Above is the trailer of the movie ‘Pacific Rim’, directed by Guillermo del Toro, the biggest blockbuster of summer 2012 which grossed $411 million dollars worldwide. The film presented the same motive with many others Hollywood films as it depicted the world trying to overcome its end. The story was about human fighting against monsters to protect their own planet with weapons are giant robots controlled by pilots. Beside excellent movie graphical techniques, the makers have imported into the movie several elements which distinguish it with others of the same genre in order to mark it a ‘transnational film’. Transnational film can be defined as a film which ‘draw upon structures of hybridity to meet increasing demand for glocalized content within globalized distribution networks’ (Schaefer and Karan, 2010).
Hollywood fans have a joke that each summer comes, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are destroyed again. It sounds weird but if we look at the recent sci-fi action blockbusters, the background of the fights are normally in the US, in particular are the cities mentioned above (The Dark Knight series, Transformers series, etc). Therefore in Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro decided to bring the war to a totally different but familiar region, Hongkong. The fact that this beautiful Asian paradise is the last place standing and it is the only hope of human race rather than America has created great appeal to Chinese and bigger, Asian audiences. Moreover, the crew represents the diversity as the main director is Mexican and “the stars are a melange of British, Asian, Russian and Australian, some speaking with American accents, some not”. (Timmons, 2013).
However, those are not enough to make it a transnational film. The main element is the characters. First of all, the Jaegers (name of the robots) are stereotypes of the countries they represented. Crimson Typhoon, belongs to China, can be recognized at first sight as a made-in-China products from its flashy appearance and name which resemble the color of the national flag. Its signature attack, Thundercloud Formation, is also inspired by Kungfu. The Russian robots named Cherno Alpha features exactly what is always thought about Russian products. Ancient, blocky design but optimal efficiency, ‘old but gold’. It is also painted with patterns of the T-series Russian tank.
‘It is about the world saving the world’, said Guillermo del Toro.
But is it actually is ?
The Chinese Jaeger Crimson Typhoon was equipped with state-of-the-art technology but was defeated easily in the beginning. This detail led to the complaint of the South China Morning Post: “Why are the Chinese characters in the film the first to die?” (Timmons, 2013). Cherno Alpha, the Russian one, which had gained huge reputation from its fight history, ended up eliminated right after its Chinese teammate. Two deaths in only 5 minutes of display. Striker Eureka, the latest and strongest Jaeger which is from Australia, was luckier as it was only neutralized. Finally, the rescue came from Gypsy Danger, the main robot character, and of course, is an US made. And that was only the first fight.
When the fight was getting to an end, both the Australian and the American Jaeger collaborated. However, it was the Australian which had to sacrifice for its teammate to make the last hit. Furthermore, among the two pilots controlling Gypsy Danger, the Japanese girl was unable to stand until the last minute and we have “a standard white hero that ends up saving the day” (Timmons, 2013), which is American.
To wrap up, Pacific Rim deserves an Oscar awarded by the UNO for being a transnational but still high-grossing film. However, it could not make it, because it is only ‘an international movie created through a Hollywood lens’ (Timmons, 2013).
Lucky for the fans that this movie will have its sequel, and ‘maybe next time, they’ll let the Chinese guys save the day’ (Timmons, 2013).
- Schaefer, D J and Karan, K 2010, Problematizing Chindia : Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows, SAGE, vol 6(3), pp. 309-316, available at http://gmc.sagepub.com/content/6/3/309
- Timmons, H 2013, By trying to appeal to the world with Pacific Rim, Hollywood may have made a movie that no country can love, available at http://qz.com/109082/by-trying-to-appeal-to-the-world-with-pacific-rim-hollywood-may-have-made-a-movie-that-no-country-can-love/