Pacific Rim Review
While other summer blockbusters released this year have failed to live up to the hype, Guillermo del Toro has delivered with Pacific Rim.
To some extent, most of the summer blockbusters released this year have been disappointing. I was completely entranced by Star Trek Into Darkness, but otherwise Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, After Earth, Man of Steel, World War Z, White House Down and The Lone Ranger have all been letdowns to varying degrees. With the summer movie season now past its midpoint, the pressure is on Guillermo del Toro to deliver where others have faltered. Is Pacific Rim the summer blockbuster we deserve?
Humanity has learned that they are not alone in the universe, but in an unexpected way – giant alien monsters, coined as Kaiju (Japenese for “giant monster”), have emerged from the sea. Their arrival soon results in a war that costs millions of lives and depletion of much of the Earth’s natural resources. With options dwindling each and every day, all of the world’s nations come together to develop the Jaeger (German for “hunter) program, in which a team of at least two highly-trained pilots will command enormous mechs to fight the relentless Kaiju. Although initially very successful, even the mighty Jaegers prove to be vulnerable as the Kaiju adapt to their weapons and strategies, and soon the program led by Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) is shut down by the disillusioned world leaders. With that, Pentecost enlists the help of washed-up Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and others to organize a final effort. They plan to use the four remaining Jaegers for the purpose of collapsing the interdimensional portal, thus ending the war.
I did not expect much of a plot in Pacific Rim; what I expected to see were groundbreaking, lovingly-crafted fight scenes with a little bit of character development thrown in. I have to admit, that is exactly what I got here. Before I start boyishly praising Pacific Rim, let me get the main problem out of the way – the plot really is as generic as can be. Apocalypse setting, washed-up protagonist, weird scientists – Pacific Rim borrows many elements from other sci-fi films, but that’s forgivable. What matters is that the plot and characters are developed well enough for viewers to care about the story in between the action.
Thankfully, the character development does not tear down the pace – it doesn’t last terribly long, which removes the exhaustion factor that ultimately proved to be fatal for Man of Steel. Plus, it helps that one can actually invest themselves in the characters. Pacific Rim also has a unique universe that I hope to see in comics, video games and potentially even sequels. Sure, we all came for the jaw-dropping fights, but it sure helps that the story is good as well.
The acting here isn’t great, but it works well enough to serve the storyline of Pacific Rim. Outside of Sons of Anarchy, it doesn’t seem that Charlie Hunnam hasn’t had much film work, so I was glad to see him in a role that will likely help him gain some more star power in Hollywood. Admittedly, his work in the starring role is nothing truly special, but he certainly gets the job done. Where the cast truly shines is in the supporting work. Rinko Kikuchi is an entertaining sidekick for Hunnam and channels enough emotion for the audience to sympathize with her character’s problems. Ron Perlman has an awesome, entertaining role, while both Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are spot-on as quirky scientists, even if they speak a little too quickly at times. The standout performance in Pacific Rim certainly came from Idris Elba, who is simply awesome in this film. What makes his work so great here is that not only does he deliver his lines with conviction and emotional gravitas, there is something about his performance that makes his character more human than the rest. Most of the characters here are one-note, while Elba manages to make his character three-dimensional and even morally ambiguous.
A movie about giant monsters fighting enormous robots would certainly need to be visually engaging, and thankfully Pacific Rim is just that. In fact, the CGI in this film is absolutely perfect. Sure, I knew that all of the monsters, robots and numerous environments were digital creations, but the difference is that the visuals are so lovingly-crafted that they are 100% believable. Guillermo del Toro’s infectious love for monsters is apparent here, for each of the Jaegers and Kaijus are so unique and enormous that they all are memorable, and the action sequences are spectacular.
As opposed to the poor filmmaking style Michael Bay employed for the Transformers franchise, del Toro made sure to use wide angles, panning shots and cohesive editing to compose some truly incredible fight sequences. The immense size of the Jaegers and Kaijus make you feel the power of each and every impact between the two, which certainly raises the tension as well. Ramin Djawadi’s musical score also serves to raise the amount of adrenaline and excitement that is already present in the action scenes, so he does his job as the composer quite well.
Pacific Rim isn’t the most intelligent film released this summer, but it sure is plenty of fun. Not only does Pacific Rim deliver on its promises of jaw-dropping fight scenes, it has a decent story to boot. With solid performances, spectacular action and absolutely perfect visual effects, Pacific Rim is a great summer film. If you love movies that make you feel like a 12-year-old, look no further than this geektastic wonder.