Viking Night: Pacific Rim
By Bruce Hall
May 26, 2015
As with all the best mecha, the machines are meant to be projections of the people piloting them. And Pacific Rim is a pretty damn good piece of mecha. However corny the dialog and bombastic the characters, these are strengths in light of the fact that this is actually a straightforward giant robot story where the machines are more or less dramatic extensions of the people inside them. On the surface, it’s about humanity overcoming petty differences to join as one and fight a common foe. Underneath, it’s really about a bunch of dysfunctional hotshot pilots overcoming petty differences to join as one and fight a common foe.
That’s right. I just described Top Gun with giant robots. If you’re not already weeping tears of joy, I have no idea where or when you lost the ability to feel.
The “common foe” happens to be a race of glow-in-the-dark space lizards called Kaiju that keep spurting from an interdimensional rift at the bottom of the ocean. They're flattening coastal cities around the world and overwhelming global defenses. Humanity finds itself on the ropes, as the planet just can't stop vomiting Godzillas. They eat buildings, swat planes out of the air like gnats and bleed toxic, earth destroying waste that takes decades to clean up. The most distinctive thing about them is that they glow all sorts of weird neon colors and they each have very specific physical abilities.
If you’re having trouble visualizing that, just imagine someone put Godzilla inside the computer from Tron, let him train with Evander Holyfield, cloned him 20 times and set him loose in Hong Kong. Yeah. It’s like that.
As a last resort, the world combines its resources to construct a fleet of giant robots called “Jaegers”, equal in size to the Kaiju. Each nation’s mech has a distinctive name, and is (sometimes stereotypically) reminiscent of their culture. For example, the Chinese machine is called Crimson Typhoon and is piloted by three brothers who look like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s love children. The Russian creation is Cherno Alpha, piloted by a pair of bleached blond cosmonauts who look tough enough to survive a steady diet of diet of brutal winters and pickled herring. Striker Eureka is the Australian machine, piloted by Hercules Hansen (Max Martini) and his son Chuck (Robert Kazinsky). Gipsy Danger is the American contribution, initially helmed by hotheaded brothers Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy Becket (Diego Klattentoff).
At first, the Jaegers kick all kinds of Kaiju ass, and the world is saved. And then...it’s not.
Here’s the problem. Anyone who knows anything about giant fighting robots knows it takes at least two pilots to control one (right?). And of course, the neural interface used to maneuver the machine means that the consciousness of everyone on board is linked together (duh). In other words, imagine yourself calling a taxi cab for a ride. As soon as you get in the car, you have to share your thoughts and memories with the driver. And no, I am not referring to the annoying way some people can never shut the hell up and stop talking. I mean you literally have to share a brain, or the car won’t work. Not only would more people start walking, but there would also be no more taxi cabs, on account of all the murders. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the last place you want to be is inside my head.