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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Pacific Rim

   
Author Topic: Pacific Rim
RyanB
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I found this movie rather enlightening. It must have the worst plot of any AAA movie I've seen in a decade. None of it made any sense. But ...

there were giant robots fighting giant monsters in the ocean. And that's enough for me. The movie has a 7.2 rating on IMDB, which is the same as Ender's Game.

I don't think you could translate this type of success to writing because I think the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief is stronger. Also, films can be charming in their campiness in way that I don't think books can.

It's hard to look away from a train wreck, but I could certainly put down a written description of the same.

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Merlion-Emrys
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The only real problem with the plot was not quite enough explanation of the monsters or their masters. Other than that, it made sense to me...of course, a huge portion of my media intake is Japanese stuff, and Pacific Rim is essentially live action Humongous Mecha anime (which is another reason its so fabulous.)
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RyanB
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So how does Japanese Humongous Mecha anime usually handle the origin of the mechs?

The Transformers (I know they're not really mechs) method makes sense to me: they came from somewhere else from the one spark or whatever. But I don't see any scenario where they make sense as fighting machines.

I guess I understand that the punch is the most fundamental of human attacks, so there's probably something encoded in our DNA such that when we see a huge monster we think ... "if only we could punch it really hard." And then you end up with a huge robot that can punch really hard, that has rockets on its elbow so it can punch even harder.

And which has a sword, but no one would think to use that sword until the monster has sprouted wings and flown you up in outer space.

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MattLeo
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You have to approach a story in terms of what it intends to be, not what you'd like it to be.

The plot in Pacific Rim is as flimsy as its science. Yet it is precisely as substantial as it needs to be. There's a certain artistic integrity to that. Henry Ford once said that the most beautiful things in the world are those from which all excess weight have been removed.

This movie isn't THE GODFATHER. It's not even THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. It is not in any way shape or form a drama. It's pure spectacle, and the plot exists solely to serve up an escalating sequence of giant monster/robot fights. The plot has just enough extra bells and whistles that you can maintain your willing suspension of disbelief, provided that you're not a blockhead or snob who insists on treating it as drama.

Watching this movie with my teenage son, I admired the discipline with which the script got down to delivering exactly what people came to see, and trimmed everything else to a bare minimum. How many old creature of the week movies made you sit through an interminable first act before the excitement?

Pacific Rim wasn't *my* kind of story, but I can still appreciate the craft almost obscenely lavished upon the thing. It's as close to a "just the good parts" giant monster movie as is ever likely to be made.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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When you consider how much creativity goes into the special effects in some of these movies, and you realize that showing off those special effects is one, if not the only, point of the movie, then it seems a little silly to complain that such a movie is nothing but special effects.

It's amazing what can be done now, and even if it isn't Great Drama, it can still be impressive.

We need to remember, as MattLeo has pointed out, that not all creative efforts are attempting to reach the same goals.

I think that if we can appreciate something for achieving the goals it really is trying to reach, then we'll have a better experience with the work.

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
So how does Japanese Humongous Mecha anime usually handle the origin of the mechs?
Well, that's actually not one of my more frequently watched genres, but I think it depends. In Neon Genesis Evangelion, with which I am very familiar, the "mechs" (which aren't really quite like other mechs) the Evas, were...produced...by mankind to fight the Angels and are the only useful weapons against them, since the Angels possess a defensive "AT Field" which can only be breached by neutralizing it with another AT field...which the Evas have.

I'm not all that familiar with Gundam or the other more traditional mech animes, but I think its often just a further development of weapons technology.


In Pacific Rim, as I see it the Jaegers were simply a solution to the problem of attacking giant monsters. Regular weapons were nearly useless and nukes might have worked but have rather serious drawbacks.
It's a fighting like with like scenario. Make giant monsters to fight giant monsters.
The origin I have trouble with is the Kaiju. We learn they were made by other beings as weapons...but not what the masters purpose really is or where they are from.
So I don't really see troubles with the plot as such.

Also, as far as I'm concerned most anything that isn't comedy is drama, of one kind or other. While its certainly true you must assess a story on its own terms, spectacle can exist alongside other things. While certainly not as complex as some, there were other emotional and psychological elements at play. The whole "Drift" concept could probably also have been explored a little more.

Much as I loved the movie my main disappointment was that Del Toro didn't show his roots a little more and make the creatures more clearly Lovecraftian, and present some concrete motivations for that side.

