‘Pacific Rim’ Loses to ‘Grown Ups 2’ – Have We Lost Our Inner Child?


The release of both Pacific Rim and Grown Ups 2 this past weekend and their respective box office intake raises a growing concern on the current state of not just the film industry, but on those who keep it alive: us.

What many a human with an IQ surpassing 100 feared came true: Grown Ups 2 made more money than Pacific Rim at the box office, while the latter film’s takings were rather disappointing.

However, I don’t see what’s so surprising. I, for one, can understand why many filmgoers would consider Grown Ups 2 a better film than Pacific Rim. The former was directed by the great Dennis Dugan, but, like, who the hell’s heard of Guillermo Del Toro? Also, most people like to ignore them, but the opinions of the critics do matter, so it’s understandable why anyone who’s going to spend $10 on a movie ticket would prefer to spend it on a Adam Sandler comedy than to watch robots and monsters bash each others’ brains out for 2 hours. With reviews like, “A movie of fools, by fools, for fools” and “ the lazy, scattershot and anything-but-mature sequel to the leaden Grown-Ups” coupled with a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 20 out of 100 score on Metacritic, Grown Ups 2 does seem like the obvious choice.

On the other hand, who’d want to waste their time with a movie as critically panned as Pacific Rim, with scathing reviews such as “Pacific Rim, thank the gods of cinema, is the work of a humanist ready to banish cynicism for compassion” and “a titanic sci-fi action fantasy that has been invested, against all expectations, with a heart, a brain, and something approximating a soul,” along with a pathetic 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to go along with its mediocre Metacritic score of 65 out of 100.

Pacific Rim Robot
Giant robots defeated by a bunch of grown ups? (© Warner Bros.)

For any idiots that did not pick up on the sarcasm above, stop reading now and do something useful with your life like, for example, getting one. For those who did, an argument I made a while ago, regarding the quality of filmmaking and the quality of audiences is now given more credibility: the problem is NOT the quality of filmmaking, and for one reason. The very fact that Grown Ups 2 is able to perform well at the box office (which, sadly, dictates the future of awards successes and the continuation of any film franchises these days) is a clear indication that there is a market for these bad films that will ensure the continuation of their over-abundance on the silver screen.

Now, many of you who cried “duh!” at the aforementioned statement perhaps did not consider it hand-in-hand with the imminent “implosion”- Spielberg and Lucas recently spoke of this, but in a different light – that is about to hit the film industry. Soon these bad films that make all the money are going to totally dwarf the number of potential good, great and masterpiece films – on a big and small scale, commercial and independent scale – that might have graced our movie screens were it not for the successes of golden trash. At The Mountains of Madness, a film Guillermo Del Toro wanted to make (one which I’d stand in a queue forever to see) was never green lit because the studios didn’t want to take a risk.

However, maybe I’m being pessimistic, and maybe Pacific Rim (a hands downs masterpiece which sets the benchmark for blockbuster filmmaking) reminding us of why we started going to movies in the first place, can make its money back and then some, thereby ensuring the continuation of the resurgence of these epic monster vs. robots films, making sure they have a future. And while Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla reboot has yet to hit cinemas until next year, it is scary that history could repeat itself and forever dissuade studios from taking risks, in a world marred by economic instability. From visionary blockbusters like Cloud Atlas to cult hits like Fight Club, to independents like Moonrise Kingdom and The Grey, all of these bombed at the box office. I consider all of the films above to be masterpieces yet none of them broke even.

© Warner Bros.

What can we do? It’s simple: educate. What can studios do? Simple: market their potential masterpiece-failures better. Pacific Rim was, unfortunately, a victim of bad marketing, but through word of mouth, like Inception, it can still potentially thrive at the box office and crush that utter crock of shit that is Grown Ups 2.

Tell all your friends about Pacific Rim. Talk to people about how much you loved it. I know I’ll be seeing it multiple times, as I would any Guillermo Del Toro movie, as it reinvigorated my sense of wonder and reminded me once again why I want to be a filmmaker: to astound and to touch the hearts of the human race with wonder. It made me feel like a kid again living at a time when the sky wasn’t the limit: it was just another playground.

The irony is that many people think that this film is a senseless action flick for 12-year-olds – not a glorious fantasy epic with strong characters and themes centering around love, revenge, heroism and family – and would therefore opt for the more adult, or “grown up” picture, a comedy with Adam Sandler, about “old bullies, new bullies, schizo bus drivers, drunk cops on skis, and 400 costumed party crashers.”

There’s something rather juvenile about that.[subscribe2]

About Raoul Dyssell

Raoul Dyssell
Raoul Dyssell is a screenwriter, director and producer as well as founder and head of Roll the Dice Pictures. He lives in Seoul, Korea, where he is currently completing his directorial feature debut, ‘Amiss’.


  1. Wonderfully visceral, yet reasoned article. This really voiced a lot of the similar frustrations I experience at seeing a masterpiece suffer at the expense of man-made dog shit.

    Hollywood may indeed be heading for darker times, but I would like to point out that Hollywood is no stranger to these types of self-esteem issues. I still find it funny that Spielberg and Lucas are being so gloomy about Hollywood’s future when it was out of just such a period of time in 1981 that their own careers had started to rise, and continued to define Hollywood survival of that shaky time for Hollywood.
    The 1981 crisis of confidence in Hollywood, where by about this time in the year (July) only 3 out of 15 major studio pictures released had turned a profit, was a result of a transition period in commercial films, whereby Spielberg and Lucas had practically invented the notion of the Blockbuster with the likes of Jaws, Star Wars, 1980’s Empire, and indeed in itself 1981 itself Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    With that, I’d like to surmise that we are going through merely a transitional period here. Yes there will be dross. Yes there will be major studio flops as there are every year, and yes, as a business model, Hollywood will evolve its thinking and, with a bit of luck realise its greater assets, such as Pacific Rim, and market them properly. As how can it not? Hollywood will of course be cancelling the apocalypse.

    I also commend Mr. Dyssell’s comment battle with another user on pop mythology Jess Kroll. Although I ought to further define the quintessential point that neither of you quite made it to – Kroll was completely wrong in their cliche remarks – the reality is there are recurrent genre-specific tropes that will continue to emerge, but at the heart of most good films, and to a greater extend most great art, what we do not see necessarily are cliches, as you mentioned, but the same thing, only different. That might come across like an oxymoron, but it’s what keeps the genre fresh and engaging, much the same with Silver Linings Playbook: We may see the story laid out amid some generic conventionality, but the way the story is told is anything but generic, which is why the film was so wonderful.

    So yes, good work in educating the filmically-retarded.

  2. I’ll buy two copies of the Bluray and even watch it again just so Pacific Rim can generate enough good will to pave the way for a Gundam or Macross film, and hopefully not turn into that POS Dragonball movie.

    • 123, so will I! I respect your appreciation and loyalty toward Pacific Rim. It’s us, the audience, that can help ensure that the film succeeds financially, and educate, as Paul Stafford so wonderfully put it, the “filmically retarded”.

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