My son and I went to see Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim when it was released two summers ago, and, like many, we left the theater disappointed. We had entered with high expectations of a modern Godzilla-type movie and walked out let down. As a both a fan of Toho's Godzilla movies in youth and a parent who had shared these beloved films with his son, I was hoping for a theatrical experience over which to bond. In retrospect, much of our criticism lay with the performance of the male lead as well as the difficulty in processing the multiple visual and sound stimuli being thrown at us.
This past Monday our school had a snow day, and I took advantage of the morning to re-watch Pacific Rim. The original from 1954 and the most recent American adaptation, Godzilla (2014), not withstanding, Godzilla films have never really been about serious actors and serious issues. My Godzilla was the ping-pong ball-eyed hero of Japan (1973's Godzilla vs. Megalon will always be my personal gold standard) who regularly bonded with orphans and latch-key kids while battling an assortment of mutated animals, aliens and pollutants. While the too-serious Godzilla (2014) definitely forgot that (as well as the epic battles), my hazy recollection of Pacific Rim was that it had been less about serious issues and more about simple, giant monsters and robots fighting.
|My Godzilla, circa 1974.|
I would also suggests that the story itself is far more ambitious than given credit. Rather than setting his "giant monster movie" within an easily recognizable world, del Toro and credited co-writer Travis Beachum opt to create a modern, post-origin world already effected by the emergence of its primary threat. While Godzilla did indeed battle aliens from Planet X very early in his filmography, the primary settings always represented a presented day Japan aesthetic (Godzilla Final Wars being the most obvious departure with it's airborne battle ships and G-Force).
The bottom line: Pacific Rim is much more entertaining than I originally gave it credit for and is that unique movie that improves with repeated viewings... at least to this old school kaiju fan.