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
We need to remember, as MattLeo has pointed out, that not all creative efforts are attempting to reach the same goals.

So very true. And the next step is to remember that those goals are not necessarily tiered, with some superior to others. Different, certainly, varying in complexity yes. Spectacle has its place and can enhance other effects or purposes in a story.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
The origin I have trouble with is the Kaiju. We learn they were made by other beings as weapons...but not what the masters purpose really is or where they are from.

This bears on an important storytelling issue: how much does a reader/viewer have to understand for the story to work?

I think the motivations of the Kaiju creators isn't a problem for the viewers in the first two acts. The gist of the story is clear: big monsters are attacking, and the heroes have to fight them off. The lack of understanding of *why* they're doesn't matter yet. It's something that *if* we thought about it, we'd wonder, but we don't have to wonder about it.

But when the heroes enter the world of the Kaiju's creators, some viewers were bound to expect that they'd get an explanation at that point. When the Kaiju world proved so alien, those viewers would naturally be mystified as to what the creators want with our world.

Of course we as storytellers ourselves know what's up: the writers never *had* a reason for Kaiju to attack the Earth. The movie was conceived of as a series of escalating monster fights. The reason the creators are there at all is to provide a place one step further offstage where they can dump the question of motive. The Kaiju attack the creators built them to attack. Why do the creators want the Earth attacked? Whoops! Closed the magic door, so we'll never find out. Until it's time to do the sequel. That's a few years for the writers to come up with something.

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
This bears on an important storytelling issue: how much does a reader/viewer have to understand for the story to work?
Well, there's working, then there's working. And there is working for some, and not for others.


Also, its not always just about the mechanics or doing just what is necessary to make a story just function.
But then, I don't really look at storytelling that way anyway, and that's why I dislike terminology like "plot device" and "McGuffin." And I guess that's why the lack of explanation and to a lesser extent the lack of exploration of the potential inherent in the "Drift" idea were the only things about Pacific Rim that disappointed me a little, even though it still did a fabulous job of what I see as its two purposes-epic robot-on-monster battles and creating an uplifting action adventure as a sort of counterpoint to a lot of the dark edgy downer stuff we see.

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RyanB
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OK, let me point out some specific things:

- They said missiles were ineffective so they built the robots. I thought that was ridiculous, but setting aside military technology, one of the robots had missiles in his chest his finishing move.

- The whole "Drift" thing was ridiculous too. Clearly they had built something to track every movement the pilots made and the robots mimicked these movements. When they wanted to do something besides movement they used an LCD screen. So what's with the neural overload and needing two compatible people?

And then when we need the old general to ride with the young hothead ... wait, they're not Drift compatible. No worries, just empty your mind.

- And that unlikely pair who blew themselves up to create a path for the heros ... no one bothered to shed a tear for them, not the hothead's father, not the girl the old general raised as a daughter.

It was like everything that was ridiculous in the film, Del Toro went the extra mile to own that ridiculousness.

And that's part of why it worked for me.

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extrinsic
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I saw Pacific Rim as a more computer graphics imaging spectacular reinvention of the Power Rangers mecha-kaiju franchise, which in turn originates from the Japanese Godzilla, Gojira, franchise, which in turn is conceived of as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, which as folk art expresses Japan's collective consciousness struggles to cope with annhilating defeat at the hands of a nuclear superpower. Japanese kaiju genre folk art film depicts "strange monsters" as a metaphoric allegory for the United States' surprise uses and fears of ongoing uses of atomic weapons.

I expect profound allegory and metaphor, and deep folkloric meaning, underlie the Pacific Rim film, but could not see it yet, as theater audiences for that sort of film spectacular give me screaming horrors.

Film is built for audiovisual spectacle, its greatest strength.

[ November 21, 2013, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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If I may bring another film into the discussion, the 1965 war film BATTLE OF THE BULGE was so historically inaccurate that Dwight Eisenhower came out of retirement to condemn it. It was historically inaccurate becuase it was in effect a thinly disguised daikaiju movie -- it came out the same years as GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE.

Robert Shaw as the panzer commander Col. Hessler was the movie's raging Godzilla, and Henry Fonda as intelligence officer Lt. Col. Kelly was sagacious Dr. Yamane trying to stop the monster with brain power. TBotB even featured iconic daikaiju flick "our tank guns can't stop him" scenes, as American Sherman tank fire merely bounces off the armor of Hessler's Tiger IIs. There are scenes in this movie that make no dramatic sense, unless you realize what they're telling you is that Hessler is transforming from a battle-weary veteran into an unstoppable inhuman war monster.

