Having made his directorial mark with dark, thoughtful movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and sprawling, epic movies like The Hobbit, Guillermo del Toro has turned his sights onto exploring new territory. And with Pacific Rim, his ambition is plain: he seeks nothing less than to make The Silliest Movie Ever Filmed.
Pacific Rim starts with a simple premise: Giant robots fighting aliens. To that premise, it adds: Giant Robots! Fighting Aliens! And also, More Giant Robots! Fighting More Aliens! Plus, it’s chock-full of scenes of giant robots. Fighting aliens.
In this movie, we see a mysterious underwater crevasse, glowing a hellish red and surrounded by special effects, unleash a gigantic alien. And I don’t mean T. Rex gigantic, oh, no. Or even King Kong gigantic. This is a gigantic alien. The size of the bigness of it would make Godzilla say “wow, that’s a gigantic alien!”
The gigantic alien wades ashore and stomps around San Francisco for a while. It smashes the Golden Gate Bridge, sending cars flying everywhere. It stomps along down Folsom Street, sending more cars flying. The army is mobilized. Tanks get stepped on. F-35 Lightning fighters shoot at it with machine guns, which is odd considering their more typical armament includes Brimstone armor-piercing antitank missiles, which one might think (were one of a clear frame of mind and not screaming “OMG it’s a gigantic alien!”) would be a more effective weapon against gigantic aliens. More cars go flying. The monster is defeated. Another monster appears. More fighter aircraft shoot at it with ineffective weapons–a common theme in this movie, as we shall see–and eventually, a plan is made to fight the monsters using gigantic hundred-foot-tall robots shaped like people, because the basic human body plan is so effective at underwater hand-to-hand combat. Pilots are placed in the giant robots and move them around by thrashing and stomping, because it takes about 750 milliseconds for a person to move a limb, and it was felt that simply controlling the giant robots by thought alone rather than by motion might make the giant robots too fast and too responsive, depriving the alien monsters of a fair chance. Having one pilot per robot overloaded the pilot’s brain because of plot, so the solution was to put two pilots into each robot, thereby adding to the response time and generally making the giant robots that much less efficient.
And that’s before the opening credits roll.
The rest of the movie goes something like this:
Seven YEARS pass since the first GIGANTIC ALIEN ATTACK. Two BROTHERS, named PROTAGONIST and EXPENDABLE, are sleeping in a BED when an ALARM SOUNDS.
Protagonist: It’s time to get into a giant robot and beat up gigantic aliens!
Expendable: Woohoo! It’s the beginning of the movie and my name is “Expendable.” What could go wrong? Let’s do this!
They hop into the HEAD of a GIANT ROBOT, which for unexplained reasons is DETACHABLE. They meld MINDS and are carried by a fleet of HELICOPTERS into the ocean.
Helicopter Pilot: Man, it sure is a good thing the laws of physics in this world don’t include turbulence, or else it would be impossible for a whole bunch of helicopters all tethered together to carry a giant robot.
GLaDOS: Welcome to the Aperture Science Giant Alien-Fighting Robot. The safety and comfort of our robot pilots is something we’re aware of. Cake and grief counseling will be available at the end of this scene.
The GIGANTIC ALIEN menaces a FISHING BOAT
Protagonist: Look! The gigantic alien is menacing a fishing boat! We should rescue it!
Expendable: What could go wrong? Let’s do this!
PROTAGONIST and EXPENDABLE punch the GIGANTIC ALIEN a whole bunch of times, then SHOOT it with an ION CANNON. The gigantic alien DIES
Expendable: The ion cannon seems to be pretty effective against the gigantic alien. Why didn’t we just shoot it from the start, instead of punching it a whole bunch of times first?
The GIGANTIC ALIEN comes back to LIFE and rips off the GIANT ROBOT’S ARM
GLaDOS: Congratulations. Despite your violent tendencies, the only thing you’ve managed to break so far is my arm.
The GIGANTIC ALIEN smashes the GIANT ROBOT’S unarmored VISOR and grabs EXPENDABLE
Expendable: I didn’t see that coming!
Protagonist: I didn’t see that coming!
Protagonist BEATS THE HELL out of the GIANT SPACE ALIEN and then staggers ASHORE
Five years PASS
World Leaders: We have decided to build giant walls along all the world’s coasts to stop the gigantic aliens.
Idris Badass Elba: Good plan. You can mount ion cannon and missile launchers all along the top of the walls.
World Leaders: That’s too expensive. They will just be walls.
Idris Badass Elba: Okay, at least a thick wall of solid concrete will slow down the gigantic aliens enough for the giant robots to show up and save the day.
