Let me say this immediately, lest anyone think this is a bad film: It is not, by any means, a bad film. I really, really enjoyed it. Guillermo del Toro obviously loves giant monsters and giant robots, and he is exceptional at world-building and visual details. Considering this was basically a live-action Anime, it packed an emotional punch that had me almost in tears at one point and actually crying at another. It was also scary as all hell in some places. Not because of the violence or gore (there's surprisingly little, considering it's giant robots fighting giant monsters), but because the survival of the robots and thus their pilots is so precarious. The Mary Sue has a very nice review of the movie here, if you're interested (beware some minor spoilers). It was a great movie and I'm sure I'll be seeing it again.
But (and there always is one, alas) for a movie that was so wonderfully surprising (I never expected to cry during a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots), it was also surprisingly predictable. I mean, how many of you awesome flisties haven't guessed who's going to kak it from the trailer alone? And if you've seen the trailers, then the first death is pretty obvious too.
A hell of a lot is pretty obvious, actually, but that's just narrative stuff, and it was kind of fun being able to point out to my less movie-savvy son what was likely going to happen next because that's what happens in these kind of movies. A little less fun was how the young hothead was Australian, the twitchy, over-excited scientist was American, and the twitchy, uptight mathematician was of course a Brit. Or how the Russians were large, taciturn and smirkily aloof, and piloted a Jaeger (the giant robots) that looked like something out of Bladerunner as envisioned by Stalin. And that death we all saw coming in the trailer, which was the worst. Can't filmmakers ever think of using anyone other than stereotypes?
Though it was pretty cool that one of the two Russians was female. Considering that in the movie the whole world has been fighting the Kaiju for years and populations have been decimated, one might think that the sibling or parent/child teams chosen to pilot the Jaegers might include at least one pair of sisters, or a father and daughter (or, hey, a mother and daughter) instead of yet another pair of brothers or father and son. Don't get me wrong--Mako Mori is an awesome female character. But I really wish she wasn't one of only two. Charlie Hunnam is nice to look at, and Raleigh Becket, the character he played, was sweetly heroic. But 'Raleigh' is a perfectly acceptable girl's name, and the wonderful 'chosen family' relationship between the two main characters wouldn't have been diminished in the least if Raleigh actually had been a woman. Hell, I think it would've made the movie even better.
Less predictable, too, in the best way possible. And wow, would I ever love that.