I suspect the thing that got Ike's ire up about this movie was the way it mythologized the German panzer troops and their commander, while showing American troops at the outset as corrupt, indolent and cowardly. This was probably bad history, but it was good storytelling. Make the enemy formidable; give him mystique. Make the hero vulnerable; give him a story arc where he grows to overcome that mystique.

One unfortunate side effect of this mystique building is that white supremacists today apparently watch this movie as Nazi war porn. It only goes to show you that different people come away from a story with different things.

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Osiris
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I just watched this movie with a bunch of coworkers. I agree that they did a good job of stripping the movie down to show off the pure spectacle of it all.

However, I couldn't help but feel like there were a lot of failures in suspension of disbelief for me. The jaegers come equipped with swords that allow them to slice the monsters in two yet they don't use them until halfway through the movie, after millions of damage in robot hardware is done. If nukes can kill the things, than why not just nuke the beasts rather than build far more expensive robots?

Perhaps part of making a campy movie is intentional disregard for maintaining suspension of disbelief. Yet, I think movies like Starship Troopers and Shaun of the Dead do a far better job of making 'camp' work in the movies. I felt like Pacific Rim didn't quite know what kind of movie it wanted to be. A campy sci-fi movie ala Starship Troopers, or a serious science fiction piece. The dialog for much of the movie was bad, but not bad enough to be funny (with some exceptions). In one very serious scene, the protagonist loses his brother to the kaiju, and in other scenes, we have ridiculous stereotypes of scientists that use a device for mind-melding that contains fireplace bellows as one of its components.

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Merlion-Emrys
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I guess I don't really see some of the inconsistencies mentioned here to be plot issues, as much as worldbuilding and mechanics issues.


quote:
They said missiles were ineffective so they built the robots. I thought that was ridiculous, but setting aside military technology, one of the robots had missiles in his chest his finishing move.
I think its a thing of missiles alone. They did kill the very first Kaiju with conventional weapons but it took 3 or 4 days. I think some of it may have to do with mobility and payloads. An airplane can get missiles to the monster...but only a few (not enough to kill it) and then it has no meaningful means of attack, whereas the Jaegers are mobile and have multiple forms of attack...and can always fall back on hand-to-hand (or tentacle or whatever.)


quote:
The whole "Drift" thing was ridiculous too. Clearly they had built something to track every movement the pilots made and the robots mimicked these movements.
Yes...that's part of what the Drift is.


quote:
When they wanted to do something besides movement they used an LCD screen. So what's with the neural overload and needing two compatible people?
I think one person controlled each side and in particular the hand (remember they also had the circular arm/hand control device, and the three-armed Jaeger was piloted by triplets.)


quote:
And then when we need the old general to ride with the young hothead ... wait, they're not Drift compatible. No worries, just empty your mind.
That was a little convenient and as I said, while I think I get what they were going for with the Drift idea, it was not explored as much as it should have been. Just as many, many movies of many types have elements of this sort that they neglect to devote enough time too.


quote:
And that unlikely pair who blew themselves up to create a path for the heros ... no one bothered to shed a tear for them, not the hothead's father, not the girl the old general raised as a daughter.
Well, everyone was sort of busy. And the movie didn't really have much of a denouement after the threat was dealt with.

At the very worst it had no more inconsistencies than most movies I see and while certainly not perfect I felt it had heart and spirit that went beyond spectacle alone.

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
If nukes can kill the things, than why not just nuke the beasts rather than build far more expensive robots?
Because nukes devastate vast areas...and damage an even larger area...and not just in the way of destruction that can be rebuilt, they pollute them in ways that create problems for years afterward.

If they'd nuked every Kaiju, most of the worlds coastal areas and perhaps, via fallout and such much of the rest of the world would probably have become uninhabitable...or habitable if you don't mind most of the population winding up with cancer and future generations riddled with birth defects.

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RyanB
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
quote:
If nukes can kill the things, than why not just nuke the beasts rather than build far more expensive robots?
Because nukes devastate vast areas...and damage an even larger area...and not just in the way of destruction that can be rebuilt, they pollute them in ways that create problems for years afterward.

