I knew that Pacific Rim would give me giant robots fighting giant monsters in exciting and visually-impressive ways. And it did. But somehow I got the impression that it strongly subverted the lone white male American hero thing. And while it does make some efforts in that direction, I was disappointed by the extent to which it was still about white dudes.
I think I'm getting grumpier about it the more I see people squee over it, actually; the initial reaction gave me expectations that were not fulfilled, and now I want to yell at these darn kids to stop being excited over half a loaf and get off my lawn, already . . .
Anyway. Some non-spoiler things I can say up front:
The American giant robot is named Gipsy Danger. No, really.
There is a guy who handles communication with the giant robots; I never got his name during the movie, but it's Tendo Choi. He is played by a Latino actor, Clifton Collins Jr. (There is also a guy named Hannibal Chau; he is played by a white actor, Ron Perlman, but that character straight-up says he appropriated the name; he is a jerk and I am perfectly happy with him not being played by an actor of Asian ancestry, which is not to say that I excuse the movie for the rest of its casting.)
There is a giant robot team from China and one from Russia. They can't have more than five lines of dialogue between them.
Finally, not that I consider this of the same magnitude, but it is of a type: the Australian team is played by non-Australians.
Yes, the characters played by Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi are awesome. But, well:
I think there is a perfectly good argument to be made that Mako Mori (Kikuchi's character) and Stacker Pentocost (Elba's character), together and apart, are the center of the movie. But I also think that that the movie undercuts that by the screentime it assigns and the end of the last big action piece.
Which is to say: there is a LOT of screentime devoted to dudes arguing over Mako's life. For instance, there is the very eyeroll-worthy hallway fight between Raleigh and what's-his-face, the boy with daddy issues (I remembered four people's names when I walked out of the movie, Mako, Raleigh, Stacker, and Hannibal), over Mako's "honor" . . . in which there is not a single shot of Mako's reaction. The movie literally does not care what she thinks about this violence allegedly in her name. Add in the ongoing conflict between Raleigh and Stacker over whether Mako can be Raleigh's co-pilot, and it starts to undermine Mako's agency, as shown in the (excellent) moment when she tells Raleigh that she's acting out of respect, not obedience.
Then the end, when she's the one who suddenly runs out of oxygen and he sends her off to the surface, unconscious, to keep her safe. I realize that applying logic to this kind of movie is futile in some sense—do not think hard about the whole thing with the bomb or the reactor meltdown, let alone how the EMP doesn't take out their giant robot, or . . . just nothing about anything science or engineering, basically. But first, she's the one who's rebuilt the sucker, she knows all its new tricks (surprise sword, very anime!), so if we're going to throw in an unnecessary last-minute scramble around the interior, she's the one who ought to do it, or at least she ought to be there to HELP. Which leads to, second, the whole thing about teamwork and cooperation implicit in the two-pilot system and the gestures at internationality? Has just been ejected along with her.
(Also that suddenly brings Raleigh's brother-angst to the forefront, where it had hardly been an arc at all during the rest of the movie, which was fine with me, honestly. I liked him being excited at how awesome Mako was, and actually thought they were kind of cute together, no matter how you interpreted their relationship, but otherwise, not that interesting.)
As for Stacker Pentecost (that name!), it is true that he, the black guy, dies at the end. This did not actually bother me, though it is perfectly fair if it bothers other people. For me, he seemed so well-realized (okay, by the standards of the characters around him), that it didn't feel like a descent into cliche, it felt like just a character arc. (The white guy sacrificing himself along with him probably doesn't hurt in this regard either.)
Finally, as I suggested above the jump, the whole "international cooperation" angle was really undercut for me by the Chinese and Russian teams getting so little screen time and dying right away. Why couldn't one of them have been the other surviving team, instead of the Aussies?
Anyway. AO3 is down right now, but here are some fic links that I clipped into Evernote:
Three Golden Bulls Worth by miikkaa_xx. Backstory for the Wei Tang triplets. Teen and up, 2988 words, references to suicide. (Note: I am not in a position to judge the research that went into this story.)
those who run with wolves by epistolic. Backstory for the Kaidanovskys. Mature, 4336 words, no content notes. (This one either, for that matter.)
Adrift by newsbypostcard. A Jaeger team of original female characters. Teen and up, 2149 words, graphic depictions of violence, major character death.
What is Built Endures by thrace. Mako character study and backstory; SPOILERS. General audiences, 1338 words, author chose not to use archive warnings.
And one with a spoilery description:
Reconstruction Site by disco_vendetta (brinn). Basically just a whole lot of Raleigh delighting in how awesome Mako is, afterward, with lots of domesticity and Mako being in charge. (Note: presumes that co-pilots have a psychic connection that Drift amplifies but that is present without it.) Teen and up, 8320 words, author chose not to use archive warnings (but I didn't see anything I'd warn for).
Edit: I forgot to talk about the trailers!
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