American Studies 316
In the movie Pacific Rim, humanity builds giant robots called Jaegers in response to titanic monsters called Kaiju. The machines proved useful in the war until the Kaiju adapted, forcing politicians to doubt the Jaeger program’s viability. The humans finally seal the Breech to cancel the apocalypse but not without casualties. Two of the major themes in the movie are collaboration and optimism. These two themes allow the humans to overcome the giant hurdles that are the Kaiju.
Collaboration allowed humans to defeat the kaiju, a task nobody can do alone. At the beginning of the film Raleigh Becket, the protagonist and narrator, states that after the first few kaiju attacks, “the world came together, pooling it’s resources and throwing aside old rivalries for the sake of the greater good.“ The Jaegers are big robots that require a lot of resources to build but by the world uniting, enough resources could be procured to make the giant robots. In the final battle, the two remaining Jaegers, each piloted by 2 people, bring the fight to the enemy. In order to clear a path, Marshal Stacker Pentecost decides to sacrifice the Striker Eureka to “clear a path for the lady”. The lady in question is Mako Mori, Raleigh’s copilot of the Gipsy Danger and the marshal’s foster daughter. Chuck Hansen,the copilot, agrees with his partner, stating “my father (Herc) always said, if you have a shot, take it”. Before the Jaeger exploded, Mako tells Pentecost “sensei, I love you” in Japanese but the words were not translated. When Mako says goodbye to her mentor, she understands what needs to be done and the lack of subtitles highlights the depressingly necessary nature of the tactic. The need for 4 people and the heroic sacrifice reveals that some problems cannot be solved by 1 person. Such is the nature of war in real life: unlike the movies it is not one person who achieves victory, it is a combined effort between people that does. The collaboration in Pacific Rim reminds me of Big Hero 6, as both films require a team of people to take down the antagonist.
In addition to collaboration, optimism is another factor that allows the humans to defeat the Kaiju. In Pentecost’s motivational speech he states that “today we are cancelling the apocalypse”. In this scene he is standing tall and speaking in a loud and determined manner. He is very confident that humans can defeat the monsters. All the weapons in the world are useless, if nobody is believes the battle can be won. If people don’t believe that they can overcome a difficult situation, they run the risk of falling into a self-fulfilled prophecy: if you believe you will fail, you will fail. Pentecost also displayed optimism when he was talking to the UN representatives when they want to cancel the Jaeger Program, for the machines were being destroyed faster than being built. The marshall’s response was to ask for one last chance and his voice was quite firm. As a compromise, the representatives told Pentecost to take all Jaegers to Hong Kong and will cancel funding after 8 months. The fact that the politicians need to be convinced reveals that although optimism is helpful, not everyone has the same degree of faith and sometimes a compromise must be reached to achieve a goal. Optimism driving the plot reminds me of Orleans, for Fen’s belief that the baby will have a better life on the other side of the wall that motivates her on her journey.
In Pacific Rim, the humans defeated the kaiju with their collaboration and optimism. The cooperation between humans is what allows them to fight the kaiju but their belief in victory is ultimately what leads them to win. By working together humans can overcome great obstacles but without optimism, the weakest link in the chain becomes much more brittle.
- Big Hero 6. Dir. Don Hall and Chris Williams. Perf. Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez. Disney, 2014. Blu-Ray Disc
- Pacific Rim. Dir Guillermo del Toro. Perf. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini. Warner Bros., 2013. DVD
- Smith, Sherri L. Orleans. New York: Penguin, 2013. Print