I am hyped about Pacific Rim.
It’s not just because it’s a giant monster (aka kaiju) movie.
It’s not because it’s an original story, not based on any established property.
And it’s not just because it’s a giant monster (aka kaiju) movie. (Yes, I mentioned that twice because it is worth mentioning twice.)
It’s not JUST because of those things, though those things are a very important part of why I’m looking forward to this film. But putting all that aside, there’s one essential reason why I’m looking forward to this movie.
It looks unapologetically awesome.
I’ve written before that what I dislike most about fantasy and sci fi is how often its creators and fans feel the need to apologize for it. It’s assumed that unless fantasy is “serious”, it must be “kid’s stuff”. It’s why something like A Game of Thrones achieves “maturity” by downplaying the fantasy elements, adding nudity and swearing. I’m not against what HBO has done for fantasy. By adding these elements, they’ve made the genre more acceptable for mainstream audiences, and good for them. I’m not going to argue with success.
I’m not out to pick any fights. I’m all for many brands of fantasy and sci fi, from hard science fiction to fantastic space opera to high fantasy and anything and everything in-between. Humans come in many varieties, have many tastes, and I won’t put down anyone’s taste if they don’t put down mine.
But damnit, I do love bold, in-your-face adventure. I love larger-than-life heroes, deadly villains, the End of the World, last-minute saves. I love giant robots, dragons, space vampires, wizard duels, etc. And while shades of gray can be interesting to explore, I don’t mind clear good guys / bad guys and inspiring heroics.
So many trailers for this Summer come across as a bummer to me. Every one of them has a somber monologue that drains all my enthusiasm. Star Trek: Into Darkness tells us that Captain Kirk needs to learn humility. (Isn’t his brashness what we love about the guy?) Man of Steel bemoans the loneliness and isolation of Superman. (Also, saddles him with a dark blue costume to make him appear more relatable.) We are constantly told that this is SERIOUS and DARK and certainly NOT KID’S STUFF.
But Pacific Rim goes the other way. Every trailer that comes along says “This is adventure!” This is a movie to cheer about. Idris Elba’s monologue is the counterpoint to every dreary summary. Pacific Rim is about hope, triumph, and heroism. It’s about saving the world, and doing so in style.
It’s not just a kaiju film. It’s a joyful, energetic celebration of everything I adore about “kid’s stuff” sci fi.
There’s no reason to assume that the movie will be dumb or underwritten. I have every reason to believe that the characters will be interesting and the storyline will be involving. But it will also be about giant robots punching megamonsters, and if the trailers are any indication, it’s not just one or two punches either.
In a world where, increasingly, we’re told that heroes are old-fashioned and adventure is a distraction from watching characters mope, Pacific Rim gives me hope. Maybe there’s still a place for giant robots and sincere heroism even in mainstream fantasy.
I sure as heck hope so.
Also, ROCKET PUNCH!