World Leaders: That’s too expensive. We’re thinking more along the lines of hollow walls made of soft iron scaffolding with a thin concrete shell.
World Leaders: Also, the giant robots are too expensive. We’re going to stop paying for them.
Idris Badass Elba: Wait, what?
Idris Badass Elba: The future of humanity is on the line, and you’re worried about money?
World Leaders: We can’t afford to make heavy-duty reinforced walls with armaments on the top and also pay for giant robots without raising taxes. We’ve discussed this matter with the Koch brothers, and they agree the extermination of all mankind is an acceptable trade-off in this scenario to avoid raising their taxes.
Idris Badass Elba: …
Idris Badass Elba: So are you going to at least put, like, big spikes sticking out of the walls so that when the gigantic aliens punch the walls, it will hurt?
World Leaders: No spikes. Spikes mean Big Government. We oppose Big Government.
Idris Badass Elba: It doesn’t even matter what I say, does it? I am by far the best actor in this movie, I have all the best dialog, and it doesn’t make any difference. This movie is going to trot along with its own weird logic regardless.
PROTAGONIST is working on BUILDING A HOLLOW WALL with a SOFT IRON FRAME and NO WEAPONS OR SPIKES OR ANYTHING when IDRIS BADASS ELBA lands in a HELICOPTER
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog plot character development.
Protagonist: I understand, but I swore that after my brother died I would never go back.
Idris Badass Elba: Plot plot dialog plot.
Protagonist: Okay, you’ve convinced me. I will go back.
Mako Mori: Hi, Protagonist! I’ve studied your past as a giant robot dude. I’m almost the only woman in this movie, so you know I will be important. Did you know I’ve always wanted to be a giant robot pilot?
Whacked-Out Biologist: Hi, Protagonist! I’m a whacked-out biologist. I’m the representation of everything Hollywood believes a scientist is. You know what gets me off? Body parts! From gigantic alien monsters! Whee!
Socially Awkward Mathematician: Hi, Protagonist! I’m a socially awkward mathematician. I’m the representation of everything Hollywood believes mathematicians are. You know what gets me off? Bickering with the Whacked-Out Biologist! Since this is Hollywood, that must mean we will be BFFs by the end of the movie.
Protagonist: I came back for this?
They go down into a SECRET BASE with several GIANT ROBOTS and GLaDOS
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog plot plot backstory.
Protagonist: You re-built my old giant robot?
Idris Badass Elba: Plot backstory backstory dialog.
Protagonist: And you have a plan to drop a nuclear bomb into the underwater crack to keep the aliens out?
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog plot dialog backstory plot.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but burlap chafes me so.
The SOCIALLY AWKWARD MATHEMATICIAN talks about the number of attacks INCREASING. The WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST talks about MELDING with a gigantic alien BRAIN and repeats the MYTH about dinosaurs having TWO BRAINS. The dialog WEDGES. Biologists in the audience CRINGE.
Idris Badass Elba: Plot dialog exposition plot.
Protagonist: But I don’t want to find a replacement! I think I can never again pilot a giant robot without my brother.
Idris Badass Elba: Exposition dialog plot plot.
Protagonist: Okay, sounds reasonable. I will hit a bunch of people with sticks to see who my new copilot is.
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog dialog.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but where will we find a duck and a hose at this hour?
PROTAGONIST hits a bunch of people with STICKS to see who would make the best CO-PILOT. Mako Mori is SNARKY.
Protagonist: Why are you being snarky?
Mako Mori: You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are, know you are. Come on. Stop trying to hit them and hit them.
Protagonist: Goad me not, or I shall hit you with a stick too.
Mako Mori: Come and get some.
PROTAGONIST and MAKO MORI hit each other with STICKS
Mako Mori: Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in a giant metal robot?
Mako Mori: Nothing.
They all have DINNER. The dialog WEDGES.
Protagonist: I want Mako Mori as my co-pilot.
Idris Badass Elba: Exposition background character development.
Protagonist: I don’t care. I still want her anyway.
Idris Badass Elba: Plot dialog plot.
Protagonist: Awesome! Now I will totally make her my co-pilot!
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog exposition.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but we’ll never get a monkey to use dental floss.
They have a big emotional REUNION with GLaDOS
GLaDOS: It’s been a long time. How have you been? I’ve been really busy being dead. You know, after you abandoned me on a beach in Alaska.
GLaDOS: By the way, thanks for that.
PROTAGONIST talks to MAKO MORI about how to do a VULCAN MIND MELD. She ignores his ADVICE.
GLaDOS: Ion cannon ready.
The other characters have a PANIC ATTACK. People run around YELLING A LOT.
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog plot.