If they'd nuked every Kaiju, most of the worlds coastal areas and perhaps, via fallout and such much of the rest of the world would probably have become uninhabitable...or habitable if you don't mind most of the population winding up with cancer and future generations riddled with birth defects.

I agree with you on the nukes, but there are quite a few other options we'd have. We have working railguns which would deliver far more brute force damage than a punching robot. Their working on the ability to drop depleted uranium sticks from satellites and being able to guide them to a target.

I think it was Russia who developed a conventional bomb with the same power as a nuclear bomb without the radiation.

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MattLeo
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If you want to be *logical* about this, the very first question you have to start with is this: how exactly do the giant mecha of Pacific Rim kill the Kaiju?

If I recall there are three effective methods the Jaegers use against the Kaiju:

(1) Directed energy weapons.
(2) Blunt force trauma.
(3) Dismemberment with a sharp implement.

Of the three methods, the only #3 conceivably benefits in any way from being embodied in a giant humanoid robot. Yet even for chopping attacks it is not hard to imagine robot-wars type forms that would be cheaper, easier to build in large numbers, and simpler to deploy and operate. There's only one real reason to build giant mecha: TH3 AW50ME.

So right from the very most fundamental question, this story fails to stand up to the application of hard sci-fi logic. Strictly constructed and logical hard sci-fi is a thing of beauty, and of great rarity.

But there's a strange bit of storytelling magic worth studying here. If you're delivering what the audience came to see, they'll not only swallow flimsy explanations for holes in the story's logic, they'll even make up their own. But when a reader or viewer hasn't entered into the story, every inconsistency shows.

You know what bothered me most about the physical plausibility of the movie? The pavement. Giant robots run all over the place crushing cars and trucks but the pavement seems to be impervious to their weight. Moment to moment the weight of the things changed in whatever way was needed to support the fight choreography.

Surfaces happen to be one of my oddball pet peeves. I notice when a writer sets a scene in what I call a "Flash Gordon cave". That's a cave with what looks like rough-hewn rock walls and a smooth bakelite floor. I always say, "That's not what real caves are like."

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extrinsic
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One area where kaiju conventions cause cultural whiplash is expectations any given esoteric cultural code is universally accessible. Eastern, especially Japanese in this case, cultural codes may not have Western narrative congruents. Further interpretation of Eastern codes into Western cultural expressions cannot help resulting in misinterpretation, which I think is an appeal of the kaiju genre and other esoterically culturally coded genres.
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Osiris
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
quote:
If nukes can kill the things, than why not just nuke the beasts rather than build far more expensive robots?
Because nukes devastate vast areas...and damage an even larger area...and not just in the way of destruction that can be rebuilt, they pollute them in ways that create problems for years afterward.

If they'd nuked every Kaiju, most of the worlds coastal areas and perhaps, via fallout and such much of the rest of the world would probably have become uninhabitable...or habitable if you don't mind most of the population winding up with cancer and future generations riddled with birth defects.

You are thinking only of the strategic nuclear weapons designed to obliterate cities. What I'm talking about are tactical nuclear weapons designed for specific military applications.

We see in the movie the hide of the kaiju can be pierced by a sword, and we see from the dead kaiju that they are as soft on the inside as any large mammal on our planet. It would be far more cost-effective to develop tactical nuclear weapons capable of piercing the organisms after they fly at mach 6 into their hide, deliver the payload inside the creature, and blow it up from the inside out. This would not only be much more cost-effective, but would also help contain the damage radius. For that matter, nuclear explosives wouldn't even be necessary, and to be completely honest, if these creatures could be cut in half by a giant sword, then I am convinced current military hardware would be able to deal with them easily.

So I'm sorry to say, the story does not hold up to scrutiny, and that's perfectly fine if that's what the writers intended and the audience wants. I'm certainly glad I didn't pay any money to see the movie, but nonetheless I was entertained despite the absurdity.

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redux
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I guess most saw a different movie from me.

I thought it was a loving tribute to Ray Harryhausen - a cinematic masterpiece right up there with the best adventure movies (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Star Wars, etc.).

As far as story goes, it was essentially new gods versus old, the Olympians versus the Titans, recast with giant robots and giant monsters. I loved every minute of it.

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redux
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
If you want to be *logical* about this, the very first question you have to start with is this: how exactly do the giant mecha of Pacific Rim kill the Kaiju?

...

