Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba
Guillermo del Toro has done something amazing. Somehow he has accessed my brain from when I was thirteen and created a film from it’s contents. Actually screw that, it’s from my thirty year old brain and it’s called Pacific Rim. Despite the vaguely porno sounding name Pacific Rim is essentially a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters. If that doesn’t make you want to punch the air in excitement then you have my pity.
The story so far: in the near future a breach opens in the Pacific ocean and huge beasts known as Kaiju start to lumber through it and attack the human population. We build enormous robots and go fight them. You’ll notice I’m throwing around words like ‘giant’ and ‘enormous’ but these don’t do justice to the size of these things. They’re skyscraper sized monstrosities and really are a sight to behold.
The movie works best when the robots and monsters are kicking the shit out of each other. It’s here that del Toro shines with one particular smackdown in Hong Kong which starts in the ocean, moves to the city, and ends fifty thousand feet in the air. Pacific Rim avoids feeling like that pile of Kaiju shit – Transformers, by letting us see the fights. There are no overly quick edits and the camera stays back so we can see the scale of the stupendous action.
When there isn’t a big battle going on the plot is pretty predictable and contains a lot of cliches. It’s basically Top Gun plus robots minus homo-eroticism. Which is no bad thing. Charlie Hunnam plays Maverick, sorry, I mean Raleigh Becket, an especially gifted Jaeger pilot who is still getting over the death of his co-pilot brother Goose, actually I can’t remember his name. When he returns from exile, he needs a new partner who it quickly becomes apparent will be Mako Mori (Rinku Kikuchi). So why does the whole movie spend so much time on the subplot of how she wants to be a pilot but Stacker (Idris Elba) won’t let her? We know she’ll become one so its pointless and could have been time spent on fleshing out the two dimensional characters.
The script isn’t a whole lot better. Its serviceable but not memorable in any way. Characters keep referring to the end of the world and the apocalypse but there’s no evidence of this or sense of danger. The actors do their best with the basic dialogue especially Idris Elba as the stoic Marshall who commands respect from his soldiers.
You begin to get the feeling that most of the work that went into the film was focused on the design of the world and the action scenes. Everything is intricately created down to the smallest detail. You feel like the robots, known as Jaegers, could be real as you get to see their inner workings and its makes even the launch sequence for them exciting. The sets are truly beautiful and Hong Kong is the perfect setting for this kind of movie.
This sounds like I was disappointed but you couldn’t be more wrong. Its a big dumb B-movie which is reminiscent of the giant creature films of the 1950s including the slightly eccentric scientists studying the monsters. When our heroes climb aboard their Jaegers you remember why you’re there. They kick so much ass that even if you’re not particularly invested in the characters you still want to see them battering the disgusting alien giants. I guarantee you’ll have a grin on your face when the main Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, pulls out an enormous sword and makes Kaiju carpaccio. Thirteen year old me would have died on the spot if he had witnessed Pacific Rim and any film that outright murders a teenage boy is worthy of your attention.
Pacific Rim is out now!