23 September 2013

Book review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim, official movie novelization by Alex Irvine.

In case you hadn't heard, I really liked the movie Pacific Rim. It was fun and sad and happy and I loved it. There were a lot of feels involved. Here's my tumblr tag; there are (as I write this) 22 pages of posts.

So I ordered the novelization. I've never read a novelization before. Based on some things I'd read on tumblr before I got it, I knew there were some differences between the book and the movie, because the book is based on an earlier script (like I mentioned in last Monday's post).

One advantage novels have over movies is that you get exposition in novels and can give some backstory and explanations of characters and motives, like why Chuck Hansen has such a huge chip on his shoulder. Which is nice. There were a few notable differences between the book and the movie, but overall all the things happened. Book readers get a few extra things.

To sum up the plot of Pacific Rim, in the event you haven't heard of it, giant alien monsters invade Earth through a rift in the Marianas Trench. They attack major cities, and the governments nuke the first few (because missiles don't work). One man suggests building giant robots to fight the giant monsters. Neuroscientists work on brain-machine interfaces, and they discover that controlling the giant robot requires two people. The Jaeger Program is born.

It's 11 years into the Kaiju Wars, and pilot Raleigh Becket, who lost his brother in battle, is brought back to the program for a hail-Mary play to seal the Breach by his old mentor Stacker Pentecost (played spectacularly by Idris Elba). He meets Mako Mori, who was in charge of repairing and upgrading his old Jaeger. She wants to be a pilot; Pentecost doesn't want her to.

There's a little bulldog, a father and son team with emotional constipation; a pair of scientists, one grumpy, the other excitable; Chinese triplets; and surly Russians.

I loved the movie. I didn't love the novelization. I liked the bits of backstory added in, presumably from whatever notes Travis Beacham, the scriptwriter, sent in, and I dug the dossiers. There was a scene not in the movie that was extra FEELS knowing how it ends. (The foreshadowing, it burns us.)

The Weberian clunkiness got less pronounced later, as more action happened and less exposition was required, but there were a lot of sentences that could have been far more streamlined. I stopped wanting to take a red pen to them about halfway through, at least.

Fans of the movie will find it compelling, and completist fans will probably already own a copy. If you've seen the movie but haven't read the book, it's worth the few hours (it's just over 300 pages) it'll take to read it, just for the Chuck and Herc backstory, and seeing the Weis and Kaidonovskys actually speak. Unless you're a completist, I'd recommend borrowing it from your library.

If you haven't seen the movie, I recommend watching it first.

No comments: