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Face-Off: Pacific Rim vs. Godzilla (2014)

06.16.2015by: Brian Bitner
Hard on the heels of JURASSIC WORLD, the giant meanie movies of 2013 and 2014 are here to screech and throw each other into buildings. Geek favorite Guillermo del Toro finally brought the long awaited PACIFIC RIM to life in 2013, and Gareth Edwards resurrected everyone's favorite kaiju in 2014's GODZILLA. For two movies that sound like they should be pretty much the same thing, we are looking at two vastly different films which rarely handle similar subject matter in the same way. Ready? Fight!
CAST
Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr., Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini

PACIFIC RIM has a fine roster of actors, but most of the supporting cast are treated as little more than cartoon characters, and even the leads are directed to fairly flat performances.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn

GODZILLA takes itself a bit more seriously, thus giving its actors a chance to actually act. As expected, Bryan Cranston knocks it out of the park during his short time onscreen, and the Maximoff twins deliver sufficiently emotional performances.
PLOT
Attack of the giant flying electric monsters!

Waves of kaiju attack through an interdimensional portal while humanity strives to fend them off with giant manned machines known as jaeger. Meanwhile, two scientists attempt to give humanity a leg up by interfacing with the kaiju hive mind.

PACIFIC RIM is a story we haven't quite seen before, so I'm giving it the edge here. Also, humans are actually responsible for saving themselves in this one.
Attack of the giant flying electric monsters!

Two MUTOs walk toward each other in the interest of destructively making out and raising a family while Godzilla attempts to take them both out. Humans pretend they have a say in the matter.

Okay, humans destroy the MUTO eggs and transport a nuclear warhead to a safe location; that is absolutely significant. As far as the immediate MUTO threat, however, the outcome would be the same if humanity had simply sat back and watched Godzilla do his thing.
VISUALS / ACTION
PACIFIC RIM's eyes were a little too big for its stomach. Both the visuals and action are handled well, but the mentality of, "let's just do every crazy thing we can think of" ultimately results in scenes that feel too over the top, CGI-laden, and illogical.

Case in point, it's pretty fantastic when Gipsy Danger strolls in holding an ocean liner and proceeds to use it as a melee weapon... until a few minutes later when it's revealed they had a f*cking SWORD this whole time. A sword is not your last resort in battle, people.

Also, elbow rocket.
GODZILLA, taking a page from Gareth Edwards' previous film MONSTERS, keeps the action far off and incidental for much of the movie. This allows for a greater build of tension and immersion into the story, which also makes the action a bit more believable when we finally get to it. This technique is used a little too often, though, which we'll get to in the next segment.
FUN
Okay, before you all nerd rage too hard about the last category, I will happily admit that PACIFIC RIM's lack of logic or boundaries makes for a fun, very watchable movie. Just when you think you've settled in, some new craziness happens that keeps the kid in you happy.
Due to the more sober tone of GODZILLA, we don't end up with a very exciting film. Even the dramatic aspect of the story peters out after things get going with the beasties, so we're left somewhere in no-man's land with a dramaless drama and a monster vs. monster movie without much monster vs. monster... until Godzilla breathes fire down a chump's throat until his head comes off, that is.
CRITICAL RESPONSE
IMDB: 7.0/10
Metacritic: 64/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
JoBlo.com: 6/10 (9/10 - Chris Bumbray's take)
IMDB: 6.5/10
Metacritic: 62/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
JoBlo.com: 6/10
WORLDWIDE GROSS
$411,002,906
$528,676,069
IT'S A TIE!
Ultimately, both of these films fall in the "good not great" category, and it really comes down to what you want to see in a movie like this. PACIFIC RIM is a ton of fun if you turn off your brain but almost insulting to anyone looking for logic or gravitas in a summer blockbuster, while GODZILLA is a more well-balanced effort but doesn't deliver nearly the fun, intensity, or explosiveness one would expect from a movie about wrassling monsters. I have NO DOUBT you will have something to say about this matchup, but regardless of your preference, look for PACIFIC RIM 2 in 2017 and GODZILLA 2 the following year!

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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