Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro's epic mashup of giant robot and monsters, isn't getting a lot of love from the Chinese military despite raking it in at the overseas box office.
In an op-ed piece in the China's People's Liberation Army Daily, an officer named Zhang Jieli said the film was a propaganda piece used to spread American military ideals around the world.
In Pacific Rim, humans have built giant robots, called Jaegers, to defeat an invasion of ferocious monsters, called Kaiju, that emerge from the Pacific Ocean. Much of the movie takes place in and around Hong Kong. The movie was filmed in Toronto.
"The decisive battle against the monsters was deliberately set in South China Sea adjacent to Hong Kong," Zhang said. "The intention was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area and saving the mankind."
Much of film set in Hong Kong
According to an English-language report of the editorial on China.org, Zhang said that Pacific Rim portrays the U.S. "as the saviour of mankind and world police," and that Hollywood blockbusters "implant western values in young Chinese minds" to challenge China's rise as a world power.
"Soldiers should sharpen their eyes and enforce a 'firewall' to avoid ideological erosion when watching American movies," he said. "More importantly, they should strengthen their combat capability to safeguard national security and interests."
Pacific Rim has made more than $100 million US in China to date, and more than $300 million worldwide.
Del Toro has said that Pacific Rim isn't about trumpeting military ideals or real-world politics, but is, first and foremost, a love letter to the monster movies of his childhood.
'Very international by design,' says director
"I tried to show, for example, not one ideology or one race or one country saving the world — it is a movie that is very anti-jingoistic, very international by design," he told CBC's Eli Glasner in June.
Film sites and blogs have since jumped on the editorial. Kotaku's Eric Jou writes that Zhang "overlooks the fact that China has taken a part in the movie — albeit a very small part."
"Also, the Pan Pacific Defence Corps is made up of people from all over the world, not just Americans," continues Jou. Chinese, American, Russian and Australian characters appear in the film as Jaeger pilots.
The term Jaeger is German for hunter, while Kaiju is Japanese for strange beast, and often associated with Japanese monster films such as the Godzilla series.