7 Iron-Clad Reasons We Know Who To Blame For Pacific Rim's Failures
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7 Iron-Clad Reasons We Know Exactly Who's To Blame For Pacific Rim's Failures

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | July 24, 2013 | Comments ()


Pacific Rim, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, has been performing well below expectations. And that’s too bad because even if it’s not the most incredible film I’ve seen this summer (or even this week), it is a damn enjoyable summer flick and certainly worth hauling your ass to the theater. So why isn’t it incredible? What’s standing between these terrifying beasts and greatness? Oh god, that would be the dreadful script. I can’t lay all the blame on head writer Travis Beacham, we know that there were likely a lot of cooks in that kitchen. (Including the much beloved Guillermo del Torro.) But I want to know who looked at Beacham’s other major writing credit, Clash Of The Titans, and said “That guy! Let’s have more of that guy. Only with added futuristic technobabble.”

Now the concept for Pacific Rim is Beacham’s. And I have no problem with that. All the smash and even more boom, please. But the dialogue desperately needed a polish (or at least a hacksaw). Apparently Iron-Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce was hired to clean Pacific Rim up. If so, I’d hate to have seen it before Pearce got his talented hands on it.

But you know what burns me? What has motivated me to write this list? I’ve heard a lot of the blame dropped on the cast. Not cool. Sure there are some performers who did better than others with the clunky dialogue. But every actor assembled for this project has at least one or two knock-out performances in their pocket and they deserve none of the blame. Don’t believe me?

Clifton Collins Jr. — Sunshine Cleaning: Collins is one of my favorite character actors. He did an amazing job in Capote holding his own opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman. But it was his charming-as-hell performance in Sunshine Cleaning that won my heart completely.

Rinko Kikuchi — The Brothers Bloom: Perhaps it’s unfair to cite Kikuchi’s Bang Bang as evidence of her craft. She only has, what, one line? But her silent clowning is amazing. If you want to see Kikuchi Act with a capital “A,” check out Babel. She’s heart-stopping. But Bang Bang is and always will be my favorite.

Burn Gorman — “Bleak House”: Most people know and love Gorman for his slimy portrayal of Owen on “Torchwood.” But, for me, it’s his Mr. Guppy from “Bleak House” that better shows What Might Have Been in Pacific Rim. He can play weirdly mannered and off-puttingly earnest very well, if given a chance.
Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 9.56.31 PM.png

Charlie Day — Going The Distance: In my opinion, Day was the second strongest performer in Pacific Rim. That cat could probably read the phone book in a way that would make me laugh. Day may be most famous for “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” but if you haven’t seen his perfect mastery of comic relief in Going The Distance, you’re missing out. He and Sudeikis made that movie 1000x more enjoyable

Ron Perlman — Drive: You could close your eyes and throw a dart at Perlman’s CV and find something worth putting on this list. Oh yeah, I’ll defend “Beauty And The Beast” with my dying breath. But Perlman’s menacing, larger than life performance in Drive was absolutely superb.
Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 7.46.36 AM.png

Charlie Hunnam — “Sons Of Anarchy”: I honestly don’t know how Kurt Sutter gets such a good performance out of Hunnam on “SOA,” but I do know it can be done. Hunnam is certainly not a great actor. This we know. But maybe if good ol’ Raleigh Beckett had been a strong, silent type, Pacific Rim would have worked better than it did.

Idris Elba — “Luther”: Idris Elba is perfection. We all agree. And he did the best out of any of these fine folks with the clunkers he was given. At least they didn’t make him use a Southern accent. (Lindelof/Scott, I’m looking at you.) Some performers are impervious. Elba may be one of them.

P.S. I’m contractually obliged to include this. Because it’s the best thing.

A Moment of Silence As Kate Middleton Angrily Crosses "Carlos Danger" Off Her Baby Name List | 5 Shows After Dark 7/24/13

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Leon

    Funny thing is, that Pacific Rim only failed HERE in the USA, and has done awesome overseas. It has yet to come out in Japan, and most likely will do well there too. So what happened here in the US? I don't get it personally. I am a big Kaiju and giant robot fan (Macross, Mechwarrior, Godzilla and Gamera) and loved the presentation, action and flow of the movie. I think that for the US audience, that they had been all been burned out on sci-fi movies (we had a lot come out prior to Pacific Rim this year), and were looking for something that didn't take much to get into, but also was not sci-fi. Grown-ups 2 is that movie, simple and requires no thought and unlike Pacific Rim, no need to also suspend your belief at all. A very safe and bleh movie concept that has been overplayed a lot lately. At least Pacific Rim was bold, and is succeeding overseas where its form of story telling is being appreciated. I wish it had done better here state side, but at least they are going to make it big overseas. I am certain I have only scratched the surface on the reasons it failed here and did so well outside of the US, and others have added their take to it. I just want people to know that the movie is far from a total flop, just not liked here in our country.

  • dreamlife613

    As someone who is usually underwhelmed by most films these days, I thoroughly enjoyed Pacific Rim. I thought Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, and Idris Elba were all great. I thought the audience laughed and gasped at the right moments.

  • Adrien

    All is not lost, it is doing well internationally (#1, not yet been shown in Japan) even if there are no well known stars in it. Overseas showing tends to do well if there's a certified blockbuster star in the cast or if it's a well known franchise.

  • cgthegeek

    More specifically, they are blaming Idiris and Rinko. And not because they are cannot act but because they don't have "mainstream" appeal. And we all know what that is code for.

  • Salieri2

    Crap, I thought they were the most appealing things in the film (after you factor out the smashy-smash and how beautifully it was shot. The water effects alone!)

    Whitey McBlanderguy and his dick battle with Aussie McBlanderguy Jr were boring as all git-out, and I was glad the RunPee app suggested a bathroom break during their key scene. No arguments there.

  • calciferboheme

    Given the money that all the Transformers movies have made and the fact that PacRim lost to Grown Ups 2 proves that the dialogue is not what hurt this film.

    Besides, I don't even get that as a complaint. Not, it wasn't Oscar winning script writing, but it's nowhere near as bad as people want to point out. Dialogue in this type of movie will always be a little stilted. I don't know of any examples that would prove otherwise. It would have been nice if this had been an exception. But they made me care about the people involved so that's good enough.

    This movie is my favorite of the summer, so it's a shame that it didn't do better. All I can hope for is that between foreign markets and home video sales/merchandise, Pacific Rim will end up turning a profit and won't hurt GDT's career.

  • AvaLehra

    "Chicken's not vegan?"

  • Conor

    Milk 'n eggs, bitch!

  • Pacific Rim was almost as good as that movie I saw where Wesley Snipes fought a black panther in a coal mine. At night.

  • asherlev1

    Oh God. I'm having that sinking realization looking at this post that I'm possibly the only one that has been cocooned in a goofy, delusional bubble of love for this movie. I...don't know. It's not perfect, but I sort of fell head over heels for it anyway. *backs away slowly*

  • Maguita NYC

    Loved it too. But this is more trying to place blame on why it did not do as well as expected, and what could be better if there ever is to be a sequel.

  • misslucyjane

    Me too.. I thought it was a huge success, going by the enthusiasm for it other places I hang out online, until I saw this post.

  • emmalita

    I loved it. I wish there had been more speaking parts for women, I wish they had had more time to show some of the other Jeager teams in action. There were plot holes the size of a Kaiju claw print, but I loved the movie. And I'm going to see it again, and I'll buy it when it comes out on blu-ray.

  • Yep, I'm already planning on taking my husband along for a rewatch. This is one you have to see in theaters to really enjoy the hell out of it.

  • TK

    Right there with you.

  • DominaNefret

    The end.

    I need to see this movie still, seeing as though one of the very few female characters is played by the sister of a good friend of mine.


  • I thought she was awesome. She made an impression in the little screen time that she had.

  • Also...I know that Idris Elba is a Pajiba God and all, and I really like the guy, but his accent was wildly all over the place in this movie. Was he supposed to be British? American? Neither? I couldn't make up my mind from scene to scene.

  • Nathan Convey

    I can't think of a single instance in which his accent slipped. Which as just as well, given that he was using his real accent throughout the film. It was a London accent. Charlie Hunnam and the two 'Aussies' were all over the place. Though Charlie Hunnam can't even do his own accent any more so that was hardly surprising.

  • I just saw this and LOVED it.

    But...yeah, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. They tried too hard with the Mako-Marshall story and it just came off as forced and cheesy, and the big "reveal" really wasn't much of a reveal at all.

    More robots, less talking. More giant monsters, less of Charlie Hunnam looking pained.

  • Maguita NYC

    And less of that awful-wtf-ish weird Australian accent.

  • Jam

    This is a movie exclusively for comic book nerds. I don't know what the fuck a kaiju is, or what the hell Evangelion is that people have been referencing or gladOs (however it goes).

  • Ben

    none of those things are comic books.

  • Jam

    Whatever, anime? Something Asian? Plus sci-fi thrown in? Whatever the hell it was it was all for fanboys who are 12 years old inside still.

  • Guest

    Yeah, real adults make up aliases and bitch about shit on the internet!

  • Maguita NYC

    Yeah, and real adults tout their persisting ignorance loud and proud on the intern...

    Wait, yes they do. You are right. Carry on.

  • GDI

    No, we have not be jammed, councilman.

  • TK

    Comment of the week, right there.

  • Bananaranma

    I would point out that it has made $110M overseas and hasn't yet been released in China or Japan. Under expectations but not a disaster.

  • It is maybe the only IMAX 3D movie that I haven't felt ripped off after paying the extra. It was visually amazing. The story on the other hand...

  • calliope1975

    I was just about to type this exact comment. The first time I saw it in 3D and loved the effects but thought it muted the sharpness. The second time I saw it in 3D IMAX and thoguht it was a great use of effects and the picture was sharp.

    I would gladly watch this again (and pay the extra $$) to see it in IMAX 3D. And I'm a firm believer in the saying "if it's not good, make it 3D."

  • emmalita

    I saw it opening weekend in IMAX 3D, and I'm going again this weekend. I'm insisting that we see it in IMAX 3D again. I'm hoping the person in front of me won't have either a tiny bladder or a coke habit this time.

  • Maguita NYC

    So L.O.V.E. was once again sitting in front of you? Peepaw and his drinking.

  • NateMan

    The real problem is it's a niche film. It's a movie by fanboys, for fanboys. And it's amazing for that, but it's written for a specific crowd and caters to them. It doesn't draw in anyone who isn't looking for a very clearly defined source of entertainment. Which is a shame, because it's a whole hell of a lot of fun and a lot more people would enjoy it than expect to, but it's robots vs. monsters, and it's never going to draw the couples and the older parents and all those crowds.

    I expect huge sales when it hits Blu-Ray and digital markets, however.

  • Maguita NYC

    You're forgetting the fangirls! As per this site, we're rabid fans of old Grendeizer-like bots.

  • NateMan

    Well, I was using 'fanboy' in the non-gendered sense, but yes, your gender will certainly help out.

  • True_Blue

    I'm certainly buying it when it comes out on Blu-Ray, so I can pause at good parts and check out the jaegers at my leisure.

  • NateMan

    You and me both!

  • couch and pants

    Hunnam looked constipated whenever his character was supposed to be angry, and Kikuchi over-emoted every single time she was supposed to react to anything. And I say this as someone who likes both of them very much. But were they given much to work with? No, not really, but everyone else worked for me pretty well, even with some pretty schlocky writing.

    BUT ON TOP OF THAT, I've already seen *Independence Day*. It was pretty much just *Independence Day* all over again.

  • His accent was aaaall over the place.

  • Idle Primate

    Be fair, Hunnam only looked constipated when the camera was pointed at him.

    I'd swear he was delivering his lines phonetically with no understanding and no hints from anyone else.

  • Marc Greene

    I don't know that I would have called it "one of the most highly anticipated" movies. I know I was excited to see it and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I don't know if it had quite the awareness quotient (term I just made up) with the casual moviegoer compared to the geeks I tend to pal around with and even some of them had to be reminded it was coming out.

    As far as the population at large being somehow smarter or over dumb scripts... fucking Grown Ups 2 beat Pacific Rim. So that theory can jump right up an asshole.

