Pacific Rim – Discussion Points
In Pacific Rim, the world is facing an apocalypse. Dinosaur-like alien monsters are arising from the earth’s core and wiping out humanity. Mankind is fighting against these beasts (called kaiju) with humongous robots. These aren’t the kind of robots that operate on their own programming though. These robots are more like a car or a plane – they require someone to be inside them and “drive”. In fact, they are so big they require two people to operate them. To do that well, the two people have to be in perfect harmony, so they created a way to link their brains together so the two become one.
I admit, there was nothing in the plot of this story that was enticing to me. Aliens, robots, apocalypse, connecting brains together… nothing about that sounded interesting to me. So I was particularly surprised and intrigued to see the favorable reviews. All the more so when I read some of the comments that indicated the movie had some depth and heart. I admit, I actually really enjoyed it. Not only did I enjoy it, but I found several places where it connected to the Christian story in some way – some really obvious, some a little less so.
- I think the most obvious connection to the Christian story would have to be the idea of laying down your life for others. Towards the end of the movie there are just two robots left and they are on a mission to blow up the hive where the kaiju are coming from. The hopes of the world (of course) are dependent on this mission. Stacker and Chuck are in a robot, and the kaiju have wounded it pretty severely. If there’s to be a chance of mission success, the other robot (manned by Raleigh and Mako) will have to blow up the hive. Stacker and Chuck, instead of trying to save themselves, offer to help ensure the others can do their job, to help protect the world – and they do it by “clearing a path” for the other robot…by blowing up their robot, themselves, and all the kaiju in the way. It was a conscious choice to lay down their life, for their friends, for the mission, for the people of the world.
Jesus died for the world, too. It was the only way to save us from sin and death. In John 15:13 He says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
- Another, slightly less obvious spiritual concept that the movie provides an interesting visual for is the body of Christ. Two people get into this giant robot. Their brains are linked together – to each other and to this larger robot body. You can see that when, for example, the robots arm gets hurt, or even detached, the people feel it, too. In the first of the movie, when one of the robot pilots gets killed, the other pilot (his brother, Raleigh) felt it. He didn’t just feel the grief of losing his brother, but he saw and felt what his brother felt, the fear, the pain, the recognition that he was going to die… all of it—because they were one body.
1 Corinthians 12 talks about the body of Christ. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (verse 12). The thing that links us all together is the Spirit of God (see verse 13). The Spirit of God, which we all have, searches and knows the mind of Christ, so that we all can have one mind, the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). God’s desire is that we be unified as one body, so much so that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Pacific Rim, surprisingly enough, showed this concept in a unique and powerful way.
There’s one more little detail that I ought to mention on this topic. To be unified in mind while in the robot, the rangers had to keep their minds connected to the “drift”. Raleigh and Mako ran into some trouble in their test drive together when Raleigh started thinking of his brother’s death and lost his connection with Mako. His detour was brief, but it affected Mako, who in turn took her own detour, through fear and her past, which turned potentially very dangerous for all around them. It was a discipline for the rangers to stay “in the drift”, to keep their minds connected and focused.
This is true for us in the Spirit as part of the body of Christ, too. We have to work to stay connected to God’s Spirit. He is always there for us, and He desires that we remain, always, deeply connected to His Spirit. But the choice is ours, and it requires discipline and focus. When we disconnect from His Spirit, there are consequences, to ourselves and to others.
- When Kaiju’s first appeared, everyone was terrified of them. They were evil and no one questioned it. The thing is, as people grew more accustomed to seeing kaiju, and more used to the fear and death, their response changed from one of horror to one of dark fascination. As Raleigh says, “Danger turned into propaganda.” Not only that, but men like Hannibal Chau profited off the sale of the kaiju parts. He got rich off of the evil that was invading the earth.
This is same thing happens in our world all the time. We grow so quickly accustomed to sin and evil. Things which ought to make us respond with righteous anger so quickly become things of dark fascination. The world is quick to make big business out of danger and sin and evil, to profit off of the things of our enemy. We would do well to beware men who get rich off of the evil that is invading our culture and our world. Just as we need to beware the temptation to do so ourselves.
A few passages in scripture which apply to this topic: Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Psalm 101 is also very applicable in its entirety, but specifically, verse 3-4: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.” Finally, if you look at Jesus’ life, you’ll see just how offensive it is to God to profit off of others’ weaknesses and off of sin. Most notable is probably His reaction to the money changers in the temple, (see Matthew 21:12).
- In the movie, as in life, people tried to make sense of the kaiju and the death and destruction they caused. Raleigh said that some “believe the kaiju are sent from heaven [as punishment] because the gods are angry with us.”
The same response happens all the time in our reality, too. Whether it’s an “act of God”, like a tornado or earthquake, or an act of terrorism, like 9-11, we struggle to make sense of the bad things that happen to us. (The same is true on a smaller scale, a person gets cancer, for example. It’s just that we are often more aware of the differing perspectives when it’s a large scale event, due to the media.) Some think it’s just the luck of the draw, some think, it’s just nature’s balance, and there are always some who think it’s God’s punishment.
This happened to Job. All sorts of bad things happened to Job, and his friends felt like Job must have done something bad to have deserved it. They tried to help him by suggesting he had done something to anger God. In the end, God doesn’t really answer Job. He doesn’t tell Job and his friends why, but He does remind Job that HE is God, sovereign over all creation, all-wise and all-knowing. He basically just asks Job, “Who are you to question the mind and the ways of God?” I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite answer. The thing that does encourage me in Job, however, is that we know from the text that God did not Himself do those things to Job, (even if He did permit it), and that they were not “punishment”. So, when bad things are happening in our world, it may be punishment, but it’s not necessarily so. Just know that God is in control, and He can and will use all things to His glory and purposes, for the good.
- Raleigh says you never would have picked him and his brother to be heroes. “No chance.” They were unlikely choices for rangers, men who would fight and die to bring peace to mankind.
Jesus made some unlikely choices for his disciples: tax collectors, fishermen, even a man who notoriously hunted and killed Christians. They weren’t who you would expect Jesus to choose to bring his love and peace to mankind. They weren’t the men you would think would change the world and would die for the sake of Christ. But they did.
Questions for Discussion:
- Stacker and Chuck died so that others could live. Jesus died so that you could live. The thing is, you have to accept His sacrifice and gift of eternal life. How have you responded to that gift?
- Have you ever felt that, even though separate, you were deeply connected to someone else, that you were as one? What made you feel that?
- What do you think it looks like to live in unity with others? To be one body with others? (Not sure? I Corinthians 12 can help you think through it.)
- Mako and Raleigh had to learn to stay unified…what kinds of things kept them from being unified that first time? What kinds of things keep you from being unified with others?
- How does God’s Holy Spirit help the body of Christ live as one body?
- How did you feel about Hannibal and the fact that he profited off this thing that was killing mankind?
- What examples can you think of in our world/culture where people profit off of evil and turn what is bad into something that seems good?
- How do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame God, accept it, question it, assume it’s somehow deserved (aka it’s punishment)? Why?
- Raleigh was an unlikely choice for a hero. The disciples were unlikely choices, too. What about you? What are the things that make you an unlikely choice? Do you think that because of those things you might not be a hero, or might not be used of God?
- How can the stories of Raleigh, Mako, the disciples… encourage you, especially in the areas which you feel make you less, or unlikely?
Click here to read a collection of quotes from Pacific Rim.
By Stacey Tuttle