Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Atlantic Rim (2013) Review

Atlantic Rim poster
Atlantic Rim robot mech
Atlantic Rim robot vs monster
Atlantic Rim robots fighting the monster in Manhattan
Atlantic Rim crazy guy with an eye-patch who wants to nuke shit
Atlantic Rim mech robots vs sea monster
Purchase from Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD

Similar films: Pacific Rim, Robot Jox, Transformers

Director: Jared Cohn
Stars: David Chokachi, Treach, Jackie Moore, Graham Greene
Genre: Mockbuster, Science Fiction, Giant Monster, Mecha

Don't let the title fool you (even though that's what it's meant to do), this is certainly not Pacific Rim. This is Pacific Rim's lackluster distant cousin who no one pays any attention to: it's Atlantic Rim, a mockbuster from The Asylum, the same guys who brought us classic mockbusters like Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, and Mega Piranha.

The plot is painfully simple: for reasons that are never explained giant monsters rise out of the sea and the U.S. military has to defeat them with their three giant robots piloted by three pilots. There's some guy who wants to nuke New York for some reason, and there's a weird love triangle that never goes anywhere at all. That's really it.

Don't expect good plot here. The Asylum says that on average their films take a couple of months to make. And it shows. Also, the entire script was based off of the Pacific Rim trailer. Yes, just the trailer.

What seemed odd to me was how no one really even seemed to acknowledge that there were giant sea monsters attacking New York City. No one questioned why it was happening or anything, they just sort of excepted it. It's almost as if there were no actual monsters there at all and someone just added them in during post-production to make it seem like those people were actually looking at something. Oh wait, that's exactly what they did.

No practical effects here, folks, not a shred. It's completely CGI, and by low-budget mockbuster standards the effects are actually pretty passable. But by any other standards they're very mediocre. Not awful mind you, just mediocre. It think this film may still have the South Korean Reptilian from 1999 beat when it comes to CGI. Still not saying much.

The effects are definitely sufficient enough to get the intended job done. I could have easily looked passed the crude effects if the monster and robot designs were creative. Unfortunately they weren't. The mechs look very generic; all three are identical aside from different color lights. Even more disappointing is the monster design. There's more than one monster but you may not realize it because they all look exactly the same. I can understand the mechs being identical, and I get that the monsters are from the same species but shouldn't they at least look a little different? for the sake of pleasing the viewer if not for anything else? I mean, this film isn't exactly scientifically accurate; they had the opportunity to go completely over-the-top and make the movie fun but they completely missed it. What were they going for? Realism?

The fight scenes are also only mildly enjoyable. The scene where the shoot a bomb into the monster's mouth while a robot pries its jaws open was pretty great (and also featured a pretty hilarious cameo by the director himself as an fighter pilot). There's not much else worth noting though. Again, the fights weren't awful, just extremely mediocre. There's also a very low level of building destruction which is sure to disappoint many.

The acting is, as per usual for films from The Asylum, some of the worst you'll ever see. Among the main cast are David Chokachi (whom only the most die-hard Baywatch fans might remember) whose performance is terrible. The there's Jackie Moore, who is heaps better than Chokachi when it comes to acting, but still fairly bad. Then we have Treach (rapper from Naughty by Nature) who is arguably the best of the three pilots in terms of acting. Finally there's Graham Greene whom, though not particularly skilled, delivered a deadpan performance that I actually found to be pretty likable. And even though all the acting falls into varying degrees of bad, the actors all seem to be having a fun time and enjoying themselves, which adds a certain light-hearted and self-conscious nature to the film that definitely doesn't hurt matters. 

It's not a good movie; it's dull and uninspired, but you probably didn't need me to tell you that. It's enjoyable enough if you want to kill 80 odd minutes though. And, if like me, you're so excited to see Pacific Rim that you can barely contain yourself then this might be a decent way to satisfy some urges. Ryan Lambie from called it an "unofficial prequel" and "enjoyable primer for Pacific Rim". There's some truth to that, but then again, you can just read the actual official prequel to Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero, which is much better.

1.5/5 stars

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