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How Does ‘Godzilla’ Stack Up Against ‘Pacific Rim’?

Godzilla

A few days back a good number of readers took issue with my review of Godzilla, which was the kind of thing I would have hoped they would do after they had actually seen the movie. I stand by my review, but I want to point out one thing – it was mixed down the middle. The 2.5 out of 5 score was very deliberately meant to indicate that there was still just as much to like (for me) as there was to dislike.

In the comments, I was asked how this film compares with last year’s Pacific Rim. Good question. Both are giant Kaiju movies. Both are Legendary/Warner Bros. films. And both get a lot right. Mainly, they get their Kaiju right. As I noted in my Godzilla review, the new movie’s treatment of the big guy is fantastic. Not only are his scale and appearance imposing and powerful, but there’s a lot of strong character work going on in the pixels that animate him. You get what his objectives are and you can even understand his battle plan. Gareth Edwards does such a good job of getting you on his side that there are several moments during the end battle that will make you want to stand up and cheer, regardless of your feelings on the rest of the movie.

Edwards also does a fantastic job of setting Godzilla himself up. Seen only in fits and starts, from a series of fins protruding from the water to brief full body glimpses, he retains a satisfying sense of mystery up until the end. There, the film goes whole hog on the full body shots as Godzilla and one of the MUTOs wage war in San Francisco. Godzilla might wear you out with its human characters, but there’s no monster or battle fatigue.
PACIFIC RIM

Pacific Rim, on the other hand, wears you down a bit on both fronts. I believe that Rim would benefit from perhaps one less robot on Kaiju battle scene, just as I believe that the film suffers from a huge missed opportunity when it comes to developing its concept of “the drift.” The final version of the film explores surprisingly little in the way of character possibilities offered up by that conceit. It’s the perfect scenario to make the chances of overcoming external obstacles contingent upon the triumph over internal obstacles. There’s a little bit of that with Rinko Kikuchi’s character, but the movie could have gone full (as a friend once suggested) Strictly Ballroom here, with Hunnam and Kikuchi learning to work together – to dance – in a way that fuels their ultimate romantic entanglement.

While Pacific Rim has hugely broad characters, they almost sort of fit in with the old fashioned innocence of the film. It feels like Guillermo del Toro engineered the movie as something of a futuristic riff on those old WW2 propaganda reels, so the broadness feels earned (even if I personally find some of it grating). The characters in Godzilla are broad in a different way – they’re ciphers. There’s nothing cartoonish or exaggerated about them, which puts them miles away from the Pacific Rim universe. They are fairly bland. However, if the intent was to reduce their function to POV access points, they get the job done superbly. Since much of Godzilla is built around a slow, Jaws-like reveal, it helps to have plenty of different characters on the ground who can gape at his majesty without giving away the money shot every 5 minutes.

Pacific Rim boasts a higher quantity of Kaiju with varying designs and sizes. Its beautiful rainswept neon environment keeps them at arm’s length from our current reality. The destruction brought upon us by Godzilla and the battling MUTO’s feels much more recognizable, the terror more relatable. As I’ve said before – the monster stuff in Godzilla is fantastic. The set pieces are alternately suspenseful and grand and they don’t overdo it. The only fatigue you’ll feel from this movie is from the half-baked exposition that threatens to destroy all of the human scenes.

As far as preferences go, I’d have to see Godzilla again before I decided. While my review demonstrates a degree of disappointment, there’s enough praise coming from people I respect to warrant a second look. As it stands now, Pacific Rim beats it out for me as a movie – but the character of Godzilla himself is better than any single element of GDT’s film.

Maybe it comes down to this. If you like your Kaijus as beautifully anonymous cannon fodder, Pacific Rim wins. If you want them to be characters you can root for, Godzilla stands triumphant. Either way, if you like big lizards, you’ll probably be fine.

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  • http://doomas10 doomas10

    Interesting comparison! I loved PR despite its flaws, its aesthetic was great and the kaijus themselves very intriguing visually. Del Toro managed to infuse some human element in the battles for the save of humanity. On the other hand, I am watching Godzilla tomorrow on glorious IMAX and so far the trailers have done an incredible job. And to be honest, I would not care much as what is superior. I want to see monster mayhem on screen! More on that tomorrow!