    I think the market that was overlooked is the same market Dredd missed: women. Sure there were some fan girls who check out both movies, but they were definitely in the minority at both in my area and I saw each movie twice (wife stayed home). That being said, I appreciate that these movies were fairly unapologetic with their concepts and execution. People didn't need a love story in Dredd, though I'm sure a studio exec might have thought it would sell more tickets and Pacific Rim didn't need big name stars hamming it up. Hopefully both movies will get a second wind in the blu-ray market.

  • GDI

    Dredd did well enough in DVD/Blu-Ray sales that warranted the possibility of a sequel.
    Pacific Rim is also doing moderately well worldwide.

    So there is justice. It just doesn't happen to be in America.

  • sean

    I agree with that. As the only woman in Pacific Rim basically cried and whined throughout the movie. I wondered why no other women were allowed to speak in the movie. However the theater I saw it at was pretty mixed. Men, women, young, old, black, white...and weird number of fat Asian teens. An entire row of them. There were a lot of my people, however. The white middle-aged guys who grew up watching Godzilla movies every week. The guys who saw Infra Man at the drive in as kids

  • ben

    Cried, whined, and Piloted a giant kill bot that punched monsters in their dick faces.
    Everyone always forgets that last bit.

  • I really wanted the Russian badass female pilot to have more of a role. She seemed AMAZING.

  • DominaNefret

    I actually haven't seen the movie yet, but that character is played by the sister of a good friend of mine, Heather. So clearly I have to agree with you anyway, since Heather IS totally is badass and rad and amazing.

  • Awesome. I really wish we'd gotten to see more of the Russians and the Chinese jaegers in general--they seemed a lot more interesting than the Australians.

  • emmalita

    In my fantasy world, Pacific Rim is re-made as a 13 episode per season tv series that spends more time exploring the development and workings of the Jeager program. Lt. A. Kaidanovsky (the female Russian pilot) role is played again by your friend's sister, and she gets to talk. In fact, in my fantasy series there would be many more women, and they would all talk more. And since this is fantasy, and thus budget is not an issue, there would be big Jeager vs. Kaiju fights in every episode.

  • sean

    RIGHT! And she did nothing but stand there.

  • emmalita

    She glowered too. She may have also snarled.

  • sean

    I think they may have cut the snarling part.

  • emmalita

    I'll watch more closely when I see it again.

  • That may be the case. Films like Pacific Rim and Dredd are pretty "niche", in that they are made with a clear vision and have little interest in playing towards as many demographics as possible. They are, for lack of a better term, "geek" movies: not just in subject matter, but the mentality needed to truly enjoy what is being presented. You can enjoy PR on it's own, but the more familiar you are with the works it is homaging, the more you get out of it.

  • Marc Greene

    Actually the thing that gave PacRim the most press before release was that the reviews weren't terrible.

  • Samuel D. Miller

    Re: Clash of the Titans, word was that very little of Beachum's work actually made it to the screen Many things happen with a script before the final cut is in the theaters. Isolating a screenwriter's shortcomings in a film is tough to gauge from an outside perspective (unless it's from an auteur like Shyamalan or Allen). Yes, there were clunkers, but ultimately it's the director who must recognize those clunkers and take care of them.
    Del Toro is a phenomenal director, but he's not exactly an actor's director. If one actor's performance is lacking, it's that actor's fault. If many/most/all of the actors' performances are lacking... it'd the director's fault.

  • koko

    Yes! The problem was with directing actors. The lines and dialogue were just campy enough too work with the right delivery.

  • Wigamer

    Idris Elba's clothing is to blame. It is known.

  • emmalita

    It is known.

  • Horatio Postlethwaite

    Often studios don't really care about anything other than returns. If they feel that other similar films/connected with teams/writer/director have made a fair return then they will back it. Clash of the Titans brought in over $400,000,000 for a $122,000,000 investment. They don't care if it was shit or not. It's why M Night Shyamalan keeps getting work.

  • PDamian

    Burn Gorman will be one of my Pajiba 10 selections next year. I love the ones with offbeat-yet-attractive looks. It's fiendishly difficult to play an unappealing, twitchy, sad bastard while simultaneously conveying the pathos of the sad bastard's situation, but damned if he didn't do just that in Bleak House. Someday someone's going to offer him a good role in a good film, and then everyone will know his genius. Pacific Rim did him no favors, unfortunately.

