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Pacific Rim Has Only One Major Female Character, But She Gets The Best (Untranslated) Line

Submitted by on July 16, 2013 – 10:05 amNo Comment

As I noted in my review, the movie Pacific Rim thrives on exploring the complex psychological and emotional relationship between giant killer robots and alien sea monsters- not on subtle and realistic depictions of humans, so much. But some are criticizing the fact that the over-two-hour-long movie features only two named female characters, and only one who gets any serious screen time. Still, an interesting tweet from the film’s screenwriter revealed that this woman gets one of Pacific Rim‘s most powerful lines.

******SPOILERS AHEAD*********

Kyle Buchanan at Culture Vulture does a good job breaking down the strange absence of women in Pacific Rim. There are none for the first half hour, then Rinko Kikuchi‘s Mako Mori is introduced, and says a few lines. Later, a female Russian pilot is introduced, has a few lines, and dies. Also, a random women yells at Charlie Day for a second. And that’s it, among what Buchanan describes as 56 credited actors.

Both Buchanan and other writers point out that Pacific Rim fails the “Bechdel Test,” which asks if a movie has at least two named women in it who talk to each other about something other than a man. Even if Mori did have another woman to talk to, she’d probably have a lot to say about her adopted dad or the beefcake who just moved in across the hall. And though Mori more than holds her own in hand-to-hand combat, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) still steps in to beat up a bully for her.

But Kikuchi’s Mori does a lot as the only major female character in the movie. She is alternately powerful, smart, and capable, yet vulnerable, and she has one of the only developed and complicated back stories of the whole movie. Though other pilots are skeptical about her, it his because of her inexperience, not her gender. Kikuchi, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Babel, does an excellent job here, and doesn’t succumb to the bellowing, slapsticky, and soap opera-like delivery that seem to plague the rest of the film.

Audiences might have noticed that Mori shouts something at the end of the film, as her father figure Marshall Pentecost (Idris Elba) sacrifices himself for the mission, just after telling her how much he cared for her. It’s not translated in subtitles, but screenwriter Travis Beacham tweeted this week that Mako was saying, “Sensei, I love you.”

Ahhh, right in the feelings.

What do you think? Should Pacific Rim have had more women? Were the female characters portrayed well?

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