Pacific Rim vaults our 12-year old selves into two universes. It's a vigorous ride into the past -- and the future.
Once again we sit with our Raisinettes and Tootsie Rolls in front of the magical screen, awaiting adventure and excitement.
Pacific Rim is a watershed film -- not just because the film has deluges of watery mayhem.
It is made for a new and growing audience. Its target audience is international -- especially Asian -- and American audiences just may be along for the ride.
When we were twelve, probably American audiences still made up the majority of grosses for American movies. In 2013, they no longer do.
66% of the grosses for Iron Man 3 (2013) came from foreign markets. Only 33.6% were from the USA. Even a film such as Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) made 81% of its money at foreign box offices. Only 18.4% were domestic.
But don't worry too much -- American audiences still are proudly infantile. Opening weekend, Grown Ups 2 outgrossed (wonderful word) Pacific Rim. The latter grossed six million less than Grown Ups 2 domestically.
What contemporary American audiences probably don't realize is how many movies today are being made in America with the foreign audience uppermost in mind.
Let Americans have Grown Ups 2. The rest of the world will take almost everything else.
In many ways, Pacific Rim is a universal film. It is surprisingly fresh and vital. Granted, it has destruction galore -- which is patented for all films that have dreams of being blockbusters.
Where one shot may have sufficed in movies long ago, 1001 explosions are now essential.
Pacific Rim is another film of civilization being under attack. Earth is threatened with possible extinction by giant beasts -- Kaiju. Earth is dependent for survival on robots -- Jaegers.
But the Jaegers are deteriorating and are being phased out. The few that remain are collected in Hong Kong (of course) under the command of Marshal Stacker Pentecost (British actor Idris Elba).
Stacker says, "Today we are cancelling the Apocalypse."
The pilots must work in pairs. Ultimately Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi) are paired up to save the world.
Before that Raleigh and Mako compete against each other in Guerilla Jiu Jitsu. Not to say who won, but remember Pacific Rim is Asian-oriented.
That's also why the majority of the crowd in the film are Chinese. There are a few Americans at the forefront, but a multitude of Asians as background.
A key scene shows the terrifying memories of an Asian little girl.
The actors fortunately are the equal of the machines. Pacific Rim has character. Machines endure, but character prevails.
The cast is engaging. Idris Elba has convincing strength and gravitas as Stacker, the leader of the military operation.
Charlie Hunnam is effective as Raleigh. Max Martini also is convincing as an older pilot who no longer flies but has a son in the service.
Charlie Day provides sunny anxiety from Philadelphia as the antic scientist. Ron Perlman is saucy as black marketeer Hannibal Choi.
And Rinko Kikuchi shines as Mako.
Director Guillermo del Toro casts a winning spell with a light touch. He and fellow screenplay writer Travis Beacham keep a smile on our faces.
Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro adds to the spell by creating striking images. One of the most stunning is when a huge, monstrous Jaeger comes out of the ocean mist onto shore, as a child -- and us -- look up at him.
Mako is introduced evocatively framed by a large black umbrella. It is an exquisite image in a film of compelling images.
Pacific Rim made a lasting impression on me -- uniting personal past and the future.
I promise to see Pacific Rim 2 before Grown Ups 3. But that's just me.
Come to think of it -- it's most of the rest of the world.
For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).
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