Fanboy Meets World: The Connection Between 'Star Trek' and 'Pacific Rim'


WARNING: The following article reveals significant information regarding the plot of "Pacific Rim".

Guillermo Del Toro has stated that he wants “Pacific Rim” to introduce a new generation of kids to the common Japanese fantasy elements of Kaiju and Mecha. Mission, basically, accomplished. (Yeah, so maybe this movie didn't exactly destroy at the box office, but it will thrive on cable and DVD and YouTube clips for some time. The kids will learn the legend of Gipsy Danger somehow.)

But it isn't just vicious aquatic beasts and gigantic robots that influenced “Pacific Rim.” On a very in-your-face level one can see the fingerprints of the once and future nerd franchise king: Star Trek.

As countless billboards and subway ads have told you, “to fight monsters we created monsters.” In other words, when the inter-dimensional rift at the bottom of the sea opened up and humongous stompy amphibians destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge, the nations of the world (and the corporations that support them) united to create Jaegers: scary German-sounding robots that can (and will!) pummel those mean Kaiju monsters into shattered bone.

But these technical wonders are so mighty that no mere mortal could control them alone. They need at least two captains to work in tandem – and I don't mean just jammin' in sync like Bird and Diz or Mick and Keith. They need pilots that can make a neural handshake in drift space!

Even though that's a mouthful of sci-fi technobabble (though fully in tune with a film that has Stacker Pentecost and Hercules Hansen observing Thundercloud Formation in the Shatterdome) audiences immediately get it. Because it is a Vulcan mind meld.

While Star Trek canon is a bit vague about just how much telekinetic power Vulcans possess, the ability to expand one's consciousness and into another's goes all the way back to Surak and the T'Karath Sanctuary. Sure, during the 22nd Century a full-borne meld wasn't just considered taboo, it was downright dangerous (note T'Pol's degenerative battle with Pa'nar Syndrome) but by the 23rd Century, Vulcan psionic abilities were coming to the aid of the Federation with regularity.

Spock is able to to basically hypnotize the Kelvan guard to free him and his Enterprise mates in “By Any Other Name,” but the real mind melds, we know, are a two-way street. Take a look at this video for a classic example. (And don't ask why William Shatner is dressed like a Plains Indian. . .you'd really rather not know.)

Skip to 37:41 for the good stuff:

When the two Jaeger pilots are engaged in the Neural Handshake, it's the same as a Mind Meld. They know one another's most intimate psychological details, something that almost makes “Pacific Rim”'s star Charlie Hunnam seem human.

But this isn't the only Star Trek nod. Toward the end of “Pacific Rim,” Charlie Day makes the shocking discover that the Kaiju monsters aren't just coming through the rift to kill them – they're coming through to kill them in, um, wait what was the revelation, again? Ah, coming through to kill them in a big-ass onslaught that was going to start just in time for the film's third act.

He's able to figure this out by tapping into the “rift” with some living brain tissue, where he discovers that all of the Kaiju are somehow connected in thought as if in a collective – as if they were The Borg.

The Borg were the big villains of Trek's Next Generation, an advanced species that assimilated culture and technology and, despite all that knowledge, still left themselves open to some pretty simple security issues. For example, all it would take was one member of the Collective to fall into the Federation's hands and they'd be prone to an uploaded virus. Also: they'd be prone to some LeVar Burton pop-philosophy about what was the true meaning of friendship.

The Kaiju and their bloopy alien overlords never get as warm and fuzzy as this (maybe that's in the sequel that we'll never see?) but as a result of the gray matter of one Kaiju getting poked, all of them decide to come down on Charlie Day. (Maybe they saw “Horrible Bosses?” I kid, I kid.)

Any good comparison needs a third bullet point, it's the rule, so just accept it when I say that the Kaiju are in fact based on the Xindi. Yeah, you heard me, the Xindi.

Guillermo Del Toro may want to hide behind decades of deep Japanese popular culture, but I'm going with the theory that these seldom-remembered aliens of different sub-species from the least liked of all Star Trek shows (“Enterprise”) is the true inspiration. That's why one kinda looks like a reptile and another has wings. You can't prove it isn't true!

Okay, this last suggestion may not be Fanboy Meets World, but rather Fanboy Versus World, but after all the rootin' tootin' clobbering of “Pacific Rim” I am, indeed, hungry for a fight.