Pacific Rim Movie Review
Robots vs. Monsters. Need I say more about PACIFIC RIM? If that phrase sounds ridiculous, that’s probably because it is… Ridiculously Awesome! OK, maybe not quite as awesome as it tries to be but clearly the film’s aspirations are meant for a simple escape in a mindless summer blockbuster. If that sounds enticing, I’m sure you will have a smashing good time in the theater as I did.
In PACIFIC RIM a Kaiju is a 3000-ton amphibious monster. Of course the term Kaiju has been around for years. Originating with the Japanese, Kaiju has usually represented any abnormally giant beast, most notably, GODZILLA, MOTHRA, GAMERA and KING KONG. For the sake of this film, the Kaiju originated from a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean called the Breach. We learn this from a simple voice over at the top of the film. The full logistics are unimportant as long as we get to some giant Kaiju monsters fighting some super cool giant robots.
The Kaiju are determined to take over our planet by destroying everything in sight. As the years have gone on the Kaiju have come more frequently and more fiercely. The larger and more dangerous the Kaiju, the higher the category it is assigned. In order to stop the Kaiju, all the nations have united together to build giant fighting robots called Jaegers. Armed with extensive weaponry, the Jaeger is operated by teams of two who become world heroes like your favorite sports team.
Recent advertisement for PACIFIC RIM have highlighted a certain Jaeger or Kaiju with either their nationality or category level along with other fighting stats. Much like how wrestling has a face (good guy) and a heel (bad guy), this is where the film excels. The four remaining Jaegers left in the world are controlled by Russia, China, America and the reigning champs Australia. With names like Gipsy Danger (U.S.A.) and Striker Eureka (Australia), what’s not to like? Unfortunately, PACIFIC RIM didn’t capitalize on this; missing out on an opportunity to give the Russian team with their fun costuming some extra personality or the three-team operators inside China any memorable stance other than their Jaeger having a third arm. The right idea was there, they just didn’t go far enough.
All the characters for that matter are colorful and unique, if only they could have spread some of the love, giving these individuals some time to shine. As it stands, PACIFIC RIM does cram a lot in and is smart enough (or perhaps not too dumb) to know that extensive explanations are unnecessary for a film of this caliber. Borrowing a tip from INDEPENDENCE DAY, our scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as a bit of the comedy relief) are able to figure out our enemies motives through their brains. Unlike the B-movies you might find on the Syfy channel, actors Idris Elba (PROMETHEUS, The Wire), Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Undeclared), and Rinko Kikuchi (BABEL, THE BROTHER’S BLOOM) are quite likable and charismatic despite some rather poor dialogue.
Director Guillermo del Toro definitely has a vision worth seeing. For the most part the action is easy to follow and fun to watch. It’s important not to start asking questions like, “Why use a large yacht as a hitting device when the robot still has a sword?” or “Why not stand back and use the firearms rather than hand to hand combat?” The actors did fine playing up the tone with a hint of awareness while keeping it straight. I can’t help but get a smile on my face when a hero saves the day and I think PACIFIC RIM could have played this up a little more. The addition of Charlie Day and Ron Perlman add some much needed humor that the film also struggles with. But at the end of the day, does any of this really matter as long as we see some giant robots fight disgusting monsters?