Pacific Rim Review: To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters Of Our Own

Pacific Rim isn’t an oversized 180 million dollar version of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots with a couple of Godzilla castoffs, it’s the biggest spectacle you will see this summer, literally. I don’t think you’ll see any movie with action on this large of a scale for a while. But I guess you have to build one hell of a stage to see these two enormous behemoths throw down like they’re apart of the biggest and most dynamic fight club you’ll ever see.

Guillermo Del Toro joked that he was given a bunch of money just to tap into his inner-child and go wild like a kid with a bunch of toys in a sandbox. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard for anybody else, child or not, to enjoy this disaster epic.999491_534053723327596_982599501_n

The plot is reasonably lean, for obvious reasons. It wants to get right to the point and it does that pretty effortlessly. In the future an unexplained dimensional tear opens up in the ocean. Skyscraper-sized beast, known as Kaiju, start to claw their way up and drag themselves through the opening. Cities become playgrounds for Kaiju as they wrestle buildings out the ground and dent the Earth with their thunderous steps. Humanity is backed into a corner until the arrival the Jager program.

As Charlie Hunnam’s character, Religeh Becket, says, “To fight monsters, we created monsters of our own”. The monsters he was referring to were Jagers, the man made solution to this outrageous infestation. And for a while what seemed like a permeate one. Then they started losing. An army becomes a small glimmer of hope as the Kaiju eventually beat them down into a small resistance. Stacker Pentacoast (Idris Elba) re-enlist former hothead, Religeh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) in the eleventh-hour as they plan to finish this fight, once and for all.

Melodrama is peppered throughout the film, giving us just a large enough of a platform to connect with the characters, some more than others, on more than a artificial level. Raliegh, the washed up Jaeger pilot without an obedient bone in his body and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), the soft-spoken, inexperienced overachiever  thrown into the war effort, hold the majority of the films concentration as they search to find their compatibly to pilot one of the remaining Jagers in hopes of saving the world. Their flowering relationship is the focus of the film and breaks up the overshadowing precedence of the terrorizing monsters that spawn below the ocean. The other five remaining Jager pilots have their quirky and superficial traits but only two of the five are given a decent amount of screen time to develop into more than just that. The Australian father-son duo of Chuck (Robert Kazinsky) and Herc (Max Martini) Hensen help flesh out a little more attitude and  encourage a range of emotions Reliegh who has a several clashes with the youngest Hensen of the pair.

The plot isn’t entirely composed of serious and earnest intentions, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day), the Kaiju expert and fanboy defuses a lot of the tension, as does Kaiju black market organizer, Hanibaul Chau (Ron Perlman), reminding us that this is a fun summer movie with their banter and Day’s kookiness. Overall the tone is set by the commanding presence of Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecoas. His proclamations are enough to prepare you for war yourself as you sit in your seat.

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Del Toro paints one of his most extravagantly distinct settings yet, building a lot off of the ridiculously flamboyant world we saw in Hellboy II. The ultramodern, high-tech world definitely reflects various anime influences but Del Toro makes them extremely authentic from a real world perspective. His uncapped imagination manifest the perfect background for this innovative backdrop.

Pacific Rim easily achieves the scope that movies like Transformers failed to do. The range of battle scenes are perfect. Instead of watching three-dozen gears shift up just to show a leg move, we get to see everything. And we are ever so thankful after gritting our teeth through a Transformers seen where we only saw some elbow joints and ten explosions after.

There isn’t an enormous amount of content below the surface of Pacific Rim because there wasn’t meant to be. There’s a decent amount of development from the major characters, but it’s still a giant robots and monsters movie. It maintained a linear bearing, but its aiming  in the desired direction for this type of movie. It wears its heart on the sleeve because it wants you to be able to jump right in and enjoy the movie for its entirety.

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Everything in this film has some kind of individuality, even if its just a subtle touch. Humanity exceeds beyond the people on the ground all the way into the Jagers who admit personified features of their pilots. One’s a get-it-done by any means scraper, another is almost like a ninja with its quick movements, they all bring something different. You start to root for them like prize fighters in a ring.

Even the Kaiju inimitable. Their various distinctive characteristics accompanied by their ridiculous nicknames, like Knifehead for example, easily crack smiles to those of us who remember the titles of monsters that appeared in the old Godzilla movies.

Guierllmo Del Torro not only shows his appreciation for the old Japanee Kaiju films, but he reveals the inspiration they sparked for such a massively enjoyable film. Its not as much as a tribute as it is a passing of the torch.

Pacific Rim is a genre film, that’s for sure, much like the classic movies its encouraged by. But its creativity is exceedingly refreshing in a summer full of reboots and sequels. It’s nice to walk into the theater with no predetermined expectations. Sitting back and just welcoming all that Del Toro offers is easy to do. My face still hurts from smiling nearly the entire way through. We need more movies like Pacific Rim.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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