I certainly hope you’ve all watched the fantastic web series “How It Should Have Ended.” If not, go there right now and spend a few happy hours getting caught up. This whole series is devoted to asking the one question that Hollywood never seems to ask anymore: “Why don’t they just...?” and they’re pretty good at ruining your favorite movies forever. For instance, it ‘s pretty hard to enjoy “Lord of the Rings” once you’ve started to ask questions like “If the eagles can fly them home, then why not have the eagles fly them there in the first place?
Of course, most of the time, we just suspend our disbelief and give the movie the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I frequently find myself creating excuses for movies, inventing reasons to explain to myself why things couldn’t happen in a simpler way. But then there are examples I can’t even hear the dialogue because of that pounding drumbeat of “WHY DON’T THEY JUST...?” Pacific Rim might be the worst example ever. Say it with me: “Why didn’t they just nuke the monsters??”
This was the sort of thing where I had to go online immediately afterwards to find out if I was just slow on the uptake...but no, a quick google search reveals that lots of other poeple had the same question. Of course, for each post, there are rabid fans defending the movie, but their defenses make no sense. One claims that it was because that would spread out the monsters poisonous blood too much, but doesn’t more blood spill as a result of being chopped in two in the middle of the ocean than from being incinerated?
Once again, I found myself inventing explanations just so that I could make it through the movie, but I kept failing:
- Maybe the monsters are impervious to explosives and only vulnerable to hand-to-hand combat? Wait, no, that doesn’t work because the robots themselves launch missiles at the monsters! Why do that up close instead of long range??
- Maybe the monsters feed off of nuclear energy and it just makes them stronger? But wait, our heroes go to their dimension to nuke them there at the end, so wouldn’t that just... Ah, screw it.
When we looked at Groundhog Day, we saw that the filmmakers wanted their viewers to ask, “What should Phil do with his day in this town?”, instead of a lot of other questions that might arise, so first they took five minutes to cleverly clear all of those questions off the table, leaving the audience to naturally ask the one question they wanted us to ask...
Pacific Rim also wants us to ask only one question: “How can we use these robots to defeat these monsters?” But in order to get us to naturally ask that question, they would have had to clear several more obvious questions off the table first, such as “How else could we defeat these monsters?” Unfortunately, they just couldn’t be bothered, so the audience just rolls their eyes the whole time.