Warning. This review may contain spoilers. Continue reading at your own risk.
Pacific Rim has the makings of what I think most kids growing up in the 90’s have wanted for a long time: the chance to beat the snot out of giant monsters while piloting larger than life robots. It is with those expectations that I recommend seeing Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.
The film is a definite nod to Del Toro’s love of giant monster flicks like Gojira aka Godzilla (1954) while many people of the younger generation will see the influences of Robotech (1985) and Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), both anime that featured gigantic robots and the pilots who command them.
Pacific Rim opens in the year 2020 and a voice over by Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), explaining how a portal of sorts opened at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, where the Kaiju begin their attacks on humanity’s cities. After days of fighting the first Kaiju (Japanese for giant monster) with conventional weapons the first is killed. But of course, the problem can’t end there. More attacks devastate the globe forcing the nations of the world to create the Jager (German for hunter) program. In other words, when the world is in peril, we need to create some big ass robots and protect our planet. The introduction for how the technology works definitely harkens back to old school anime, but with a nice new spin. The Jagers are controlled by two pilots, one representing either side of the brain. Throw in the voice of Ellen McLain (Portal, Portal 2) as the Jager system’s voice and watch how giddy you can feel.
While the Becket brothers are suited to stomp the latest Kaiju, Marshall Pentecost (Idris Elba) wants them to ignore the civilian vessel in the area, and more or less do it by the book. Of course, this isn’t what happens. After what seems to be a simple battle turns sour, resulting in the death of Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff) and leaving Raleigh to pilot the Jager by himself. After these events the title rolls up on screen and the film picks up five years and many losing battles later.
The rest of the film has what you should expect from it. Quirky scientists that you probably would otherwise avoid, fellow pilots that have an almost unfounded tension between teams, shady black market dealers, and plenty of bone smashing, metal rending action. Seeing as most of the film takes place outside of Hong Kong, it wouldn’t be right to have awesome anime-giant monster-asian inspired film without the super smart and kick butt female pilot. That pilot is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and she is responsible for revamping Becket’s old junker of a Jager, Gypsy Danger, and selecting his new copilot, and providing the kick in the butt that seems to need.
Compared with other summer blockbusters and duds, Pacific Rim handles itself well. The plot is straight forward and doesn’t leave holes anywhere that I noticed. The dialogue is standard fair, especially if you have watched any giant monster movies or seen the occasional anime with giant robots. While some may feel it is campy, I think it’s right on target. Visually, the film is great to look at despite most of the fighting occurring at night and in the rain. The action is everything I could want from a film like this. Every Kaiju made me glad that I was just an audience member, while every time a Jager strode across the screen I wanted to be piloting it. Guillermo del Toro was able to channel the excitement and giddiness that needs to be present for seeing a film like this. While I don’t forsee Oscar nominations in the future for this film, I know that isn’t what this is about. It’s about pure unadulterated fun, and it delivers.
If I have to grade it: 9/10
My grade: It’s a movie you see when you just want to have fun. All “seriousness” went out the window when you saw giant monsters fighting giant robots.
Number of times I referenced size: 7