too, was that certain elements of either the kaiju or the jaegers (robots) were not shown from the get-go. Like say there’s a specific feature on the jaeger you didn’t know about… they won’t show it to you, or even tell you it’s there until shit goes down. For instance, one of the kaiju that gave Raleigh and Mako a hard time all of a sudden flapped its wings (which you didn’t even know they had) towards the end of a long fight– I almost freaked out when I saw this. Moments like that are scattered throughout the film and are there for the purpose of storytelling and filmmaking.
Because at some point in the beginning of the film, you realize how unnecessary it is for soldiers to be inside the jaeger, when they could just be managing it, drone-style. But then the nerd part of me slaps my face and says “Who cares?”. This is a universe where ridiculous stuff happens… and that’s why I think it’s important to understand the universe… and understand that this is pretty much an anime we’re watching. Most of these decisions are made to add an emotional element to it, or just a really surprising film-making element to it. The “drift” feature seems very unnecessary, but it’s there to connect emotionally with the characters.
Man I have like nothing bad to say about this movie. I honestly can’t wait to watch it again.