So it seems I will be returning to work for the dog days of August. After numerous casual meetings, formal interviews and agonies trying to select outfits I could bear to wear in the July heat, I’ve been offered an appealing consultancy contract with a well-respected design company.
The members of the management team who I have met to date have an appealing blend of grown-up qualities, expertise, and a childlike glee in their enthusiasms, which is how we finished my interview getting excited about Pacific Rim (much to the Finance Director’s disgust) as I was off to see it directly afterwards.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I loved it. After a little reflection (initial response: WHEEEEEE! WOOOOOOO! WHEEEEEEE! Also giggling and wearing the sort of enormous grin on your face that gives other people on public transport the wrong idea about what you may have been up to) I’m putting it into the same space as Super 8, which evoked a similarly childish glee (unlike Super 8, it didn’t make me cry).
In the case of Pacific Rim, this is because it resembles the better Saturday morning cartoons of my childhood. I knew about 5 minutes in, long before the title appeared, that it was going to have to seriously derail for my cynicism filters to kick in as they’d been bullied out of my head by the excited small girl who had taken possession. The elevator pitch is Godzilla vs Real Steel – I think the human element in the mechas makes this a better comparison than Transformers, and it similarly captures the entirely predictable, child-friendly, WWF-soundtracked and charismatic nonsense that made Real Steel far more fun than it had any right to be. In place of Hugh Jackman, you get Charlie Hunnam, who I didn’t know and who turns out to be much better than I feared (turns out he’s a versatile Geordie with great designer stubble whose range covers Queer as Folk to Sons of Anarchy) and the irresistible Idris Elba. There’s a scene where they face off where the amount of manliness on screen is utterly insane.
Sure, there’s plenty of things to poke holes in (surprise!) and a fair few things to get annoyed about in terms of decent representation (fail score includes: women; foreigners; scientists), but frankly the sheer of level of over the top shininess blew it all away. I’m really glad I saw it on a screen so big that I couldn’t tell what was going on in places or judge the CGI (that’s not true: even at the BFI IMAX, bad CGI is bad, so this is pretty good).
Here’s the clue: if you saw the trailer and you the “cancelling the Apocalypse” speech was a bit OTT, don’t see it. If you think a plot synopsis could contain spoilers, don’t see it (you should be able to accurately call it out at every point. Hint: it starts with 2 brothers with authority issues who are piloting man’s last best hope against alien invasion). If you are expecting characterisation rather than Saturday morning stereotypes, don’t see it. If the idea of Ron Perlman in gold-plated snakeskin shoes doesn’t make you giggle? Don’t see it.
As for me, Superman, Wolverine, and possibly even Tony Stark eat your heart out. Your mileage may vary.