a website by Paul Mison.


Pacific Rim, Tumblr, and me

notes 22:16:50

Why would I see a film three times?

On Saturday, I saw Pacific Rim in the cinema. I’d also seen it on the weekend of release, in IMAX 3D, and in mid July, in 2D. Evidently, there’s something I like about it.

I’ve seen other films at a cinema multiple times — Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey are the most obvious examples — but never before have I rewatched a first-run film, at least not that I can remember. I’ll be the first to admit that Pacific Rim isn’t up to the standard of those two science-fiction classics, but it obviously has something going for it, despite the fact that many of my friends felt it was lacking. What is it, and why don’t they see it?

I think it’s Tumblr, and fandom more generally.

I remember having a bit of a discussion about the relationship between Raleigh and Mako as I came out of the film the first time, as I’d already noticed how unusually (but pleasantly) unsexual it was, but it wasn’t until I started tagsurfing Pacific Rim on Tumblr that I realised other people had noticed the same thing. The fine folk of Tumblr had also noticed many similarly interesting decisions: the respect for non-American culture, avoidance of civilian casualties, valuing working together over strength, visual intelligence, careful use of insults, subverting the male gaze and dragon lady, and costuming.

Then there was the fact there was an obvious and instant fandom, gender-bending the characters, shipping Newt and Gottlieb, discussing their disabilities — and how little they count for within the film — with famous science fiction authors singing its praises. Hell, there’s even been a JaegerCon, on the day that Trespasser came ashore in San Francisco.

Yes, I even know the names of the kaiju that are barely on screen. (Shut up.)

With all of that, it’s not surprising that I reacted to a grumpy day at work by going and re-watching, catching all the things I’d missed, listening again to the sounds, voices, and music, and it just cheered me up. I was able to leave it a few weeks, but once I saw that the DVD wouldn’t be out until at least October, I thought I’d catch it again.

Pacific Rim isn’t exactly original — it’s a fusion of two venerable genres — and it’s not exactly realistic either. That said, it’s more novel than Comic Book Franchise Film 3: The Conclusion, better-directed than any other science fiction film I’ve seen this year, and generally just damned good fun. Why wouldn’t I see it more than once?

(This post is also on Medium.)