'Pacific Rim' for better or worse is a straight up love letter to Japanese cinema - both live action & anime. The script I read is certainly an odd one & feels like a mish-mash/hybrid of all things Gainax. There's equal parts Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion & Gurren-Lagann in the mix. Whatever changes the film has gone through between this draft & it's release next year, this is a film that should get anime nerds foaming at the mouth. The closest film I can think of in comparison to this is THE AVENGERS. Both films are very nerdy properties that should play to mainstream audiences. And like 'The Avengers' in regards to comic books, while PR doesn't do anything particularly new with the genre of giant robots vs. monsters, just the chance to see these similar tropes played out on a big screen with full Hollywood production values will make it a real treat.
The core story has a lot of heavy Evangelion overtones. We're somewhere in the near future (I believe the script said 2025, but don't quote me on that) & the Earth has fallen into a period of constant tension. A decade or so ago a rift to a parallel universe (the Interstice) opened up in the Pacific Ocean & on an irregular basis giant Monsters (Kaiju, lol) come to our side of the rift & cause genuine chaos on both sides of the Pacific - hence the title 'Pacific Rim'. Like Eva, the initial attack from these monsters was an apocalyptic event & now the Earth has become a giant battle zone constantly on alert to fight these monsters whenever they arrive. Like the Angels, the arrival of these Kaiju can't be foreseen & like Eva the only weapons capable of actually harming these creatures are giant robots called Jaegers driven by two pilots who are mentally synched up. It sounds like a mix of Eva & Gurren-Lagann. Unlike Eva though, the Kaiju can attack anywhere along the Pacific so pretty much every giant coastal city has a Jaeger or two ready to go into battle. So instead of just Tokyo-3 you might as well say there's a Los Angeles-3, a Hong Kong-3. Lol.
Our heroes are Raleigh (Charlie Hunnman) & Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), two professional Jaeger pilots from either side of the Pacific who have both lost their co-pilots in battle. The higher-ups decide to pair these two up in one of the older Generation 1 Jaeger's - a Prototype or Test-type?
- to act as preliminary team until a new Team can be brought in. Hinjinks ensue as the two pilots have to learn to work together despite neither speaking the others language, cue laughter. How this highly prepared military organization doesn't realize Mako can't speak English & Raleigh speak is beyond me. The first half of the script is dedicated to these two getting to come together as a team. Raleigh is dealing with the death of his co-pilot brother & Mako is dealing with her memories of witnessing the initial Kaiju attack. Basically, Raleigh comes off as a 23 year old Shinji minus the insecurity complex (and any real interesting character traits) & Mako is a kind've hybrid of Rei & Asuka - I don't think this is accidental, I mean hell, this is how she's introduced:
MAKO MORI (22), sits catatonic, her arm in a sling. Her hair hugs her face in a helmet-like Chinese bob. She has firm and quiet bearing.
Chinese bob haircut? Arm in a sling? Sound like anyone?
Anywho, back on track - needless to say about half way through the script the two pilots finally do start to synch properly & circumstances arise to make them go from a Preliminary Unit to being a core team. (In what I hope is a scratched element of the screenplay, the two pilots speak in their own language yet because they're properly synched they fully understand each other. This is handled in a rather stupid sounding way of whenever Rinko speaks in Japanese her voice is badly dubbed over in English & as the story progresses the dubbing gets smoother until she's just speaking English at the end. Why Raleigh is never described as speaking English & dubbed over in Japanese is beyond me.) So Raleigh & Mako become a solid pilot team - I.E. they're fucking each other - & the second half of the script basically has them become the super elite fighting team taking monster after monster down. The whole film climaxes with an ending lifted right out of Gunbuster where the heroes pilot down through the Rift into the other universe & use their Jaeger as a nuclear bomb to blow up the rift from the other side. The heroes jettison their Jaeger & get through the rift just in time to make out & float on the Pacific ocean. Roll credits. As an aside, I wonder if Warner Brothers is worried that this exact ending was JUST done by Iron Man in 'The Avengers'.
