So There’s a Scene During the “Pacific Rim” End Credits

Gipsy Danger, Pacific Rim

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Pacific Rim the Best Men’s-Adventure Film of the Year!

So far, anyway. I’ll admit my opinion is skewed because I don’t watch every theatrical release. I certainly didn’t see 6 Fast 6 Furious, which might or might not be a five-star men’s-adventure flick for all I know, but the 6F6F trailers showed a sign of weakness: two female characters sharing a scene, even though it was a scene of angry pummeling. Not counting extras or one-line background fillers, I counted four female characters in all of Pacific Rim: two robot drivers; one of those drivers as a young girl; and, with 95% certainty, at least one of the monsters. None are onscreen at the same time, spaced apart by several men and minutes, just as you’d expect from an awesome boys-club tale of manly-man heroics.

Make no mistake: despite scoring a zero on the Bechdel Test, Guillermo Del Toro’s eleventy-billion-dollar fan letter to Japanese pop-SF scored all the points that mattered to the twelve-year-old inside me. The robots and monsters displayed evidence of unique design work instead of distractingly specific homages. The first hour allows us time to meet the characters, even if most of them bear superficial complications. The older, nitpicky side of my brain only pinged twice instead of ringing off the hook, as it did during some of this year’s other roller-coaster rides.

Best of all, those twenty-story-tall monstrosities have weight. In the average giant-sized clobberfest, the combatants loom like skyscrapers but flit, weave, scamper, or slither with the deftness of five-foot-tall acrobats. Here, the greatest accomplishment of Del Toro’s sound/visual tag-teams is that, when those cataclysmic fight scenes are in motion, you can feel those 250-ton irresistible forces and immovable objects slowly shifting, straining mightily to move, and heaving great damage and furious physics at each other. Not once was I shaken out of the movie by the snarky sensation that I was watching kids slamming their action figures together. This, says me-at-12, is how it should be.

Adults in the audience who keep a strict stranglehold on those inner voices aren’t without a plot to observe and a Moral of the Story to discern. We’re in a world where the ocean floor keeps birthing monsters that make a beeline for every major city bordering the Pacific and tear them to shreds one by one. Mankind quickly stops wasting its time on slow-acting conventional forces and invents super-robots to fight back. (Though Tokyo is naturally included, it only appears in one flashback. It’s refreshing — if, y’know, terrifying in a movie kind of way — to see or hear about the monsters selecting other targets such as Hong Kong, Seattle, and Vladivostok. The kaiju here are far more cosmopolitan than their uncouth Toho forefathers.) Manning those super-robots isn’t as simple here as anime would have you believe; because a single human mind is too tiny to thought-control an anthropomorphic skyscraper alone, the process requires two drivers to mind-meld and function as one (ten stories per human brain is fine, apparently) if only they can overcome their differences, ignore their traumas, and learn that Teamwork Rules.

The spirit of international cooperation is key to the entire film. After an extended prologue of major tragedy followed by a time-jump that sees Earth’s giant-robot program moments away from being decommissioned, the present-day giant-robot population is down to four: Australia’s Striker Eureka; China’s Crimson Typhoon (manned by triplets and sporting a crazy third arm); Russia’s ugly, buttress-faced Cherno Alpha; and America’s Gipsy Danger, shaped like a football star and ready to rock. Under the circumstances, the world’s nations must get along if they’re to survive the mega-monster onslaught. (In a fitting touch of real-life bureaucratic denial, our robot heroes are in danger of being phased out and replaced by really, really, really tall walls facing the ocean. Around every coastal city. This is their Plan B. The notion is absurd to anyone who’s ever watched a film, and yet I can seriously imagine some of our quote-unquote “leaders” high-fiving themselves for supporting such brainless cost-effective non-solutions to today’s non-fiction issues.)

With a movie that’s 90% monsters-fight and 10% parable, the cast ends up caught in the middle. As our main robot-drivin’ man Becket, Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam is believable as a grim young hero, whereas his partner Mako (Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi from Babel) steals the emotional spotlight as a young scientist struggling to balance the needs of the job with her deep-seated craving for vengeance. Trumping both of them is The Wire‘s Idris Elba as the gruff commanding officer with his dark past and unspoken secrets. Always the unlikely charmer in everything I’ve seen of his to date, I amused myself by pretending he was Pacific Rim‘s real main character. Your mandatory comic relief is provided courtesy the odd-couple science advisers played by British actor Burn Gorman (playing a wacky German) and America’s own Charlie Day (plain wacky, voice cranked up an excruciatingly panicky octave).

I can imagine why Pacific Rim isn’t for everyone, though I cringe every time I’m reminded that it was bested at the U.S. box office by Grown Ups 2, which I have a hard time accepting is fit for anyone. For what it’s worth, my own expectations were triumphantly defied, and I felt sufficiently vindicated after being subjected to a week’s worth of random unfunny internet snipes that wouldn’t stop drawing dimwitted comparisons to the Transformers series. (Because hey, all them robots is totally alike, am I right? OH HO HO HO HO shut up, commoners.)

To answer the burning question that MCC is always happy to verify: no, there’s no scene after the Pacific Rim end credits, but if you’re one of those credits-haters who sprinted for the exits as soon as “DIRECTED BY GUILLERMO DEL TORO” flashed onscreen, then you missed a quick epilogue spliced between the Imaginary Forces cast credits and the ordinary end credits. (About which: I did note that the storyboard artists included comics artists Francisco Ruiz Velasco and Sandman Mystery Theatre‘s Guy Davis, and the concept artists included SF illustrator Wayne Barlowe. For value-added name-dropping pleasure, Del Toro’s special-thanks list includes the likes of James Cameron, David Cronenberg, and his director friends Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. So there’s all that.)

For those who fled the theater prematurely and really want to know what scene they missed…

[insert space for courtesy mild spoiler alert in case anyone needs to abandon ship]

…an irate Ron Perlman slices his way out of a kaiju fetus stomach. And he wants his other shoe back now.

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