The film doesn’t waste a great deal of time with back story or exposition but there is never a point where the audience doesn’t know precisely what is going on and what is going on is the standard monster movie stuff. Monsters are trying to destroy humanity, humans fight back, things go wrong (damn politicians!) and then there is a desperate situation where heroism on a grand scale is required. There is even a whiff of Godzilla-like “We caused this” in the movie (but just a whiff).
Pacific Rim just does it well.
For one, you always know who the good guys are. It isn’t like any of the Transformers movies where there is a BLUR of robots smashing into each other. The action is clear and, since it we know the robots are good and the monsters are bad? It is easy to follow the action. There is a ton of action too.
One of the ways other films fail is that they rely on “actors” who just look good with their shirts off or who are deemed bankable (and often phone in a 15 minute performance). There is no doubt Pacific Rim was not created to break new ground. It was not created to be a profound life-changing movie (unless you are an 11 year old boy). But it was made professionally with a certain, dare I write it, respect for the audience. The filmmakers here do not assume we are morons because we came to see their movie. That is another reason why it succeeds.
While Godzilla may be this movie’s great grandparent the plot is basically the same as Independence Day but with the jingoism and speechifying dialed way down. This isn’t disrespect to either movie, both do precisely what they intend and they do it well. Aliens threaten and human beings come together to thwart them. There is something positive in that, something that resonates, with us bipeds.
The best of these films also are parables about how we are stewards of the world. These movies seem to need that. The monsters cannot attack us for no reason. We always bear a little responsibility in these movies; pollution, nuclear testing or just secretive politicians. The monsters come in through the crack we leave in the door.
Pacific Rim may not break new ground but it is entertaining and diverting. Also, Charlie from Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia is in it. How could it be bad?