Protagonist: But Mako Mori has to be my co-pilot!
Idris Badass Elba: Plot exposition character development dialog.
Protagonist: Why? Three reasons.
Protagonist: 1. She hit me with a stick.
Protagonist: 2. She’s the only significant female character.
Protagonist: 3. It’s what the movie audience wants.
Protagonist: 4. I looked inside her brain and you’re totally holding her back because you saved her life when she was a kid and stuff, and also a red shoe.
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog.
Protagonist: Yes, I know how to count to three. The fourth reason was just a…a…a special bonus reason!
Idris Badass Elba: Plot background dialog plot.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but this time, you wear the tutu.
PROTAGONIST and MAKO MORI are AWKWAAAARD. The dialog WEDGES.
Whacked-Out Biologist: This dialog sucks. I’m going to mind-meld with this damaged alien monster brain I happen to have in this tank here.
The WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST mind-melds with the DAMAGED ALIEN BRAIN. There are SPECIAL EFFECTS and stuff.
Socially Awkward Mathematician: Fuuuuuu…
Two more GIGANTIC ALIENS come out of the OCEAN and start BEING MENACING
Idris Badass Elba: Urgent dialog! Plot dialog plot! Terrible idea! Inefficient use of resources!
All the remaining GIANT ROBOTS except for GLaDOS go into BATTLE. ALIENS fight GIANT ROBOTS. The audience munches POPCORN.
Audience: Oh, yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! Alien on giant robot action, boo yah!
Whacked-Out Biologist: The gigantic aliens are biologically engineered weapons sent to kill the earth so that other space aliens can take it over, because that totally makes sense! Plus, dinosaurs! Whee! I need another alien brain to meld with!
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog dialog.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Wait, what? You want to send me to find a shady black-market dealer and persuade him to give me an alien brain? Have you seen my social skills?
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog exposition character development.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Oh, right, I totally forgot I’m the comedic relief. I’ll be fine!
Idris Badass Elba: Exposition dialog plot.
Whacked-Out Biologist: I think so, sir, but if they called them sad meals, kids wouldn’t buy them.
The GIGANTIC ALIENS spew ACID all over one of the GIANT ROBOTS. The giant robot crew DIES.
Ripley: Acid? That’s original.
The GIGANTIC ALIENS beat the HELL out of the second GIANT ROBOT. The giant robot crew DIES.
Cocky giant robot pilots whose names the audience doesn’t care about: We’ll save the day!
The GIGANTIC ALIENS send out an ELECTRO-MAGNETIC PULSE that turns off the GIANT ROBOT and leaves it standing STUPIDLY in the WATER, because military-grade electronics aren’t SHIELDED
Protagonist: Now’s our chance! We can save the day! GLaDOS is immune to EMPs because it’s analog! Or, err, something.
The WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST goes looking for a BLACK MARKET DEALER in ALIEN BODY PARTS and finds RON MOTHERFUCKING PERLMAN
Whacked-Out Biologist: Hi! I’m a whacked-out biologist. I’m looking for the brain of a gigantic alien. I hear you’re the person to talk to.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Why do you want the brain of a gigantic alien?
Whacked-Out Biologist: It’s totally top-secret and I totally can’t tell you. Except that you have awesome shoes, so I’ll tell you, because shoes have been a weird theme in this movie. I want to mind-meld with it!
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: …
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: You do know the aliens have a hive mind, right? So if you mind-meld with one, then all the other ones will know, right?
Whacked-Out Biologist: I totally didn’t think of that!
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: You haven’t actually done that yet, right? Please tell me you haven’t actually done that yet.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Let me just say that those, sir, are some absolutely fantastic shoes. Plus, I can tell by the shaking ground that gigantic aliens are coming right for us.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: They’re coming for you, you mean.
RON MOTHERFUCKING PERLMAN tosses the WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST out onto the STREET, where people are RUNNING AND SCREAMING
Whacked-Out Biologist: Well, this sucks.
A GIGANTIC ALIEN comes ASHORE and sends a bunch of cars FLYING
Whacked-Out Biologist: Well, this sucks even more.
The GIGANTIC ALIEN chases the WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST around for a while. Dozens of cars go FLYING IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
Whacked-Out Biologist: You mind-meld with one ravening homicidal alien bent on the destruction of all mankind just that one time, and…
Protagonist: Hey, gigantic alien! You want a piece of me?
The GIGANTIC ALIEN and the GIANT ROBOT FIGHT. Cars go FLYING EVERYWHERE. They punch each other a WHOLE BUNCH OF TIMES. More cars go FLYING. The audience eats POPCORN.
