The monster-versus-robot action movie “Pacific Rim” (2013) was subsequently novelized by Andrew Irvine. Before reviewing the book version, a recap of the film may help.
I saw the movie “Pacific Rim” after it was released for home video. For the life of me, two or three years later, I can’t remember a single scene. It’s not that I remember it being bad. It’s that I don’t remember it at all.
I have a theory on why the movie left no lasting impact on me. Unlike “King Kong” and “Godzilla,” there wasn’t a single kaiju (monster) in “Pacific Rim” to focus on. There were a half a dozen. None stood out. I think “Pacific Rim” tried to compensate for this by turning Gipsy Danger, the main robot, into a central “character.” That may have worked visually in the movie, but in the novelization, Gipsy Danger is difficult to picture. There are minimal if any descriptions of the robot’s appearance (color, size, shape, etc). If Gipsy Danger was intended to be a character, she was a sadly flat one in the book.
Secondly, the human characters in the movie were cookie cutter. On that score, the novelization made much more of an impact. The backgrounds of the characters are laid out carefully and are well-explored. There was more nuance to the Stacker Pentecost character (the officer in charge of war robot operations) in the book than I recall in the movie. The relationship between robot ranger Raleigh Beckett and the female lead, Mako Mori, was engaging. The B-story of Dr. Newt Geiszler’s attempt to mind-meld with a kaiju were a bit silly, even off-putting, but good for a chuckle.
The book was also more effective than the movie in establishing the reason why robots were the most effective means of fighting the kaiju (as opposed to conventional or nuclear tactics). A book format gave the author more latitude to describe the context and historical background of the international defense against the monsters. The premise is still cheesy and contrived, but for some reason it was easier to swallow in the book.
The author used very vivid language and sharp comparisons to convey complex science fiction type material succinctly. Fight scenes, which can be easier to choreograph than to write, were handled well. On the basis of the colorful writing, I would definitely read another Alex Irvine book.
I listened to the novelization in audio format. Narrator Christian Rummel did impressive, captivating work as the narrator.
Pacific Rim is fun. If the movie didn’t float your boat, you might enjoy the book a little more.