Pacific Rim is basically the 2013 version of Independence Day

Warning: If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim and are intending to do so, tread carefully as this post does contain spoilers. If you aren’t planning on seeing, that’s totally fine – just rewatch the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day (one of greatest movies ever made) and you’ll be totally fine.

One of the reasons I love every Fourth of July is that during the day there are bound to be at least four or five airings of Independence Day on Spike TV. And I’d probably watch every single airing if I didn’t make any plans on the Fourth. Independence Day is far and away one of the greatest movies ever made – it’s got some the preeminent actors of our time in Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, some pretty bad ass special effects for its day and it’s all about ‘Merica triumphing in the face of the extinction of the human race.

A kaiju from Pacific Rim

A kaiju from Pacific Rim

Somebody call up Spike TV and tell them to add Pacific Rim to its Fourth of July schedule next year, because it’s basically the same movie as Independence Day.

Of course I have to explain myself now. Happy to do so….

– Nukes don’t work against the aliens/kaiju UNLESS they are inside of their central ship/home base. In Independence Day, governments around the world were sad to learn that nuclear weapons were not enough to blow the alien ships out of the sky. Their shields were too strong, as evidenced by the failed attack on the craft hovering above Houston. “Target remains. I repeat… target remains.” We learn in Pacific Rim that the Jaeger task forces (the giant machines humans created to fight the monsters attacking their cities) have already tried to nuke the portal where the kaiju (the monsters that said machines are supposed to defend against) come from several times and they have always been repelled. The key is that the nuke has to go off inside of the portal, similar to how Steve Hiller and David Levinson had to fly inside the mothership to upload the virus and then detonate the nuke on their way out. “I don’t think we’re going to fit…” Speaking of entering enemy territory…

– Entering the mothership/portal requires using the aliens/monsters to gain access. Hiller and Levinson fly a captured alien craft in disguise up to the mothership in order to gain access to it. How do Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori, the heroic Jaeger pilots, enter the portal in Pacific Rim? They use a captured dead kaiju carcass to trick the portal’s defenses into allowing them in. How did Becket and Mori know how to take down the portal? Well…

This guy was cray.

This guy was cray.

– Humans can get inside both alien and kaiju minds. Becket and Mori are given the heads-up on how to destroy the portal from a pair of crazy scientists who created a “drift” with the kaiju, enabling them to see their thoughts and gain valued insight on their way of life. Sound familiar? That’s because in Independence Day, the president (Bill Pullman) had his mind briefly taken over by the captured alien in Area 51 and learned that there would be no peace between earth and the aliens and that they moved from planet to planet, consuming national resources until everything was gone (interestingly enough, kaiju are mentioned to follow this exact same model). Not to mention the alien also took over the mad scientist’s mind (yes, there being mad scientists in both movies makes it three similarities inside of one bullet) and then pinned him to the glass creepily while uttering “Release me…. Release me…” Sorry, bro. We all know how that one turned out for ya.

– Final battles with the kaiju and aliens prompted the commanders to give epic speeches. This is perhaps the most obvious comparison. Bill Pullman gave one of the finest speeches in movie history (below for your viewing pleasure) as he was about to send his jets up for the final assault on the alien ship in Independence Day. It was so passionate because his character had just lost his wife and it was Fourth of July so errbody was all hopped up on patriotism and whatnot. Personally, it’s moved me to tears several times. In Pacific Rim, Idris Elba’s character, Stacker Pentecost, tries to give a similar speech before the last Jaeger mission to the portal, and while it was a valiant effort, “Today we cancel the apocalypse!” just doesn’t get the juices flowing like “WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT!…” I half-expected Elba to say exactly those words at some point during the speech, and I think others in the theater did as well since were more than a few chuckles right when he began speaking.

P.S. Both Pullman’s and Elba’s characters also personally participate in the last mission, no matter how long it had been since they’ve been in an F-14 or Jaeger, respectively.

– Both missions end with uncertainty on whether the main character(s) made it out alive or not. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary component of a plot, but it was interesting to see how both command centers couldn’t make out any life signs for Becket and Hiller/Levinson after they had destroyed the enemy ship or portal. But as with all happy endings, Becket ended up being fine and his escape pod made it out of the ocean depths, and Hiller and Levinson were met by the rescue convoy out in the desert.

Is it a bad thing that Pacific Rim is so much like Independence Day? Not at all. But the end point is similar to Adam’s in his analysis of The Mole and Whodunnit – the 90s version always wins.