So right from the very most fundamental question, this story fails to stand up to the application of hard sci-fi logic.

Conceptually, I don't think this movie was ever meant to be viewed as hard sci-fi. The giant monsters fighting giant robots tipped me off early on that it was fantasy. And so, just as easily as I can accept Anne McCaffrey's time-travel dragons, I can accept jaegers versus kaiju.
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Robert Nowall
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Sidebar thought---I haven't seen and don't know enough about it to discuss it intelligently, which hasn't stopped me before but is stopping me right now---but anyway...

There is, or used to be, a good deal of science fiction that's really fantasy dressed up with some scientific fact to pass muster. The characters would come by spaceship, land at a spaceport, and go off and have adventures with the space angle forgotten.

McCaffrey's "Dragon" stories fit the bill---I think some of it came about from its original publication in Analog when John W. Campbell ruled the roost, and McCaffrey played into Campbell's notions of psionics and added some astronomical detail for color. (And they were terrific stories besides.)

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
Conceptually, I don't think this movie was ever meant to be viewed as hard sci-fi.

Which is precisely my point.

There's nothing wrong with giant monster vs. robot movie. It's to the degree that the movie flirts with hard sci-fi ideas that it loses people who like hard sci-fi. It feels like kind of a tease, in a giant monster action movie that doesn't have room to consummate the promise of hard-sci themes like mind hook-ups.

As for Robert's remarks -- I think a lot of sci-fi is in fact fantasy in pseudo-scientific dress. Any story that involves destiny of any sort -- for example the LENSMEN SERIES -- is from a storytelling standpoint indistinguishable from fantasy.I have come to the conclusion that the difference between fantasy and sci-fi as a whole amounts to little more than set decoration. The real division is between hard sci-fi on one hand, and fantasy together with adventure sci-fi on the other.

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redux
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quote:
It's to the degree that the movie flirts with hard sci-fi ideas
I guess I missed that [Smile] I never got that impression.

For the purposes of discussing how to avoid wrong expectations in a story, what would you have done differently with Pacific Rim? What would the setup be so that viewers know to expect fantasy/pseudo-science versus hard sci-fi?

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RyanB
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
quote:
It's to the degree that the movie flirts with hard sci-fi ideas
I guess I missed that [Smile] I never got that impression.

For the purposes of discussing how to avoid wrong expectations in a story, what would you have done differently with Pacific Rim? What would the setup be so that viewers know to expect fantasy/pseudo-science versus hard sci-fi?

There's a large gap between hard SF and basic common sense. And many elements of the movie violated basic common sense. The wall, the sword, the drift. All of these were internally inconsistent, not just scientifically inconsistent.

And yet the movie still worked. It worked for me and it seemed to work for most people here and for broad audiences.

In my experience that's pretty rare and I'm pretty sure you can mostly chalk it up to giant robots fighting giant monsters.

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Robert Nowall
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Back on fantasy-dressed-up-as-science-fiction...I think when fantasy started emerging as a separate publishing genre post-Tolkien, you saw a fair amount less SF than what I described above. Fantasy could be fantasy directly---one could create an imaginary world with non-SF rationalization for its existence and relation to the world we know.

(Somewhere recently, someone described the works of Leigh Brackett as westerns-dressed-up-as-science-fiction...being a fan of Brackett's work, I can certainly see what was meant by that.)

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
For the purposes of discussing how to avoid wrong expectations in a story, what would you have done differently with Pacific Rim? What would the setup be so that viewers know to expect fantasy/pseudo-science versus hard sci-fi?

The problem I have with your question is that it seems to presuppose the possibility of pleasing everyone.
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redux
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There's a bellows in the contraption Charlie Day's character built to bridge with the Kaiju brain so I'm not going to debate the science because there really wasn't any.

As far as the movie violating basic common sense, again, I never experienced that while watching.

The wall made sense from the standpoint of a last ditch, desperate effort by governments to look like they were doing something to protect the people. That it would be useless and a wasted effort was also established in the movie.

The sword not being used until being in space - well Mako had made modifications to the Jaeger, Raleigh hadn't been in it for 5 years, and it seemed she never go to discussing those changes because they got attacked. Should she have used it as soon as she got in the Jaeger? Maybe. But Raleigh took the pilot position and this was Mako's first real combat. So, that it came as a "surprise" wasn't that big of a deal to me. It was the equivalent of a hero's haymaker after being nearly beaten to a bloody pulp.

