04 September 2013

The Point When I Couldn't Look Away

I do apologize, but we’re going back into the realm of Pacific Rim today.  Again, not a review.  More like me trying to glean how this could have been a great story.

I’ll keep it short.

There is a woman in the story that desperately wants to be a pilot of the giant robots. The general (and pretty much her adopted father) won’t let her. The first time she gets the chance to pilot with our main character, they link their minds in the drift and we get to see why.

When she was a girl, one of the monsters attacked the city she lived in. Somewhere in Asia, can’t remember where exactly.  We enter the memory after she is alone and crying in the dusty streets, carrying one of her red shoes and wearing the other.

It’s kind of amazing how they make a giant monster invisible in the canyons of the city. The monster seems to be stalking this little girl, who screams and runs as fast as she can.  She makes a few turns and dives first into an alley then behind a dumpster.

The actress that played this little girl was amazing. She looked terrified—shaking and crying with a glimmer of hope in her eyes that the monster won’t find her.  Her gasping and holding onto her shoe had me squeezing my poor husband’s hand to death.  (Don’t worry, he can take it. I think.)

The tension in this scene was by far the best of the whole movie. And it didn't come until over half-way through.

Sure, there was plenty of suspense during the 2 ½ hours of fighting, but nothing like this—raw, emotional terror.

Right before the monster gets her, the general arrives in his robot and beats the crap out of the monster.  Her savior, and the reason she will do anything he asks of her.

And pretty much, she was the only person in the movie I cared about after that.  The general a little bit, because he was bad a**, but the main character didn't draw me in like this.

The thing is, he could have.  His brother died while their conscious’ were still linked. He felt his brother’s fear, pain and death.  If I’d gotten that, then I probably would have cared about him more. I may have been concerned when he went through the crack in the ocean floor.

Why? Because it was then personal. I understood why this girl wanted to fight so bad. Whereas the guy was a rock star, then lost it all, then went to the dumps and came back. Which we saw none of, by the way.

Okay, I’m rambling. But do you see my complaint? Dave Farland often talks about broadening and deepening your plot. Pacific Rim went broader (the world and aliens) when it would have benefited from going a little deeper, and not so wide.

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