  • Michael D. Goscinski

    Great review!! I think you’ve been fair to the film… I will be seeing it this weekend. I loved Pacific Rim. I like how Del Toro filmed the Kaiju fight sequences. Every time I watch it I see something new. My biggest worry with Godzilla is that it would be too Americanized. It can’t only be CGI, it needs to retain the characteristics we’ve all come to love in the great Kaiju films.

    • Saren Nevac

      Godzilla is CGI, but, he was motion controlled by an actor. Andy Serkis was helping as a consultant so it is a person in a suit. Just that the suit is a motion controlled one.

    • idiosonic

      What do you want from a 2014 movie. Once scene Godzilla is tearing up San Francisco in Amazing CGI then the next scene he is a little figure being controlled by wires like the originals?

  • dman99999

    only problem i had with the review was the score i just dont see how stinkers like devil’s due and PA the marked ones could be rated higher

    • EvanDickson

      I totally get that. While I don’t think those movies are necessarily stinkers, the score stuff can be tricky.

      Here’s how I generally use a score – “does the film succeed on its own terms? Is it as good as it could have been with what they had to work with?”

      The scoring system isn’t perfect. But I used the 2.5 out of 5 to reflect how split I was on the film. To illustrate how successful the movie is with the monster, but how badly it fails with the other half of things.

      Do I think you will enjoy GODZILLA more than DEVIL’S DUE? Yess

  • dman99999

    only cool thanks for clarifying

  • Bobby Price

    You make Godzilla sound like Amazing Spiderman 2(a real POS movie). If yours was the first review I read then I might be devastated as a fan. Thankfully there are other sites with other opinions and word of mouth is saying a lot of good things about this movie, so I am still psyched to see it. Pacific Rim was like a cartoon brought to life for me, I still get sucked into it when I see it on HBO. The Sacrament on the other hand…..fucking awful. Watched this one recently based on yours and a couple other reviews, I dunno what you people get out of these movies like this, it’s like watching Hostel or Human Centipede but with religious psychological torture porn instead of the run-of-the-mill sadist sick fuck torture porn.

    • EvanDickson

      No you just don’t know how to read. Did you read this article? Did you read the actual review where I praise the director and Godzilla himself?

      • WhoreWhisperer

        Should have gave it a better rating. Aren’t you the same guy who always slams The Walking Dead too?

        • EvanDickson

          Who cares? Why do you care? What do you do in your life that you are upset with me giving the exact definition of a mixed review?

          Yeah, I don’t like WALKING DEAD. It’s fucking boring.

          • FromHeroesToDust

            So are a good 75% of the movies you give good reviews on.

          • EvanDickson

            Zing!

          • Tom

            Man you sure are a pretentious twat that just lives to see his name in print. Asshat.

          • WhoreWhisperer

            Walking Dead is one of the biggest shows on cable right now. And giving Godzilla 50%. That’s a failing grade in just about everything else. Is this movie really that big of a turd?
            Sometimes you come off as more pretentious than objective.

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            Calm down mate. It’s his opinion. If you do not like it, write your own review. Jesus

          • WhoreWhisperer

            Godzilla wasn’t perfect, but has he even seen the rest of the older Godzilla movies? They were corny on a good day. ED is just too cynical and self-important to understand that most movie goers who go to see a film like Godzilla just want to have a good time at a theater.

            Dickson is the kind of guy who would watch a porno and then bitch that the actor playing the pool boy looks too old for the part. Most normal people wouldn’t give a fuck as long as the chick is hot and the action is good.

            Just like with Godzilla – he destroyed buildings and kicked other monster’s asses. What more do you want?

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            He is entitled to do so like you are. Problem is whatever reasoning your opinion might hold, you instantly lose points since you bring up swearing and nicknames like a 5 year old boy.

          • WhoreWhisperer

            But I should gain some points for not mentioning ‘fist-fucking.’

  • Fred Cee

    Fuck you, Evan Dicksuck! Just FUCK RIGHT OFF!

    • Erick Lorinc

      calm down. I’m sorry he has an opinion

    • http://doomas10 doomas10

      Are you serious? So he HAS to like a film because you say so?

