What is life but a series of unanswerable questions?
Who among our ancestral gene pool was the first to stand tall and question our very being? What purpose drives this relentless force we call life ever onward? Where do we go when our breath escapes us one final time and we depart this mortal coil? When, if ever, will we learn the answers to the unfathomable questions that both plague and define our existence?
Why does watching a giant robot put a giant gorilla monster in a head lock and then punch it in the godamn face make me so madly, deeply, truly happy?
For those unfamiliar director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Pacific Rim, it follows the exploits of giant robots, their fists, and the deployment of said fists into the theater of war that is giant monster faces.
There’s more to it than that.
From the unknowable they thrust, like an asteroid bringing about prehistoric extinction, a bolt of lightning connecting the Earth to the heavens for the briefest of moments, or a pair of tables hurtling down from on high emblazoned with the very word of God, massive robotic knuckles curl steel fingers into bludgeons and crash into the wrong, the unjust, the corrupt, the evil faces of giant monsters.
There’s more to it than that. I just don’t care.
Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman all turn in fun performances in Pacific Rim.
Like ants on the outskirts of a picnic of Gods they scurry across the screen, their significance infinitely dwarfed by forces so far superior to themselves as to be wholly unknowable even whilst staring them in the faces. The forces of twin suns, nurturing innumerable organisms on innumerable worlds in their orbits as they explode into brilliant blues and oranges and yellows, hurtling light millions of miles away through time itself, a scar of the moment a supernova of a giant robot fist punched the shit out of a giant monster face.
Guillermo del Toro’s directing is masterful.
His cameras capture that which the minds operating them cannot comprehend, like a crude Rosetta Stone translating the melodies of angels into the barbaric, twisted tongues of man. The fist: that ageless symbol of war and peace, conquest and protest, the indomitable resolve of the human spirit. The face: presented to the world perpetually, a curtain over a window into the very soul, the very essence of ourselves, our friends, our families and our enemies. Their symbolic dwarfing of their literal, anatomic nature made flesh and steel as they collide, giant robot fist into giant monster face. And like a humble syphon between humanity and the very will of the universe itself, del Toro commits each collision to film.
Much as Gravity aroused in me an overwhelming sense of primal anxiety, one that went beyond culture or language and was instead simply human, Pacific Rim stirred a fundamental happiness deep within me.
Pacific Rim showed me that a movie about giant robots punching giant monsters in their terrible faces is exactly that.
And so much more.