Working Through The Queue: Pacific Rim: The Black
Hey, I'm actually reviewing something close to it's actual release, what a novelty. Don't get used to it.
So the original Pacific Rim, to no one's surprise, is a favorite of mine. The moment that gorilla kaiju appeared it was as if del Toro was drifting directly with my robo/monster infatuations and answered my prayers with a beautifully directed over-the-top piece of crazy that appeals to me on so many levels. The second movie......not so much. For many many many many reasons. Many. But I do love this world, and I do love anime, so this should be locked in, right?
Well.........it's better than Pacific Rim Uprising. I'll give it that.
I have a major built in bias against 3D computer animated anime, so I realize that's just my issues because it seems to be a fairly popular style these days. I just have a lot of issues with the stiffness of human characters, and the laziness of reusing similar models in too many scenes to cut costs and time. In regard to animating robots and monsters it can be pretty great and that clunkiness generally works for machinery. It worked fairly well for the kaiju here, however there were a few repeated designs and in the world of kaiju I consider that to be a bit of a sin because what draws us to most kaiju is their uniqueness. The original film fit in something like nine unique designs in an hour and a half, and this seven episode series gets us like......six-ish? Six and a half? Just gimme more kaiju, ok?
And for the humans.....well, I usually want to pour bleach into my eyes after too much 3D CG bullcrap. They gussy this one up nicely though with some decent shading and good coloring so it's not as bad, so maybe just a couple squirts of Windex on the old peepers instead?
The core plot is an interesting enough divergence from the previous two films, so I have to give them credit for doing something new. Essentially after *another* kaiju invasion (specifically in Australia this time), a pair of children are left by their Jaeger driving parents in a safe haven as most of the continent is destroyed. Years pass and the kids end up going on a journey to find their parents and what lies beyond the post-apocalyptic wasteland.
They find a generic but nicely colored (so I must now own the toy) training jaeger, so they must drift together, overcome their shortcomings (of which they have MANY), and survive against a massive jaeger killer named Copperhead.
The two main protagonists, Taylor and Hayley, are fairly obnoxious for me and I never quite glommed onto them as characters to care about. I will say that I appreciate that their immaturity and idiocy have fatal repercussions and the show sticks the landing on handling how their actions have consequences and the brutality in which they learn that lesson. And maybe that's just spiteful of me, but if I have to sit through 3D CG then I'm glad these characters get to be miserable as well.
I tended to be more interested in the supporting cast of characters as they dealt with the seedy side of a post kaiju apocalypse. There's also a lot of supportive world building that I can appreciate that stems from this exploration, as for example finding drift compatible pilots is a true rarity and that force drifting with others too many times can cause seizures or worse. They deal with solo-drifting, drifting used as an interrogation method, kaiju-jaeger hybrids, and more. Tackling older ideas in new ways is what saves a lot of the series, and does make it worth watching.
If you're a Pacific Rim fan, then you're probably like me and you'll watch this regardless. Such was the strength of the first film in that it created such an engaging world that we get excited at any hint of revisiting it. And if you're not a snob like me (I really wished this was in Japanese because I utterly hate English anime) it won't be as difficult to take the 3D CG pill and just accept it for what it is and have fun. And there is fun to be had so it's worth checking it out, regardless of my bitching.
But seriously, give me more kaiju of varying design elements please.