So, like Prometheus, Pacific Rim is a science fiction movie by a director known for his visual style and attention to visual details, and like Prometheus it suffers from a script not overly burden by internal story logic. So why have I gone to see Pacific Rim twice in the theater, and yet can’t bring myself to watch Prometheus again?
Because Pacific Rim is FUN.
Prometheus told a lot of its story visually, and if you weren’t watching and just trying to follow the spoken words, it made even less sense. Pacific Rim has that in spades, and it works a little better because there’s less story to follow. In Prometheus, there are metric fucktons of levels of “The Engineers came before us and they might be trying to undo us, so should we fight them? Can we?” In Pacific Rim it’s an intro voiceover and a single line later: “The kaiju were here before us, now they are back, and we are going to kick their asses.”
Both had the wrong protagonist, though. Prometheus really should have focused on David and Pacific Rim should have focused on Mako.
Ultimately, Prometheus was an auteur’s dialog with another auteur, and an existential philosophy piece, and an attempt to create a creation myth for another story cycle. Pacific Rim is a fanboy’s tribute to awful rubber-suit genre movies. It’s not emo, it’s not trying to deal with an important theme. It’s Dance Dance Revolution meets Real Steel. With a sprinkling of the Cthulhu Mythos.
And I am a SUCKER for Cthulhu Mythos nods. I mean, Chuck Hanson even mispronounces Raleigh’s name “R’yleh” several times! The breech is deep in the center of the Pacific, where R’yleh is, and the End Boss, the Category 5 kaiju, is exactly an Elder Thing except with muscular arms. Del Toro updated Lovecraft, or riffed on him in a modern genre; as my friend Fran pointed out, it’s pretty much Charles Stross’ take on the Mythos, although the kaiju aren’t interested in any stinkin’ Benthic Treaty. (Her blog on the movie is about what cheesy stereotypes the scientists are; not at all Lovecraft’s dread-ridden antiquarians.)
There were other fun easter eggs as well – the Russian jaeger being made from (and named for I assume) the A cooling tower of Chernobyl. A jaeger pilot named Chuck (Chuck Jaeger). A few Top Gun references that I hope were on purpose. A flyover in lieu of kissing (THANK GOD FOR NO KISSING). And a nod to Del Toro’s brief stint on The Hobbit as Gandalf Quest-Giver Pentecost gets the Reluctant Hero Becket on his way, staged at a moss-and-corrosion section of a pipe fitting that recalls Bilbo’s front porch perfectly.