  • Golic

    this reminds me of all the fanboy butt hurt after some early reviews of Prometheus were pretty negative. People get so caught up in the hype, that they can’t bare to hear that what they’re excited for may not be all the high paid PR team made it out to be. I’m not at all surprised; I’ve noticed films that releases clip after clip after trailer after trailer after poster after poster tends to suck. Why else would the studio feel the need for so much publicity? I’m guessing after Friday, many will agree with your review.

  • c-s-a78

    how about make your scale out of 10 not 5.that will shut everyone up on here!lol.

  • allen

    . How did EvanDickson get a job as a reviewer here? He has 3 twitter followers.

    • EvanDickson

      A. It’s not about twitter followers. B. You’re looking at my mod disqus settings for the site, not my twitter account.

      For example, you have ZERO followers on Disqus.

      • allen

        Didn’t answer that first question.

        • EvanDickson

          I submitted a writing sample. Mr. Disgusting liked it. Have a nice life

  • Justin Cantrell

    Godzilla and X-men Days Of Future past are the movies I want most this year.And I am also looking forward to The Green Inferno and The Human Centipede 3.

  • ThunderDragoon

    Awesome. Can’t wait to see it.

  • Werewolf

    Evan says the humans suck, but Godzilla is cool. Why are people mad about that?
    I don’t think any of us are going to see this thing for the acting.

    I’m just proud the film has at least one authentic Japanese guy. It’d just be weird otherwise.

    • EvanDickson

      Exactly. If all you want is GODZILLA, you will be happy.

  • brewers_rule

    I think this exhibits the reason people need to formulate their own damned opinions regarding movies and stop listening to single critics they like or dislike. Personally, I see little use for critic reviews overall considering you can get so much these days via social media word of mouth or from a site that combines both critics & average joe’s like rotten tomatoes where Godzilla’s getting a whopping 84% fresh right now and Pacific Rim got 72% fresh, far different than Evan’s so-so review of the two. If you like Evan’s critiques, take it as a part of a whole what you hear about a movie, not as gospel, and decide whether you wanna see it at all from there. Don’t attack the guy for giving his opinion which BD obviously has asked him to do.

    • allen

      Nothing wrong with giving an opinion of an opinion.

      I’m just saying maybe BD should get better reviewers. Just look at the guy’s history.

  • CellE2057

    What I’m getting from you is that the whole movie is based around building up Godzilla, which has the side effect of making everything else in the movie seem lackluster. Is that accurate or am I reading it wrong? Also…..something, something, something….fuck you, Evan….something, something….I disagree therefor you shouldn’t have a job….something, somthing, something…..Walking Dead rules.

  • marklola12 .

    I always find it hilarious that people try to argue with someones personal opinion which is what every review is
    Funny thing is most of you morons have not even seen the film yet.

    GROW UP..go watch the movie and if you like it then good if you don’t then good but either way get on with your life instead of moaning that someone scored it lower than you would
    i do think scoring systems should be out of 10 though.

  • zombie84_41

    who cares u still suck LOL

  • Dan Rodriguez

    My biggest problem with Pacific Rim is that the movie gets less interesting in each view. I’m adept of viewing films I love multiple times, that’s why I’ve seen The Avengers 5 times, and each Lord of the Rings film 10 times, because each view is full of enjoyment and fun, but with Pacific Rim, each view made me like the film less and less so I’ve decided to never watch it again, or I might end up hating it. I didn’t had the time to do the same thing with Godzilla though.

  • Dan Rodriguez

    And about Godzilla, a lot of what I’ve heard of negative criticism is sort of a disappointment by the fact that the film is slow paced, which in my opinion was perfect because it build the tension in a fantastic way.

    • Master99

      Which is the same formula used in all 28 other Godzilla movies (29 if you consider the 1998 remake a Godzilla movie). That is why those Godzilla fights always stand out in our minds while we forget the rest of the movie, they are just there to build anticipation.