Well... okay, I threw a couple thoughts in my synopsis, my bad, just the way I am. Lol. Anywho, I've never made it a secret that I think the idea of Live Action Evangelion is a STUPID ONE. Turning Eva into a Hollywood franchise would require stripping away so much of what really makes the story work that it might as well be called ROBOTS VS. MONSTERS. You certainly couldn't keep a bunch of hormonally charged & emotionally damaged 14 year olds as your leads. The film would have to be so far removed from what makes Eva Eva that it would make all the claptrap about "Is Rebuild worthy of being called Eva" meaningless.
If there had to be a live action Evangelion it would end up being 'PACIFIC RIM'. Which I'm totally okay with!
The story here is fun (if shallow) & the draft I read is certainly in need of polish. It's a summer blockbuster for sure & suffers from a great deal of the usual blockbuster problems but it sounds like a real BIG & UNIQUE summer blockbuster. I can certainly see why Del Toro would have such a hard on for this property because there is literally a new monster every couple pages or so & they sound like Angelesque creatures right up his alley. Here's a few descriptions:
Kaiju TENGU -- A horrific skein of dozens of viper heads on long sinuous necks erupting from a body like a naked bat.
PHARAOH -- Something between a scarab and a bull, with vicious mandibles and long horns like a rhino beetle.
SCUNNER -- Beige-hued skin lends it a disturbingly human look; but grotesquely misshapen, joints bulging and twisted. A skull-like face, jaws over-crowded with jagged teeth.
Don't those all sound like wet dreams for Del Toro?
There's a lot right with this draft though, it sounds like a definite crowd pleaser & while I might see more than there actually are, the references to Eva come fast & often. There's even a scene in a Tokyo bar with tons of battle scenes from various animes play on massive flat screens & Evangelion is mentioned by name.
1. Like a summer blockbuster the character work is pretty shoddy - Raleigh & Mako's character archs are pretty much over by page 60 of a 136 page script - but if the actors have the right charisma they should be likable enough.
2. Way too much time is spent with Charlie Day & some bland hot blond (she might have been written out in later drafts) as they travel around the world to visit Doctor Exposition (not his real name). If there aren't drastic changes to the script literally 50 minutes of this movie is going to be handed over to Charlie from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" to give us various forms of exposition. I'm assuming the crazy doctor they spend 20 pages with is played by Del Toro staple Ron Perlman. I'll look forward to his work only to see how they will sell the idea of Charlie Kelly beating Hellboy in a fight.
3. Escalation is an issue. The Kaiju's are referenced in meteorlogical terms. Hence, a Category One Kaiju is a pretty weak affair while a Category Five Kaiju is Zeurel level destructive. Near the end of the second act one Category 5 monster shows up & it takes everything for our hero pilots & another team (their best friends) to take it down. It's a massive set piece & would make for a great climax. Problem is literally 10 minutes later after this conflict ends the full on final battle is enforce &
the other Jaeger team has to take on 3 Category 5 Kaiju at once & win. Not to mention our hero team are in the Monster realm able to hold off dozens of Kaiju as they get ready to explode. Say what you will about Eva, every Angel felt like a real obstacle to be overcome, but here things start coming off like Gurren-Lagann or Dragonball Z. A monster is only an obstacle until it's defeated once, but after that it's no longer a big deal. Just think how in DBZ Frieza was the most powerful villain until the world until Goku took him down & after that everytime they brought Frieza back after that he'd always go down like a bitch. It makes the Kaiju less of a threat.
There's a lot more I could say but I've already dragged this on far too long. Basically, from the humble beginnings on the page, 'Pacific Rim' has the potential to be something really special for us Evangelion fans. This movie truly renders a live action Evangelion redundant & I can't wait to see how Del Toro is going to bring this wonky universe to the screen. It's a very out there idea for Hollywood filmmaking & with Del Toro on hand it should be a really solid night at the theaters.
I just hope Anno & Co. can get Evangelion 3.0 + 4.0 out in the world before 'Pacific Rim' shows up & potentially steals a lot of their thunder.