Hadn’t actually gone out to a movie in a theater for a long time. Then I kept hearing kind words on this one from smart people with good taste. We sat a little too close to the really-big really-loud screen and still walked away smiling, albeit with mild headaches.
I think this movie did a lot of things right and not much wrong. Yeah, it’s one of those movies about giant robots battling it out with giant reptilian aliens, and I recognize that some people won’t be OK with that, but if you are, this is a really good one of those.
What I Liked ·
No product placements!
I’m pretty well meh on 3D, but when the characters dropped into Japanese for a few lines, they had these silly subtitles projecting like 8 feet in front of the action, which I found giggly and effective.
Yeah, the robots were cool and the Kaiju were (not quite as) cool, but the architectures were mega-cool, the under-construction Alaska Wall and the Hong Kong buttresses and Shatterdome too.
As anyone who’s seen a few of my photos knows, I’m a sucker for a stupidly-oversaturated color palette and, well, yeah.
The movie is never ironic. It’s sometimes enjoyably ridiculous (like whenever Hannibal Chau gets in the frame) but nobody on the screen is less than 100% committed to the narrative.
Did I mention Hannibal Chau? And his monster-parts-vending inner sanctum?
A lot of the action involves giant critters (good and bad) surging through water at various depths. It wasn’t till I read the Wikipedia article that I realized that the water was all CGI. Like, the best CGI ever. Yow.
First you inflate the monster’s carcass with CO2, then of course you walk around inside it in silly biospelunking suits, them of course you hear a heartbeat. What’s not to like?
There were a lot of Jaeger-vs-Kaiju battles, but the one in Hong Kong was pretty special. I mean, really.
Oops, I don’t seem to have mentioned the subtextual thematics or the arc of character development or the texture of the narrative fabric. I must be a philistine.
What I Didn’t Like ·
3D. I may revise this opinion after eventually renting a version to watch in 2D on our pretty-good home screen. Especially if it includes some of the hour or so Guillermo del Toro apparently cut out because “We cannot pretend this is Ibsen with monsters and giant robots. I cannot pretend I'm doing a profound reflection on mankind.”
The blue glowy bits on the Keiju. I understand they needed something to make them more than dark shapes, but they looked like blue LEDs.
A few surprising steps outside the standard creature-feature narrative would have been nice. I’m not saying it wasn’t done well, just that there might have been more there with a couple twists of the steering wheel.
Bleeding from the nose. It either means you’re dying of radiation exposure or you’re mind-melding with a robot or an alien.
It’s Not Just Me · Reviews are pretty good. And notable future-is-unevenly-distributed author William Gibson was moved to words online beginning “A ravishing display of intelligent, often wonderfully witty visual design, every frame alive with coherent language, in the service of what is at heart a children's story.”
Should You See It? · A pretty-easy decision: It’s basically giant robots fighting vicious aliens, really well done. You shouldn’t have to work too hard to figure out whether that has a chance with you.