WHFS: Pacific Rim & P.R. Uprising, part I

The Theme:
Responding to Emergencies & Environmental Crisis

Fortune favors the brave, dude.”
Dr. Newton Geiszler (Mad Scientist and traitor of Earth whose fortune comes through the bridge. First human to share a neural load with a Kaiju. Played by Charlie Day)

I’m starting off 2019 with a two-part film review of the Guillermo Del Toro directed film Pacific Rim (2013) and Steven De Knight’s Pacific Rim Uprising (2018). Guillermo Del Toro is a director of international acclaim whose films & projects incorporate languages fluidly. De Knight continues that tradition in Uprising by having many multilingual characters (even the N. American actors!).
Peter Jackson is to New Zealand, Del Toro is to Mexico. That isn’t to say their styles compare, however, Del Toro was a screenwriter for The Hobbit (IMDB)…nobody is perfect but

Pacific Rim is pretty close. These power-ranger romps stem from the long line of the ecological/ nuclear disaster motifs of Godzillas and Alien films of the past. This duet is campy monster horror showcasing the responses to the destruction of urban infrastructure. One example of which is the cooperation between global military branches in taking on the increasingly intense Kaiju who are attempting to dominate/colonize/exploit the polluted Earth. Despite that these films aren’t meant to scare an audience like a slasher or gore-porn, I consider them as horror because an apocalyptic fear drives the plot. They express anxiety over their ecological crisis as the environment is increasingly stressed. While the film quietly mentions human pollution’s influence on the global crisis, it’s unclear if it’s intentionally mentioned or intentionally underplayed. Is it mere coincidence the battles take place on top of the climate canary, the Pacific reef? [Aside] Are there volcanos under the Pacific Ocean?

Dr. Newton Geiszler : Oh, my God! Oh, my God, this place is heaven! That’s a – that’s a lymph gland from a Category 2!

Raleigh Becket : [notices Dr. Geiszler’s tattoo]  Who is that, Yamarashi?

Dr. Newton Geiszler : Oh, this little Kaiju? Yeah, you got a good eye.

Raleigh Becket : My brother and I took him down in 2017.

Dr. Newton Geiszler : You know, he’s one of the biggest Category 3s ever. He was 2,500 pounds of awesome.

[Raleigh gives him a cold look]

The brief scene above exposes two projected fears which manifest during these films:

Ecological: In P.R. humanity’s victory over Kaiju is short-lived as the jaegers, the technology created to combat their hellishness, are no longer an adequate challenge to their increasing strength.

Interpersonal:These people are all just comic-book types, with ridiculous names and cliched back-stories. But their feelings are real. They feel pain. They dream.” (Ebert Review) Many of the characters archetypes are centered around their relationship with one or two distinct experiences 1. Responding to emergencies and 2. Surviving a disaster. Both P.R. & P.R.U. glance at the emotional strain and empowerment that can follow those kinds of scary experiences. I won’t say it addressed emotional health thoroughly or well, but it showed the importance of mental and emotional support in relationships through the emphasis of the neural handshake.

Real life responses to climate crises:
On Democracy Now, David Attenborough commented that “It’s difficult to overstate it. We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, the mechanisms that we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening, that we can actually just exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it.” ( DemocracyNow).

In Colorado, many groups have noticed and are responding to real destruction. The Ethics and Ecological Economics Forum held a mid-January meeting on Regenerative Economics and Colorado Opportunities featuring Hunter Lovins, President & Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions. In Hunter Lovins slideshow, she joins the chorus of experts saying that the intensity and unpredictability of storms have increased due to effects of human behavior on climate. Groups like the EEEF explore how the economy will shift alongside the reality of the climate shift we are experiencing. In the films, we see this play out as the civilian communities adjust to the presence of Kaiju by creating new industries and products like medicine.

As this is a PG13 film the beverage of choice this winter is

Pukka Three Ginger Tea
“A warming swirl of organic ginger, galangal, & golden tumeric…”

“Come on a delicious Pukka journey into the world of incredible herbal teas. Discover teas that refresh you, relax you and invigorate you – a world that helps your senses come alive…Welcome to our deliciously colorful world”
“Tea, put some sugar init why donchya?”

The packaging holds stamps implying the tea is organically and fairly sourced and ‘Made in the UK by Pukka, Herbs Ltd, Bristol’. I’m taking this label with a grain of salt as, following the middle ages, Bristol was one of the most active port cities in the triangular slave trade, “There is not…a brink in the city but what is cemented with the blood of a slave. Sumptuous mansions, luxurious living, liveried menials, were the produce of the wealth made from the sufferings and groans of the slaves bought and sold by the Bristol merchants…” (Eric Williams, Capitalism & Slavery, Kindle Loc 1577). I suppose that makes this product as innocent as rum. 

I chose this tea because, in the climate crisis, my fear is that in the increase of climate refugees will put people at risk for labour exploitation exposing even more people than now to conditions of slavery.

As you sit with a warm mug of steeped anti-inflammatory turmeric, what elements of these films scare you? Or, in the effort to understand what Horror is and is not, feel free to make a case for why they aren’t scary!

Raise hell peacefully,
Anne Arkhane


Photography by Seth Nagle

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