  • charlottebrontesaurus

    Gah, someone's mentioning Bleak House! I'm contractually obligated to add how much I also enjoy Philip Davis, Alun Armstrong, and Eddie Marsan.

  • charlottebrontesaurus

    Sorry, I'm getting my PBS Masterpieces mixed up.

  • Irina

    I usually hate Charlie Hunnam in anything other than SoA (started with Queer As Folk UK and just steam-rolled from there) and, though I didn't think he was that bad in Pacific Rim, he was nowhere near what a leading man should be.
    Is it just me, or were the older guys MUCH hotter than the young ones? Idris Elba is hands down sexier than Charlie Hunnam, and the Australian dad really got me all hot and bothered, while his son did absolutely nothing for me (and the fact that he's currently banging Sookie Stackhouse up in Fairyland ain't exactly scoring points in his favor).

  • Yes! The Aussie dad was totally hot. Couldn't tell you what the son looked like. Really, all Idris Elba has to do is stand there and look at you to be drop dead sexy. I adore Charlie Day. Charlie Hunnam didn't stand a chance, he has the standard, run of the mill movie star good looks, but I felt lacked charisma on the big screen. And, of course, Ron Perlman is just so much awesome.

  • emteem

    You hated Charlie Hunnam on Undeclared?

  • The Aussie dad was Max Martini, a David Mamet regular. I know I mainly recognize him from The Unit. He was probably the third best thing in the movie, behind Elba and Day.

    He seems to have the best luck whenever he plays second-in-command to large black guys.

  • Samantha Klein

    Bang Bang! (I have nothing to add, just another fan.)

  • sean

    The real problem is that it was released into a huge crowd of movies. Too many giant blockbusters all out at the same time. They should have kept this one until Christmas.

  • Gabriel

    Competing with "The Desolation of Smaug" and "Catching Fire"? NO WAY, it would be a bigger flop! Maybe drop in the dump months, but Christmas? No.

  • sean

    I, rightfully, forgot about the Hobbit 2. I assume that it will be as dull as the first one. Catching Fire has a different demographic.

  • Fredo

    See, I think of Pacific Rim as something akin to old Hollywood action movies: Captain Blood or Jason and the Argonauts. Big, bold, over-the-top action matched with big, bold, over-the-top dialogue and sentiments. Instead of going "normal, 21st Century" reality, they tried to match the bombast of the Kaijus-vs-Jaegers duels. Thing is that doesn't fly with today's audiences. We expect nuance and complexity. It's why we look at Top Gun today and laugh.

  • malikvlc

    "Nuance and complexity"? I dunno, audiences still run to see the latest Fast and Furious...

  • Fredo

    But Fast & Furious sold itself as a "dumb action movie" a la Commando. And it hit its mark. Selling this movie as "From Guillermo del Toro" creates an expectation above "dumb robot movie" -- which is how they sold Transformers.

    Look at the best action movie series of the last decade: the Bourne movies. Instead of an over-the-top macho hero who bed all the ladies and quipped his way through battles, Jason Bourne was troubled, tormented and alone. He had enemies but his biggest battle was with facing his real self. And it was so good, it bled into his archetype's series with the Craig era Bond.

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    I loved it. I wish there had
    been more speaking parts for women, I wish they had had more time to
    show some of the other Jeager teams in action. There were plot holes
    the size of a Kaiju claw print, but I loved the movie. And I'm going to
    see it again, and I'll buy it when it comes out on blu-ray.

  • But that makes no sense...because the advertising for Pacific Rim pretty much screamed "dumb robot movie". Hell, Del Toro himself was screaming that whenever he could. He specifically said this was a love letter to the giant monster movies and anime of his youth.

    And really, Del Toro also had the Hellboy movies under his belt. So it wasn't like people didn't know he was capable of making a fun action movie with crazy scenes. This wasn't Del Toro in Arty Mode (ala Pan's Labyrinth), this was Del Toro in Total Geek Mode. This was never in question.

    If anything, it may be the combination of burnout from the Transformers movies and the film being such a huge nerdgasm that folks may have felt left out.

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