  • Dutchman61

    Pacific Rim feels like a film which was forced into a time length format. I would bet that there is a lot of really good stuff that fills in the gaps, but they cut it for time reasons. The back history of the Beckett brothers has hints of a lot of missions, but little information. Raleigh Beckett actually reminds me of several WW2 fighter pilots I met. They were successful (one had 7 german kills and another had 4) by trusting their own training and instincts and all lost friends who died flying “by the book”. I saw “Top Gun” on Thursday on HBO and tom Cruise’s character has the same traits. Mori actually tells Beckett that his non-conformity should disqualify him. That side story was ripe to develop especially after the other three Jaegars were defeated by the two Kiaju in Hong Kong harbor and Beckett kills them both. That fight also touched on Beckett solo piloting Gypsy after his brother was killed when he takes over left functions to hold the 2nd kiaju while Mori vents the coolant. There was also clearly deleted things on the Chinese and Russian jaegar crews.
    Another area that was dropped was the two scientists and the drift with the kiaju. Fans clearly understood that the information went both ways and the kiaju learned about the plan to drop the nuke in the rift. That could have been developed more, but might that not be the opening for the sequel? The Kiaju creators will know just how near to winning they were and they will try again. And those two will be at risk of being turned against humanity?

    I do think that one thing that sets Pacific Rim apart from most of the monster stuff is portrayal of the jaegar pilots as dedicated fighting men and women who willingly go out to fight a loosing battle. They don’t have the right equipment or support, yet they still go out there. The scene in Alaska were the Marshal recruits Beckett to come back captured it perfectly. No whining about second chances (which was originally filmed), but rather a bold statement warrior to warrior about how to meet our doom. That was excellent.

    I hope they make the sequel.

  • Ulysses Sotomayor

    People need to understand that you don’t insult someone just because you disagree with them; you argue your point of view and exchange ideas. That’s how people grow intellectually, not by closing up and saying “Fuck you, dickhead, PS4 is better than Xbox One, pussyfag”.

    I never respond to anything on the internet, but this guy is just pointing out what he thought of a movie, and it’s okay if his point of view does not coincide with yours. Everyone thinks differently and has different opinions, if you want to state yours just do it, but don’t bash someone just because they’re expressing what they think, that makes you intolerant and intolerance has taken it’s toll through out human history, we don’t need it on the internet.

  • Zack Daley

    here’s my thing, I give Godzilla and the MUTO’s a 9, but I gave the human scaled story a solid 3. It’s serviceable, and it’s 70′s blockbuster screenwriting 101. Together you get a 6. However, on the human side of things, we get the scene stealing of Bryan Cranston, who just dominates the screen in every take he’s on screen for. Then you have Elizabeth Olsen giving it everything she’s got and stealing every frame she’s in, but her character is literally nothing but a walking Spielberg face by the end. Then you have Ken Watanabe, who looks like his face is half paralyzed and his character is supposedly this expert on Kaiju’s, or he’s at least positioned that way and he literally acts like he’s never seen one before in his life THE ENTIRE DAMN MOVIE. I couldn’t take it seriously, and him and Cranston were two of my most anticipated reasons for even going (Besides my lifelong obsession with Godzilla).

    Whewww… glad I got that off my chest.

    But for me Pacific Rim is a world I’d rather spend time in again. I loved the world and the potential, both in it’s past and future. It’s obvious that they “won” and saved the day, much like Han, Luke, and Wedge do at the end of Star Wars, and it’s obvious that the sequel would most likely deal more with both the Precursors (I’d hope we’d get to see more talking, and more of their universe. Establish them as characters, and not fodder) and the Drift. A concept I’m sure was toned down for the audience, but should have been the focus (but it’s understandable to me.) and I’m really hoping that with Godzilla being a massive hit, and a sequel already announced as being in development, we could get a Pacific Rim 2 sooner, rather than later. Or a TV show, I’d love to see a TV show with a young Raleigh and Yancy, as well as other pilots like Chuck Hansen and Stacker.

  • John Sotomayor

    “There’s a little bit of that with Rinko Kikuchi’s character, but the movie could have gone full (as a friend once suggested) Strictly Ballroom here, with Hunnam and Kikuchi learning to work together – to dance – in a way that fuels their ultimate romantic entanglement.”

    One of the many reasons why Pacific Rim works so well as a film for me is because there is *no* romance between the two leads. I was so worried in that last scene where they embrace and put their foreheads together that they would kiss. That just would’ve ruined so much of their development for me.

    Finally, we get a character like Mako who is more than just “exotic” flair to the white male hero. She is informed but not defined by her cultural heritage. And she doesn’t end up as some prize for the lead to win. They’re in this together–the drift, the Jaeger, the fight against the Kaiju–and their bond is stronger than anything we can imagine. Romance is beneath them.