Twenty minutes into Pacific Rim I thought, Guillermo del Toro gave up The Hobbit for this? And that was before the forced melodrama and unspeakably bad acting in the final act. Heartbreaking, really, because I love a good science fiction flick. Unfortunately they’re few and far between. The trailers often look good, don’t they? Good enough to fork out 10 bucks for the incredibly stupid Looper, or that bucket of diarrhea known as Prometheus, a film so gutted with inconsistencies and lapses in logic that it’s hard not to conclude that Ridley Scott made it for the sole purpose of testing the intelligence of critics. (Given its 74% score on the Tomatometer, I’d say 74% of critics failed the test.)
But it’s not the quality of Pacific Rim I want to rag on. It’s certainly better than the latest Tom Cruise vehicle, or the most recent pathetic attempt of Will Smith to turn his dopey kids into movie stars. It’s the whole “aliens invade earth scenario.” In Pacific Rim, giant lizardy things, the foot soldiers of smaller lizardy things, travel from their planet to Earth through some kind of vortex in the Pacific Ocean. They had tried to use the vortex millions of years earlier, but the atmosphere on our planet wasn’t right; humans had to first pollute the air sufficiently. Why they need to colonize Earth is never revealed. Through an idiotic mind meld, humanity only knows that the invaders want to colonize. Is the lizard home world overpopulated? Used up? Didn’t the lizards figure out how to solve whatever problem they had over the millions of years between 1st and 2nd contact? Who knows. It’s very rare for a filmmaker to supply a reasonable and logical explanation for alien invasion. The aliens usually just want our stuff. In Independence Day, for example, the aliens burn through a massive amount of fossil fuel to get a fleet of ginormous ships millions of light years to Earth, bypassing all the good stuff on the other planets and in our solar system’s meteor belt, and then expend a shitload of more resources blowing up Earth’s buildings in spectacular fashion, only because they want our pathetically small bit of resources, which probably couldn’t fuel even one bad-ass space cruiser… Perhaps Del Toro’s lizards want beach front property in Florida, because the price of real estate on the lizard home world is just ghastly. Despite technical superiority, invading aliens are usually stupid, parasitic, and lacking a moral compass. Human beings, of course, are the exact opposite. That’s why they always win. Aliens don’t need motivation for their actions. They appear in our skies only to reveal the superiority of human beings. Nothing significant is revealed about humanity in Pacific Rim. There’s no moral quandary, like we see in the superior fare District 9. Like Independence Day, Pacific Rim is just one big circle jerk.
Actually, Pacific Rim might be even more insidious than Independence Day…Del Toro’s humans fight the giant lizards in giant robots manned by two pilots. The most awesome pilots? Let’s see: we have Americans, Russians, the Chinese and Australians. These are the Earth’s saviors. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that in that quartet we have some of the Modern Age’s most brutal, most notorious colonizers…Might makes right. The best come out on top. Del Toro’s robot pilots are (at least ultimately) super smart, super selfless, and super moral. Ah. That’s how we beat back future invasions. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond sets out to answer the question, “Why did the Spaniards conquer the Incas instead of the other way around?” He ultimately concludes that the Incas, like the rest of America’s natives, as well as the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, were the victims of an unfortunate geography. They were no more dumb, immoral or greedy than their colonizers. Kind of like the Earthlings in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when their planet is atomized to make way for a Galactic Highway. But alas, more people will watch Pacific Rim than read Jared Diamond. So to the remaining Native Americans, Australian Aboriginals, Tibetans, and various peoples of the formal Soviet Bloc, take a hint from Uncle Del Toro: you lost, you pussies, because you were stupid, greedy and lacked a moral compass. But don’t worry: when the aliens land, us winners will have your back.