Turning the clock back to this past Tuesday, days before I fell down with this cold and what feels like years ago, I saw Pacific Rim with a friend and then got steak. When it comes down to pure quality alone I may shock you by saying that the steak was much, much better than the film. I wanted to hold every bite of that steak in my mouth for an eternity.
My love for food aside, there was something that I really, really enjoyed about Pacific Rim, and to set aside the obvious it was not robots and giant monsters throwing down.
Reading on will spoil parts of this movie, which I actually think you should go out and see. It also spoils parts of Man of Steel, which you know my opinion of.
See, what’s really, really neat about this movie is not the immense scale of the fight scenes, the thought put into the costuming, the international scope of the film’s conflict, or even how awesome Hannibal Chau’s [played by Ron Perlman] shoes were.
What I thought was really, really neat about this movie was how there wasn’t a romance subplot shoehorned in.
Context is needed, of course. Giant monsters [Kaiju] are coming out of the Pacific and so giant robots [Jaegers] are created to fight them. Each Jaeger is controlled by two pilots, etcetera etcetera. The two pilots and protagonists who we are called upon to root for are as follows:
A pretty good-looking bunch of young people, if I do say so myself. Just the kind of couple who you’d assume would get together by the end of the film, brought together by the life-changing experience you share with another when you’ve psychically linked with them to control a massive monster-stompin’ mecha. Perhaps with a kiss.
To look at another of Hollywood’s biggest summer blockbusters for a sec, Man of Steel features the ageless romance between Clark Kent and Lois Lane, two crazy kids who have known and interacted with each other a mere few days. This doesn’t stop them, however, from locking lips at ground zero of the devastation caused by an alien world-destroyer.
And it’s not just Man of Steel, romance [and make outs] abounds all over the place. Heck, one of the focal points in Despicable Me 2 is that Gru [a pointier-nosed Steve Carell] is finally going to find love. That is a children’s movie. It is all spectrums of cinema, you guys.
There is a little bit in Pacific Rim where, as they’re suiting up, Raleigh turns to Mako and says something goofy along the lines of “I’ve always been bad at timing,” but that is offset by the fact that when they have accomplished their mission and they are waiting together to be picked up at the end of the movie THEY HUG.
That was as much emphasis as I possibly could have placed on those two words. We are talking about two people who have literally melded minds and memories and who have looked death in the face and then punched it with a super-sized mechanical fist and they, in spite of centuries of movie plot convention subconsciously causing us to beg them to, did not kiss.
And I’m not the only one to notice this, either. We have this tumblr user stating in far less words how the end of the flick made her [him?] feel:
Yup, I’m pleased about something that did not happen in a film. Now don’t get me wrong, a part of me wanted them to kiss (I know I’m a sap) and when they didn’t I felt frustrated. I wanted that release (this is getting creepy). However, I remember at the end hoping they would not kiss. Why? because their relationship was not there. It would have felt very forced and contrived. Sure, they certainly eyeballed each other a couple of times, they were very close, they seemed attracted to each other, and they even flirted a little, but they weren’t there yet.
Guillermo del Toro [director, producer, and screenwriter] or whoever else helped with scripting made the decision not to have the film’s two conventionally attractive protagonists snog and I am all about that. As CrazyCajun777 said above making the two characters kiss would have felt forced, but even then look at everything they had to work with!
That is easily a billion times more reason for two people to kiss than “you’re a superpowerful alien who is pretty hot and saves, at the very least, me quite a few times” and “you are a spunky reporter who speaks her mind and appears when and where it is convenient.”
Anyway, this was not supposed to be a Man of Steel post; as linked to above, I’ve written that already. This is about a filmmaking choice that I applaud so hard this might as well be a Fame Day. It’s a slap in the face of the idea that a kiss always punctuates the end of a movie, that it is what is “supposed” to happen. Two attractive heterosexual characters of the opposite sex spending a moment together not as romantic partners but as friends moving towards that.
The only kisses we got in this film were the sweet, sweet kisses of shipping containers smashing into Kaiju faces, and that was something I was okay with.