This weekend saw a movie where massive robots fought another massive robot and lots of things exploded. No, you didn't miss a Transformers movie, that was last year. This year our giant robot fix came courtesy of Pacific Rim Uprising, and in watching it one thing became clear, Pacific Rim is so much better than Transformers. While the Michael Bay explosion-fest does infinitely better at the box office, the fact is that Pacific Rim has made for much better movies. How exactly have giant robots been handled so much better in one franchise versus the other? Here are all the reasons that Jaegers are better than Transformers.
Jaegers Are Just Cooler
Jaegers are just empty shells that are controlled by people, and Transformers are actual sentient creatures, but the empty shell is actually a more diverse and interesting mech. Each one is uniquely designed and engineered and so they are very different. They look different, they have different weapons and attacks, which leads to more interesting battles. Transformers can, well, transform into cars, and that's cool, but that's their only real defining characteristic. The only thing that sets them apart is the sort of vehicle they can become. When it comes time for the robots to fight in Transformers, the battles aren't nearly as creative because the robots all have basically the same abilities, shoot guns and punch things.
Pacific Rim Embraces the Destruction
In the world of Pacific Rim, the Kaiju are a way of life. People who live in coastal cities are conscious that they can be attacked at any time, and thus, they are prepared for the eventuality. We know that underground shelters exist to protect people, which means that we know that the cities where the battles happen are evacuated. This gives the Jaeger's the freedom to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Kaiju, even if that means some pretty serious destruction. Collateral damage is rarely a concern that gets brought up in the Transformers movies, but it's certainly an issue. As far as we know, countless civilians end up getting killed every time a battle starts up between the Autobots and the Decepticons, and that just makes the whole thing less fun.
When it comes to world-ending threats, it's hard to beat the Kaiju. While the characters are just mindless destruction machines, they are monsters bent on destroying Earth. By contrast, in the Transformers movies the Earth isn't really a focus, instead, it's just the unlucky planet where the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons happens to be taking place. Also, the fact that the Kaiju cannot be reasoned with makes them feel like the bigger monsters. There is no option but to fight them. The Decepticons are only a threat to humanity as collateral damage. They want to beat the Autobots and occasionally the magical MacGuffin they want is here, but otherwise they don't actually care about us, so they're less scary.
Humans With Agency
Both the Pacific Rim movies and the Transformers movies aren't actually about giant robots. Instead, they're about people. The problem is that in Transformers the people mostly just find a place to hide when the giant robots start fighting. In Pacific Rim, the people get inside the giant mechs and start swinging. The people are directly involved in the fight in Pacific Rim, which makes them infinitely more compelling as characters. The Transformers movies try to be more relatable to the audience by making humans the main characters, but all they do is separate the audience from the action when the fun stuff starts because the Transformers are the ones doing the real fighting.