(Includes some spoilers)
On Mako and Stacker’s relationship
In the beginning when Mako is introduced to Raleigh, she says “Imeji to chigau,” to Stacker, meaning “(he) is different than I thought.” When I heard her say this, I thought it was weird for her to use such informal language towards her superior. If she were actually talking to her superior, she would have said “Imeji to chigaimasu," which would be a more formal way of saying so. I thought it was a minor slip-up with the script, as not many writers look too much into the culture basics of foreign languages when writing dialogue (although towards Raleigh, she speaks formally). Later on we find out that she is actually his adoptive daughter, and I realized why she used such informal language. Although in English, she may speak to Stacker in a way of talking to her superior, in Japanese, her mother tongue, she uses an informal, friendly way of talking to Stacker, her father figure.
I love that the movie paid attention to this. I loved the little ways it became clear that he, as her adoptive dad, didn’t force her out of her native language or culture, but instead tried to adopt some of it with her, in a respectful way. He speaks Japanese with her—does she speak Japanese to anyone in this movie besides him, apart from the response to Raleigh?—he bows in greeting, etc. She’s speaking English with him when updating him as her superior about the candidate trials, but when she starts to get angry and beg for the chance he promised her, she switches to Japanese. When he’s telling her “More control” during the fight, he does it in Japanese but he calls her “Miss Mori” like a superior would. It’s this really great mix of informal family intimacy and the formality of their now professional relationship, and it shows a lot of mutual respect. These little moments revealed the closeness of their relationship, the way their family bond is intertwined with the formal rank structure, the way they’ve built a solid family of two, in really subtle ways.
It is little things like this that surprised me in a thoroughly pleasant way about the movie, and are why I really liked it a lot. I like that the movie took *time* to pay attention to these things, took time to give us little moments whose implications mean a lot for the characters, amidst the dinosaur-punching.
Frankly it’s a miracle that any Hollywood production paid this much attention to a foreign culture/language. Love it.