There was a point early on in 's robot vs monsters smash-a-thon when Gipsey Danger - backed by a industrial rock soundtrack - emerges from the broiling ocean like Goya's Colussus. The two pilots responsible for bestowing life into the hulking machine were moving with a balletic symmetry that only siblings and those that are drift compatible possess.
And then Gipsey Danger upper-cut a monster in the face.
Now, I know that Pacific Rim was not the best movie of 2013, but there's something irresistible about watching robots and monsters going claw-to-fist and it is without doubt the most fun I've had watching a blockbuster since last years The Avengers.
I also think it was the most important blockbuster of 2013. Let me explain.
As movie consumers we're used to seeing the summer schedule filled with sequels, reboots and comic book movies. Big-budget output is dominated by franchise fare, because as far as the studios are concerned, why would you try and build a new fan base for an original movie when you can simply mine box-office gold from pre-existing sources. It makes complete commercial sense, but it also leads to a complete lack of ambition from the studios and a summer blockbuster season that can feel repetitive and cynical.
It proved that an original big-budget movie that wasn't based on popular source material could find an audience and make money
That's why it was vitally important that Pacific Rim was a commercial success. It proved that an original big-budget movie that wasn't based on popular source material could find an audience and make money. If Pacific Rim had been a flop it would have been easier for studios to retreat further into their creative shell and in ten years from now we'd only have G.I. Joe 16 and Transformer 9.2 to look forward to. No true movie fan really wants that.
Pacific Rim was also important because it re-energized the blockbuster as art form. Del Toro is an auteur who crafted a universe with an honesty and humor that is becoming increasingly rare these days. There was none of the miss-placed earnestness and ridiculous religious iconography that plagued Man of Steel or the cynicism and crassness that pours out of every movie. Pacific Rim was a return to the old-fashioned ideal of blockbuster as pure, cynical-free entertainment. Del Toro realizes the ridiculousness of the concept of robots fighting monsters but he invites the audience to share the joke. And because we're part of this shared experience, we can forgive the occasional misstep and celebrate wildly when they get it right.
Put simply, Pacific Rim was a blast that had a heart of robo-gold. And sometimes that's all you really need.