The drift was no different from The Force in Star Wars. It was the spiritual component, the representation of the movie's theme of teamwork. It took center stage in the scientists' subplot.

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redux
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
quote:
Originally posted by redux:
For the purposes of discussing how to avoid wrong expectations in a story, what would you have done differently with Pacific Rim? What would the setup be so that viewers know to expect fantasy/pseudo-science versus hard sci-fi?

The problem I have with your question is that it seems to presuppose the possibility of pleasing everyone.
I was just curious about what it would have taken to please someone who had hard sci-fi expectations.
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redux
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
McCaffrey's "Dragon" stories fit the bill---I think some of it came about from its original publication in Analog when John W. Campbell ruled the roost, and McCaffrey played into Campbell's notions of psionics and added some astronomical detail for color. (And they were terrific stories besides.)

I love those stories too. Thanks for sharing that bit of trivia [Smile]
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MattLeo
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I don't think you *could* please someone who had hard sci-fi expectations, but someone who went *into* the movie with hard sci-fi expectations would have be hopelessly dense.

But I think the writers may have triggered some expectations by succumbing to the temptation of making the non set-piece parts of the movie more interesting than they needed to be, even though they didn't have the room t work those ideas out. Take the whole "drifting" concept. It's bound to get viewers of a certain disposition thinking, and thinking is bad in this context. They could have stopped with this: only certain people were compatible *at a motor level*, and that would have provided exactly the amount of plot complication they needed. The ability to read each other's minds was *too much* complication. It made some people start thinking about what that would mean, and when they didn't see the questions raised resolved in the movie they were unnecessarily dissatisfied.

Dialing back the "drifting" concept would have given them room to apply Chekhov's Gun to the sword issue. I'd handle it like this: the girl thinks adding a sword to the guy's giant mecha would be cool. Guy thinks it's a stupid idea; they never needed a sword before. They take the dispute to Daddy ... er, the commander, and he tells them to quit bothering him and get back to work. Guy is smug, girl says this ain't over. She keeps bringing it up with the boss. Sometimes they're in the background and she's pantomiming sword chopping motions. But we don't see who wins until they've got their back against the wall. Girl says, "We've got to go for the sword!" Guy says, "WHAT SWORD!" Out comes the sword. "THIS SWORD!" she says, and the "WTF-a-sword?" moment becomes her crowning moment of awesome.

But then, I write romantic comedies and the rule is the girl always gets what she wants in the end.

Speaking of which, the romantic-ish ending didn't work for me. for one thing there wasn't enough build-up for that to matter. For another the girl just lost her adoptive father. But the ending does need some kind of cathartic image that resolves some human scale tension built up in the script. Romance would work, or it could be that the girl doesn't have the guy's full respect until the final shot, where this is resolved.

I think the story may have made a mistake by making the guy the focus character. I think the girl is more interesting.

[ November 27, 2013, 05:17 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I've said this before, but it connects to some of the discussion here, so I'll say it again.

OSC has said that he doesn't write science fiction. He writes fantasy with science as the magic.

And I submit that, as has been pointed out above, there are many other "SF" writers who do exactly the same thing.

I'm not entirely convinced that there is really all that much in the way of truly scientific science fiction out there any more. But I don't mind, because I'm more interested in interesting characters experiencing science, whether it's "magic" or not.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Ok first off, I have no comprehension of how "hard" sci fi ever even entered this conversation. Everyone has their opinions and definitions but based on what I know of such things, I don't really see where any part of Pacific Rim even really flirts with the concept, and even if there were some small element of that, the overall should certainly have indicated to people that's not the case.
Again, this is an homage to various Japanese stuff and in Japanese storytelling the lines between "sci fi" and "fantasy" and between "technology" and "magic" are often pretty close to non existent.

Next, while obviously there is a difference between hard sci fi sensibilities and common sense...the thing is, common sense isn't that common. Especially regarding the issue of the wall, yes the wall was obviously a bad idea. But as redux says that is even lampshaded in the movie and really how unrealistic is it to depict a large government doing something foolish, expensive and wasteful? Like that's never happened before in real life...

Are there some inconsistencies? Yes. Are there a couple of things that it would have really been awesome to have explored further and more fleshed out? Very much so.
Is the same true of just about every movie ever, regardless of genre or type? In my experience, most of the time yes.


