I’m still coasting on a high from last night’s Pacific Rim showing, not to mention picking over my schedule to try and figure out when I have the time to go see it for the second time. If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, but plan to, you might want to use the excuse to engage in a time-honored tradition of movie fans everywhere: the double feature.
Since we here at GFR love you all and want to make your life as stress-free as possible, we’ve already done the legwork for you. That’s just how we are. Scroll on down for five excellent candidates for your Pacific Rim double feature.
Walking out of Pacific Rim last night, a friend and I were discussing the fact that we we have no idea how director Gareth Edwards and the Godzilla remake hope to follow the bar set by del Toro’s movie. Honestly, trying to out-spectacle it is doomed to failure. Instead, Edwards’ Godzilla needs to take a different approach, and Edwards’ stated intent to make a “more realistic” monster movie should be a good goal. Pacific Rim is pure popcorn adrenalin; Godzilla can play it more straight, imagining what it’s like for the poor schmucks on the ground when a monsters the size of skyscrapers are tearing up your hometown. You can see some of that in Edwards’ Monsters, even though the creatures of the film’s title only make up a comparatively small amount of screen time. If you haven’t seen it yet, Monsters is available for screening on Netflix Instant.
The Abyss (1989)
The Abyss and Pacific Rim might seem like an odd pairing, but I love the idea of linking them, even through the simple idea that both involve encounters with mysterious creatures from the bottom of the ocean. Tonally, they’re very different, but I think that would actually be a good thing. The Abyss is a slow-burn thriller that may leave claustrophobics and a strong fear of drowning whimpering in the corner (particularly during that one scene with Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio…you know the one). After several hours of James Cameron tightening the screws on you, the gung-ho exuberance of Pacific Rim will get your heart rate up in an entirely different way. Plus, The Abyss is still my favorite of James Cameron’s movies, so I’ll take pretty much any excuse at all to rewatch it.
The Iron Giant (1999)
If you’re prefer a gentler precursor — and especially if you’re taking your kids — The Iron Giant is a perfect appetizer. You’ve got a giant robot of an entirely different stripe, and the relationship between the titular Giant (voiced with gravely perfection by Vin Diesel) and young Hogarth Hughes makes for a sweet, underrated classic. The Iron Giant is damn near a perfect film, one which, in a universe that was just and fair, would have made a zillion dollars. Plus, it’s got one of the best movie endings of all time. As far as pairing it with Pacific Rim, there’s an extra layer of relevance comes from the fact that the Giant is actually defying his original purpose and programming, which intended him to be a weapon of war much like Pac Rim’s Jaegers. Through the Giant’s friendship with Hogarth, however, he learns that he doesn’t have to be a gun. Instead, he can be Superman.
The Host (2006)
If you don’t want to follow the family-friendly, giant-robot approach, you can instead pair Pacific Rim with another outstanding monster movie. The 2006 South Korean flick The Host is one of the best monster movies in ages, and helped win director Bong Joon-ho plenty of fans outside of his native country. The Host has a mutated monster — created by the careless dumping of formaldehyde into the sewers — emerge from Seoul’s Han RIver with a taste for blood. After a girl is abducted by the creature, her family assume she’s dead…until she calls them from her cell phone. Then they must try and rescue her from the creature’s lair before it’s too late. It’s a great example of a smaller scale monster movie, and it should whet your appetite for the epic events of Pacific Rim quite nicely.
Any classic Godzilla flick
As we opened discussing the new Godzilla, it’s only appropriate that we return to the originals for our final entry. After all, without Godzilla and the other classic kaiju films, Pacific Rim wouldn’t exist. Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie wears its love for this genre proudly on its sleeve, so what better way to start your monstrous double feature than with the original King of Monsters? The most obvious pairing would be the original 1954 Godzilla, or you can get bonus points for picking any of the movies that include Mechagodzilla, since then you’ve got both Pacific Rim elements covered, the giant monsters and the giant mechanical monstrosities. Really, the most important thing is just to make sure you don’t accidentally queue up the godawful 1998 Roland Emmerich version. That wouldn’t be good for anybody.