Pacific Rim & the Wolverine (2013)

Pacific Rim
Growing up I loved watching old Japanese monster movies as well as other low budget Japanese superhero films. This was the world BSW (Before Star Wars). I’d laugh and enjoy the antics of Ultraman, Johnny Socko and his Flying Robot and of course the ultimate giant monster: Godzilla!

There’s something about giant monsters that appealed to me as a kid. In the primal parts of my brain that still recalls the fun of watching the cheesy rubbery monsters, I was smitten with Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim has the feel of an international movie and smacks of a gritty more realistic Japanese monster movie or anime style film. Guillermo del Toro was the director, and I think he succeeded with this movie. I’m kind of hit or miss with del Toro as a director. He’s made some films I like (Blade II and Pacific Rim) but others I wasn’t too wild about (Hellboy,Hellboy II, and I’m kind of on the fence about Mimic.)

One thing about del Toro that is for certain is he likes monsters and horror films. With Pacific Rim he had fun making the movie. It shows. The movie took its time introducing the main characters, introducing us to the situation in the world with the kaiju (Japanese for giant monsters) and jaegers (German for hunters. Jaegers are the giant robots designed by humans to fight the kaiju.)

I think if this movie had been released in a different era, say the late 80s to early 90s it would be a cult hit today. Added bonuses were the addition of Charlie Day of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame and Ron Perlman of “Hellboy” and many other feature film fame.

Pacific Rim isn’t a rocket science kind of movie, but it’s fun to watch without being a heavy summer blockbuster. I give it four out of five kaiju brains.

The Wolverine

Hm… it was good but not great. First, I’d have to say that you should watch the previous Wolverine and other X-Men movies to follow some plot elements in this movie. Famke Janssen has a recurring role as Jean Grey throughout this movie, and the Logan-Jean relationship is a complicated one. After watching this, I felt I had to go back and watch some of the other X-Men movies to remember what happened before.

The movie, however, isn’t centered on the Logan-Jean relationship but focuses on Wolverine having to go to Japan to say is good-byes to an old Japanese soldier.

The movie reminded me of an old graphic novel from the 80s written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller called “Wolverine.” It has samurai and other Japanese elements.

Oddly, I wasn’t big on samurai and ninjas in comics or Wolverine growing up as a kid, and I wasn’t keen on the yakuza samurai elements in this movie either. The movie seemed slow paced at times but had enough general action to keep you watching. The odd part is that I liked Pacific Rim because of it’s Japanese monster movie roots, but was not keen on samurai/ninja/yakuza elements.

It was good but not great. I think if one is a fan of the character of Wolverine, they’ll have liked it more than I did. To me, Wolverine is a one-dimensional character. He’s angry and will pop his claws to stab you if you look at him the wrong way. Over time, Wolverine becomes a much better developed character than he was in the 80s. He’s become a much more heroic character and less of a “Wolverine stab!” kind of character.

The relationship between Logan/Wolverine and Mariko helps him move past his overwhelming grief about the loss of Jean Grey. For me, what made the movie the most fun was the inclusion of Rila Fukushima as Yukio. Yukio is Wolverine’s bodyguard. She’s loyal and kicks butt.

While watching her, I felt like there must be more in the comics than what was in the movie. The relationship between the two made me want to know what happens next.

 That said, there’s an encounter between Magneto and Professor X toward the end of the movie that was really cool and seemed to come from out of nowhere. I’d really like to see the next X-Men movie which I presume will star Patrick Stewart as Xavier, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Since Brian Singer let it slip he’s directing the X-Men: Apocalypse movie, I’m now looking forward to seeing that.

I can’t put my finger on it yet, but the movie felt like it was missing something. It had a lot of the right elements in it to make it a good movie, but something felt like it was missing. It was slightly better than okay and definitely worth watching if you’re an X-Men/Wolverine fan.

I’d give it 3 out of 5 adamantium claws.

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