Audience: That’s what we’re here to see! Giant robots fighting aliens! Punch! Sock! Zow!
The GIGANTIC ALIEN suddenly sprouts WINGS and picks up the GIANT ROBOT even though it’s massively ARMORED and REALLY HEAVY
Protagonist: That’s it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?
Mako Mori: Maybe I could push the giant sword button.
MAKO MORI pushes the GIANT SWORD BUTTON. The giant sword COMES OUT. It is all LIMP AND FLOPPY at first, but then it gets STIFF and HARD.
Protagonist: Wait, we have a giant sword?
Mako Mori: This is as close to a sex scene as this movie has.
MAKO MORI stabs the GIGANTIC FLYING ALIEN with the SWORD. It dies INSTANTLY.
Protagonist: Wow, that giant sword is really, really effective! Why have we been punching the aliens this entire time instead of using the sword?
Protagonist: For that matter, why don’t they put those swords on the walls?
Protagonist: Or, like, on missiles or something?
Protagonist: I mean, they work really, really well!
Protagonist: Of course, now there’s the problem that we’re plummeting to certain death.
Mako Mori: What about the button that makes fire come out of the spinny thing up front?
Protagonist: Of course! The spinny thing fire button!
FIRE comes out of the SPINNY THING on the front of the GIANT ROBOT. Even though it’s not remotely near the giant robot’s CENTER OF MASS, somehow it SLOWS THEM DOWN, rather than, say, causing them to TUMBLE.
Protagonist: Woohoo! We’re still alive!
Mako Mori: You’re welcome.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Wait, whacked-out biologist, you’re still alive too?
Whacked-Out Biologist: I’m the comic relief. Plus, plot.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Oh, right. Let’s go check out the dead alien.
RON MOTHERFUCKING PERLMAN sends a bunch of PEOPLE inside the DEAD ALIEN. Something SQUISHY starts MOVING AROUND.
Whacked-Out Biologist: The alien is pregnant!
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Wait, what? I thought you said the aliens are cloned biological weapons engineered to kill humanity.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Yeah, so?
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: So why on earth would one of them be pregnant? That makes no sense.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Oh, right, Mister ‘Now This Movie Has To Make Sense’ Man. Like giant robots running around in the ocean punching aliens makes sense.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: But…
Whacked-Out Biologist: Like your fucking shoes make sense.
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Touché.
A baby ALIEN comes out and EATS RON MOTHERFUCKING PERLMAN, then DIES
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog exposition tragic revelation.
Protagonist: I agree. We must go put the nuke in the undersea crater at once.
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog dialog plot selfless act.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but me and Pippi Longstocking… I mean, what would the children look like?
Captain Mifune: All right! This is it! Now you all know me, so I’m gonna say this as simply as I can. If it’s our time to die, it’s our time. All I ask is, if we have to give these bastards our lives… WE GIVE ‘EM HELL BEFORE WE DO!
Protagonist: Who the hell are you?
Captain Mifune: Isn’t this the stirring speech before the fight to defend Zion’s dock?
Protagonist: No, this is the stirring speech to defend humanity against gigantic undersea aliens.
Captain Mifune: Oh. Sorry, wrong movie.
Protagonist: Can we, um…can we borrow some of those cool APU robot walker machine gun things?
Captain Mifune: No.
The GIANT ROBOTS set off with a NUKE to go BLOW UP THE UNDERSEA CRATER
Socially Awkward Mathematician: Cue three more gigantic aliens in 3…2…1…
Two more GIGANTIC ALIENS appear out of the UNDERWATER CREVASSE
Socially Awkward Mathematician: Definitely three aliens. Yes. Three. Three aliens. Definitely, definitely three aliens.
Audience: Well, I guess you just blew the dramatic tension when a third alien ‘unexpectedly’ appears, huh?
Whacked-Out Biologist: I’m going to mind-meld with the dead baby alien right here on the street where all these cars have been tossed around, because my research suggests that’s the best environment for performing dangerous experiments with a high likelihood of getting me killed.
Socially Awkward Mathematician: That makes perfect sense. I accept your flawless reasoning, and I will mind-meld with the dead baby alien with you.
The two remaining GIANT ROBOTS go stomping off to the UNDERSEA CREVASSE. They PUNCH the two GIGANTIC ALIENS a whole bunch of times. The audience munches POPCORN.
Audience: Giant robots beating up gigantic aliens! Underwater! And nuclear bombs! Gimme some sugar, baby!
The WHACKED-OUT BIOLOGIST and the SOCIALLY AWKWARD MATHEMATICIAN mind-meld with the DEAD BABY ALIEN. There are SPECIAL EFFECTS.
