Pacific Rim Movie Review
Monsters the size of Godzilla attacking the world, versus giant robots piloted by men who fight them. Sounds like a trash movie, right? Wrong!
Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr. & Diego Klattenhoff.
Run Time: 132 min.
US Release: 12 July 2013
UK Release: 12 July 2013
German Release: 18 July 2013
With Pacific Rim: Uprising out in cinemas already, I decided to post my review of the original first part, directed by visual and directorial master Guillermo del Toro. If you read my review for this year’s The Shape of Water, you should know how passionate I am about del Toro’s fantasy tales. Interestingly enough, when the marketing campaign was rolled out for this blockbuster, I wasn’t anticipating this new project of him at all. To me, it looked like it was going to be another cheap action-monster production, similar to Battleships. Well, I could not have been more wrong, as Pacific Rim proved to be quite a unique movie with multiple influences.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
When monstrous creatures, named the Kaiju, begin to rise from the depths of the sea and attack cities, a war begins that will not only take millions of lives but also consume human resources for years. To combat the Kaiju, special weapons were devised; giant robots called Jaegers, piloted by two pilots, whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. However, even the Jaegers are struggling to win the war against the Kaiju.
Travis Beacham, who wanted del Toro to direct his fantasy screenplay Killing on Carnival Row that never came to fruition, developed the story. Although not specifically copying any specific anime, it is obvious that this action blockbuster was inspired by mecha-animes, such as Gundam Wing or Neon Genesis Evangelion, and monster pictures a-la Godzilla. This is where the plot is at it’s best, selling an intriguing and original idea about giant robots that are battling intra-dimensional monsters, which came to conquer earth. I also found the idea interesting that the Jaeger’s need two pilots, each working as a cerebral hemisphere to the huge robotic mech.
Other than that, this film does not have much going on story-wise. This is a simple but effective popcorn flick, made for entertainment purpose and it delivers. It tries digging a little deeper by adding side-plots concerning loss and survivor’s guilt, though, these had little emotional impact, as it doesn’t manifest those arcs strong enough. A shame, because those aspects could have made the difference between a good blockbuster and a brilliant one.
Charlie Hunnam, known for playing the brilliant role of Jax Teller in FX series Sons of Anarchy, is Raleigh Becket; a washed-up former Jaeger pilot called out of retirement by General Stacker Pentecost, of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. Becket suffered a giant loss; he not only witnessed the death of his brother first hand but was also connected to him when it happened. He is broken mentally as well as spiritually and needs to fight his way out of the deep dark hole he is in. Hunnam may not have been the best casting choice to display all those qualities, as he did not deliver those emotions on point.
Idris Elba, on the other hand, is great as General Stacker Pentecost, a man that is literary carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is at odds with Becket and protective of his surrogate daughter Mako. Elba managed to combine these personalities perfectly together. A man who has military authority, though, suffers emotionally just as much as our heroes. Then there is Ron Perlman, he has a short screen-time but is as always charismatically over the top!
I enjoy the performance given by Rinko Kikuchi, who plays Mako. She is a strong female lead, able to kick most of her male companions’ butts. Her tragic backstory adds to the likeability of the character, making her equally vulnerable, but not in a bad way. She is possibly the most humane character out of the whole bunch. Kikuchi was a fantastic casting choice, who brought all these rare emotions, as well as a form of discipline, to her role.
While Hunnam gave a stoic and mediocre performance, the ones that annoyed me the most are the two scientists: Dr. Newton Geiszler, played by Charlie Day, and Hermann Gottlieb, portrayed by Burn Gorman. Both characters were extremely annoying, especially Geiszler’s hyperactivity that was overacted by Charlie Day.
Guillermo del Toro is known for his dazzling looking films and well-executed action, or horror, sequences. These, however, normally use a lot of practical effects and real persons, with as little computer-generated effects in the foreground as possible. Pacific Rim is a different calibre, though. Del Toro proves with this movie that he is able to handle full CGI battle sequences and capture jaw-dropping gigantic scenes on camera. The special effects do hold-up to this day, looking very realistic as well as beautiful. I am still able to immerse myself fully into that world, without being distracted by any of the effects.
Verdict: This might be my least favourite del Toro film but that doesn’t mean that it is bad! Pacific Rim is one of the most entertaining blockbusters I have seen, purely made to amuse the audience. The narrative, while not copying any specific anime, draws a lot of inspiration from its mecha sub-genre and sells a compelling and interesting plot about intra-dimensional monsters that came to destroy the world, fighting giant human-made robots. It does not strive to be a big and meaningful story, only scratching at the surface of what could have been a deeper monster-flick. Charlie Hunnam was miscast as the protagonist of the story, while Day and Gorman are utterly irritating. Elba, Kikuchi, and Perlman, on the other hand, are fantastic in their roles. The cinematography is good and the effects still hold up. This is a great popcorn flick and deserves an 8.0 out of 10!
Thank you for reading my review of Pacific Rim. Leave a comment below, to let me know what your thoughts are and look out for my review of Pacific Rim 2: Uprising on Monday!