As far as I am concerned, the trouble we have here is, we've got several people acknowledging that they enjoyed the movie...but still feeling, it seems, very compelled to point out its flaws and how it isn't "drama" or anything of any great merit, just a fun spectacle movie without much else going for it.

My thing is...even if that is true...so what? There still seems to be that attitude that media or art that is simply fun and enjoyable is also less valuable than more complex or challenging works. That they must be relegated to the status of a "guilty pleasure."

Plus which, I don't think this movie is completely without merits apart from the spectacle and the action. I think there is some other emotional stuff going on, and a very valuable theme about teamwork and tolerance.


quote:
But I think the writers may have triggered some expectations by succumbing to the temptation of making the non set-piece parts of the movie more interesting than they needed to be, even though they didn't have the room t work those ideas out. Take the whole "drifting" concept. It's bound to get viewers of a certain disposition thinking, and thinking is bad in this context.
It isn't always about what "needs to be" (and who exactly decides what that is, anyway?) While there is nothing wrong with this, I get the impression that your paradigm or view of creative endeavors is very "craft" oriented and analytical. I get the feeling that you see all aspects of a story and storytelling in the manner of clockwork where everything is created by the author (or whatever) to serve a specific purpose and has no meaning or relevance outside of that...and that writers and other creators view those pieces in the same way and include them only for those specific reasons (the discussion about Spock's death in Star Trek 2 is another good example of what I mean.)

There isn't anything wrong with that paradigm, per se and I'm not criticizing you for having it...but bear in mind that some folks, on both the creating and consuming end of art, have a different, more intuitive, emotional and organic view on such matters (or in many cases combine the two.) Sometimes something is included just because the creator wants it there, or feels compelled to have it there, and sometimes what you call a "McGuffin" or "plot device" may have a lot more meaning and purpose than that to the creator and/or to fans of the work.

Occasionally things like the above statement about thinking being bad in that context come off just a weensy bit elitist. I don't think that's what you mean but bear in mind but the implication can be mistaken.
I think its great that folks in this thread have acknowledged the very important fact that works need to be judged in their own arena and context, but I still get a little bit of a feeling that some are indicating some contexts are superior to/better than/more important or relevant than others. I could be completely wrong but I think that is the underlying reason the discussion has continued as long as it has.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
I get the impression that your paradigm or view of creative endeavors is very "craft" oriented and analytical. I get the feeling that you see all aspects of a story and storytelling in the manner of clockwork where everything is created by the author (or whatever) to serve a specific purpose and has no meaning or relevance outside of that...and that writers and other creators view those pieces in the same way and include them only for those specific reasons (the discussion about Spock's death in Star Trek 2 is another good example of what I mean.)

You are right to detect that craft-oriented strain in my thinking, but incorrect in reducing my thinking to that.
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redux
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This article on TOR sums up a lot of my thoughts on Pacific Rim.
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Merlion-Emrys
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I wasn't reducing, at least not intentionally. Just observing. Your posts typically indicate a tendency toward the analytical, technical and perhaps a touch cynical, over intuitive, emotional or idealistic(positive or negative) aspects. There is nothing wrong with that and I don't assume that is all there is to your thinking...again, just observing.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
I wasn't reducing, at least not intentionally. Just observing. Your posts typically indicate a tendency toward the analytical, technical and perhaps a touch cynical, over intuitive, emotional or idealistic(positive or negative) aspects.

That's like saying my posts indicate a tendency towards everything -- which I'd choose to take as a compliment, provided "everything" is understood to be "in moderation". [Smile] Just a touch of cynicism is a useful thing now and then for a writer to have.

I think of writing craft in the same way as, many years ago, my professor explained the field of economics in her very first lecture. "Economics," she said, "is about the consequences of the fact you can't have everything you want." As an author you can't have everything that you want. Consequently it is valuable to study the consequences of the kinds of choices you make while writing.

I see the inclusion of the sci-fi complications to the human-scale story of Pacific Rim as neither intrinsically good or bad, but having both good and bad consequences. The question is, how do they serve the story as a whole? My personal opinion is that the movie works just fine as a giant-monster-vs-robot flick without those touches, but that they spoil the film for a certain fraction of the viewers.

Note very carefully what I'm *not* saying: I'm not saying that the elements in question didn't work for the people who thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I'm saying that most of those people would have enjoyed the movie anyway, and that some of the people who were on the fence about the movie would have enjoyed it more without them.

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