Monday, July 29, 2013

"Pacific Rim" Really Reminded Me Of...

...Independence Day.  I know most people have been comparing it to Transformers, which I suppose makes sense on the giant robot level, but I found that there were more story connections with Independence Day.
Before I go any further, let me say that I love this movie.  This is in no way a slam or an accusation of Pac Rim being a rip off (see, I even used Pac instead of Pacific, like a real fan would).  I don’t put much stock into rip off accusations these days since everything can be tied back into some influence on the filmmaker.  I just want to point out some similarities I noticed.  And, for the record, I like Pac Rim much more than Independence Day.  But I do have a lot of fond memories of ID4 since it came out when I was 12, and it’s one of those movies I’ll always remember seeing in the theater.  Anyway, in no particular order, here are some things I noticed.

(Of course, MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead for both Independence Day and Pacific Rim.)
1. A leader of a desperate group of people suits back up to join the fight AND he gives a rallying speech before he does so.
"Today, we are cancelling our Independence Day!  Wait...what?"
In ID4, the President, played by Bill Pullman, continues to lead the country even though it appears increasingly hopeless.  Idris Elba's character may not be the President of the United States, but he is certainly the man in charge of the jaeger program.  Both Elba and Pullman give thunderous speeches, and then go on to join the fight personally.  Although Pullman does survive (but Elba's sacrifice connects with another aspect of the movie...
2. A pilot(s) sacrifices himself so the mission can succeed.
Cousin Eddie (can't remember his character name) AKA Randy Quaid plays the sad sack of ID4 who is able to redeem himself by going on a kamikaze run to help save the day.  Elba and his Australian co-pilot also sacrifice themselves to the overall mission can succeed.  Honestly, this is the weakest of the connections since Elba and the Aussie aren't in need of redemption as much as Quaid.  Sure, the Aussie is a bit of a punk throughout the film, but he's hardly as reprehensible as Quaid's deadbeat dad.  But I still count this as a connection.  Especially since there is the father-son dynamic in both films as there's a tearful goodbye when the sons know their fathers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
3. A piece of alien technology is needed to reach the aliens to destroy them.
They're both wearing glasses, so that means
they look alike...
Big Willie Style and Goldblum couldn't just fly an F16 up to the mothership to blow it up (or infect it with that super hi tech laptop that can somehow sync up with alien technology...), they needed to use alien hardware to get there.  Jax Teller and his new girlfriend couldn't just take a jaeger through the portal, either.  In the case of Pac Rim, the kaiju are basically genetic hardware created by the aliens, which the humans can use to transport into the alien world.  In both cases, the humans are successful and return to a hero's welcome.  Oh, and it seems like the aliens in each film looked similar.  I guess all of the good designs were gone by the time they got around to the actual alien masters on the other side.  No big deal, though; they only get a few seconds of screen time.
4. A crazy scientist is used for comic relief AND for communicating with the aliens.
I saved the most obvious connection for last.  When I saw Charlie Day pop up with Burn Gorman, I immediately thought of Data in ID4 (Brent Spiner for you non-trekkers, and that crazy scientist guy for those of you who have only seen ID4).  The scientist in ID4 serves the same basic purposes as the duo in Pac Rim.  First and foremost, they are all the main comedic relief of the film.  Sure, with ID4, it's pretty much just, "Look at how crazy this guy is!" while Pac Rim is only a little bit of that (since Charlie is as obsessed with aliens as Data), and there's more plot elements with the scientists.  But it's still a fairly obvious connection.  What seals the deal is the fact that the scientists are used as vessels of communication for the aliens.  In ID4, it's just used for threats and whatnot, while in Pac Rim it's more like humans spying on the aliens.  The point is the scientists of both films connect with the aliens.  Oh, and doesn't Charlie even look a little like Data's scientist?  Maybe I'm stretching it too far with that...
That's it.
So there are my connections.  Are there more?  Probably.  These are the most general and obvious ones, in my opinion.  What do you think?  Am I completely reaching here?  Did I miss some obvious ones?  Let me know.    


  1. "since Elba and the Aussie are both upstanding characters throughout and are not in that much need of redemption."

    Actually, the Aussie is the son who acts like a d-bag through most of the movie. His father is the upstanding one who gets injured and cannot go, which is why Elba's character suits up.

    1. Agreed. I've edited it a bit. Thanks for pointing it out.