Here’s what bothers me about this movie. Director Guillermo del Toro gets all this praise (Pan’s Labyrinth was interesting, but Hellboy II kinda sucked)…and he really just made a movie that was Transformers fighting Godzilla. You’ll see elements of Independence Day, Power Rangers, Iron Man, Bloodsport, Top Gun…and did I mention Transformers?
The Comic Con crowd is going to love this movie, but aside from the stunning visuals and special effects, it’s poorly done.
The humans are uniting against the Kaiju monsters that are invading from a portal in the ocean floor. The only thing that stops them were the Jaegar robots humans have built. They’re controlled by two pilots, in one of the few interesting aspects of the film. They have to create a neural handshake – a drift – where they combine their brains, memories, fighting skills, everything. Memories that are particularly powerful to you need to be put aside while in combat, or they can muck things up. That interesting aspect of the movie was underused.
The characters weren’t all that interesting, either. They were all one-dimensional clichés we’ve seen before. Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus), has a great presence on screen, yet he was playing the Lou Gossett, Jr. drill sergeant from An Officer and a Gentleman.
Charlie Hunnam was the eye candy, who often forgot where he left his shirt. As the American pilot and hero, he was playing a combination of Val Kilmer/Tom Cruise from Top Gun. I’m also curious as to why they went the goofy route they did with the various fighters. Hunnam is the blonde, all-American – who is a bit of a loose canon. The Russians always have scowls on their faces, and look like they’re preparing for a fight against Rocky. I’m surprised they had the Japanese team playing basketball instead of sumo wrestling in the break room. You realize just how much they’ve underdeveloped these characters when a few of them die (any guesses as to which ones?). We really don’t care. It’s like this movie was geared towards 13-year-olds that are just waiting for the next robot to fight the next monster.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t sometimes revert back to that 13-year-old, as I watched a few cool fights. There’s nothing like seeing blue goo squirting out of the severed limb of some huge reptile in the ocean. Although you’re left wondering – if they spent almost $200 million creating such stunning special effects, why are there times during the battles when we can’t really tell what’s going on?
Ron Perlman brings his Hellboy swagger to the role of a guy selling alien parts on the black market. He’s a bit of fun when he’s on the screen.
Character actor Clifton Collins, Jr. is okay as a sort of air-traffic controller, but Charlie Day helped ruin the film. He’s one of two wacky scientists. His voice is great for comedic roles (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses). In this, he’s like Rick Moranis on acid, with a touch of Bobcat Goldthwait. His scientist partner Gottleib (Bum Gorman) has a weird limp and accent, and the way they both ham things up is just goofy. It’s also not fitting of a setting where humans are on the verge of being eradicated from the planet.
The person I was sitting next to complained about the bad accents (I only noticed the Australian one being a bit weak). I was more concerned with the clichéd and bad dialogue that writer Travis Beachem (Clash of the Titans) and del Toro gave us. Not to mention my pet peeve #76 – when the dialogue tells us what characters are feeling, instead of letting them convey that with their actions.
There’s absolutely no chemistry between Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, although she does have an interesting backstory.
The predictability of the story wasn’t what bothered me. My favorite movie of the year is The Way, Way Back. I doubt anybody will see that and be completely surprised by everything happening. I just expected del Toro to give us something smarter than the Transformers films – not just his version of one.
When I was watching the loud and endless fight scene in the last Transformers, or The Avengers – and even Man of Steel last month – I thought of how there are certain things that we don’t need to see over and over. In this movie, it was the huge waves, countless office buildings destroyed, and the various car alarms going off. We get it. If a huge reptilian tail smashes into a car, the alarm will go off. That might’ve gotten a chuckle out of me in 1992.
That being said, I’m sure most people are going to enjoy this. It’s an homage to those old school monster movies that del Toro is a fan of.
I can only give it 2 stars out of 5, though.