Whacked-Out Biologist: Oh my god! We have to tell the others!
Socially Awkward Mathematician: The plan to drop the nuclear bomb down the underwater crevasse won’t work because of DNA coding and plot?
Whacked-Out Biologist: No, we can save 15% or more with GEICO!
A third GIGANTIC ALIEN pops out and ambushes the GIANT ROBOTS by ‘SURPRISE.’ Nobody is SURPRISED.
Audience: Two giant robots beating up three alien monsters? You can’t get enough of this for my entertainment dollar!
Whacked-Out Biologist: The undersea crevasse that’s actually a portal to the alien homeworld has a DNA scanner! Only aliens can go through it! Nuclear bombs can’t!
The GIANT ROBOTS keep beating up the GIGANTIC ALIENS
Mako Mori: We should use the sword again.
Mako Mori: Why not? It totally works! Cut that last alien in half with one hit.
Protagonist: I have a better idea. Let’s keep beating up the aliens in a way that we know they can easily escape, hoping for an overly-dramatic and exotic fight.
Mako Mori: Why don’t we just slice them now? Here, I’ll get the sword. We’ll just slice them. Wham! Dead. Done.
Protagonist: One more word out of you and you’re grounded.
They PUNCH the ALIEN MONSTERS some more
Mako Mori: We have a sword in this giant robot! Give me five seconds, I’ll push the sword button and we’ll chop them into pâté.
Protagonist: You just don’t get it, do you?
Idris Badass Elba: Dialog plot noble sacrifice.
Protagonist: That’s a capital idea! You sacrifice yourselves by blowing up the nuclear bomb to kill the aliens, then I’ll go through the undersea crevasse and cause a core meltdown in my giant robot! That totally makes sense!
Idris Badass Elba: Plot dialog dialog.
Protagonist: I think so, sir, but isn’t Regis Philbin already married?
IDRIS BADASS ELBA detonates the NUCLEAR BOMB. It fails to DAMAGE THE OTHER GIANT ROBOT or KILL THE ALIENS or MAKE A CRATER IN THE GROUND.
Mako Mori: What just happened?
Protagonist: Idris Badass Elba detonated a nuclear bomb.
Mako Mori: Then why are we still here?
Protagonist: Because we’re inside a giant robot.
Mako Mori: Wait, what?
Mako Mori: An alien can rip the arms off this robot, but an underwater nuclear blast from, like, fifteen yards away doesn’t even scratch it?
Mako Mori: Some nuke.
Mako Mori: Seriously, that quote-unquote “nuclear bomb” had less punch than an ordinary anti-sub torpedo.
Mako Mori: Or a conventional bunker buster bomb.
Mako Mori: Or a World War II era iron bomb.
Mako Mori: Or my grandma’s three-alarm chili.
Mako Mori: I mean, seriously, what the actual fuck?
Mako Mori: That’s, like, the stupidest–
Protagonist: You still don’t get it, do you?
PROTAGONIST grabs a GIGANTIC ALIEN and BEATS IT UP and then RIDES IT THROUGH THE UNDERSEA PORTAL DIMENSIONAL WORMHOLE SPECIAL EFFECT THINGIE into the ALIEN HOMEWORLD
Protagonist: Okay, now we just need to cause a meltdown to detonate the nuclear core in this giant robot by remote control, and–
Mako Mori: Wait, what?
Mako Mori: First, why would there even be a remote control for making a nuclear meltdown?
Mako Mori: Second, you do know that a meltdown isn’t an explosion, right?
Mako Mori: I mean, what are you going to do, save humanity by giving some of the aliens cancer?
Mako Mori: And third–
Protagonist: That’s it, I’m ejecting you.
PROTAGONIST ejects MAKO MORI in an EMERGENCY ESCAPE POD
Protagonist: Okay, now to set up the remote-controlled meltdown.
GLaDOS: Remote-control meltdown system offline.
GLaDOS: Fortunately, the deadly neurotoxin emitters are still online. So get comfortable while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters.
Protagonist: Okay, I’ll just push the manual core-meltdown button.
GLaDOS: Why do we even have one of those?
PROTAGONIST presses the MANUAL CORE
MELTDOWN EXPLOSION BUTTON
GLaDOS The difference between us is that I can feel pain.
PROTAGONIST escapes in an EMERGENCY ESCAPE POD just as the core
MELTS DOWN EXPLODES
Mako Mori: I’m so glad to see you again! To show you the depth of my emotion, I will now greet you using a ceremony of my people we like to call ‘squeezing the life out of you.’
The END CREDITS start to ro–
Ron Motherfucking Perlman: Where’s my shoe?
The movie ENDS