Mixed Bag - Noun - something that has both good and bad qualities or parts.
Pacific Rim is equal parts fun and awful. The highlights are delightful, but the bad parts are astoundingly terrible. There are immeasurable problems with this film, but there are an almost equal amount of noteworthy cinema. Pacific Rim could make for an ideal night with friends, when you can all laugh and enjoy the good with the bad. But as a viewing experience judged on its own terms, it's lacking.
Gigantic monsters called Kaijus are rising out of the ocean. And what are we going to do? Release the transformers! Or more specifically, Jaegers: giant robots that are controlled from within by two human pilots. Unfortunately, the Kaijus are increasing in number, and the Jaegers have been dismissed as too risky and too dangerous. However, Jaeger commander Stacker Pentecost is convinced that they can end the Kaiju outbreak by using the Jaegers to plant a nuclear bomb in the portal from which the Kaijus are spawning. In desperate need of capable pilots, Stacker contacts former pilot Raleigh Becket to assist him. Also, lots of backstories.
So let's get (at least some of) the bad out of the way first. There are a lot of laughably bad moments (on account of poor writing, poor acting, etc.). Also, there are a lot of bits where the characters lips don't match what they're saying, and they are always distracting. And the occasionally weak editing resulted in inconsistencies between shots.
But the editing isn't the only thing that's inconsistent. All of the technology involving the Jaeger is confusing, and some of its capabilities aren't clear. As a result, the film seems to contradict itself as suddenly new concepts are conveniently revealed in life-or-death situations.
The film is structured bizarrely. There's a quick beginning, a quick middle, a long end, and another middle, and a short end. Needless to say, the pacing is everywhere. And somewhere along the line, at least 20 minutes of this film must have been cut out, as significant problems are resolved in seconds, but never are these resolutions explained.
Almost all of the characters are incredibly boring. They're stuffed with backstories in a desperate attempt to get the audience to cling to these bland characters. Instead, these backstories only create unnecessary exposition, and barely impact the story at all.
But what this film gets right, is sublime. While the characters are mostly lifeless, there are 3 supporting characters that are almost enough fun to make this film worth watching. Dr. Newton Geiszler and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb are two doctors with opposite personalities (Newton, a bit fun loving, while Gottlieb is more stuck-up) forced to work in the same division. They are an absolute riot (even though they share far less scenes than one might expect), and their scenes are the highlight of the film. Along with them, there is the villainous (though not the antagonist) Hannibal Chau, who is hilariously over-the-top and his scenes are equally memorable to Newton's and Gottlieb's.
And, of course, the visuals are superb. The designs for the Kaijus are nothing short of incredible. They're unique, and frightening, and the Jaegers look impressive too. The fight sequences themselves are dazzling, but they also lack tension (likely a result of the slow-moving nature of both sides).
Charlie Hunnam, playing the lead, Raleigh Becket, is absolutely terrible. It is clear that Hunnam was not cast based on acting ability, but rather, how he looks without his shirt on. Rinko Kukuchi as the love interest, Mako Mori, is equally weak. Both of these performances are laughable, though the third lead, Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost manages to escape mostly unscathed. Mana Ashida, who has a small role as young Mako Mori, provides a more compelling performance than almost the entire cast.
Charlie Day is delightful as Dr. Newton, and he gets to display a surprising amount of range in this role. His counterpart, Dr. Gottlieb is also excellent, and very funny. Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau also supplies a substantial amount of laughs.
The score, composed by Ramin Djawadi, benefits from a strong (if hugely overused) main theme. Unfortunately, far too often, the electric guitar rears it ugly head, causing it to leave a more sour impression then it might have otherwise. Also, the horn of doom is used in an early sequence.
While there are moments of genuine fun, Pacific Rim gets too involved in tedious backstories and a lot of laughably terrible bits. The potential for a great film is absolutely there, but mostly poor acting, and a generally weak script bog this movie down. It's such a shame, because the highlights alone almost make this film worth watching. But how, in good conscience, can I recommend a movie that, at times, reaches almost unfathomable lows? I truly have no choice, for in spite of how good parts of this movie is, there is simply too much awful for one 2 hour film.