Pacific Rim got it right. So many movies try to be things that their not, but not Pacific Rim. It knows exactly what it is and delivers upon that promise in all of its big stupid glory. This is due to the vision of director Guillermo del Toro, who set out to make one larger than life fun monster movie and guess what? He delivered just that. You get to see giant Robots fighting aliens in the biggest way possible, and it results in the some of the most fun that I’ve had in the theater in a long time.
The film quickly throws us into the mix with a quick explanation of the plot, saving us time from an overlong, and probably unnecessary origins montage or even hour long sequence. We learn that these alien monsters known as Kaiju have begun appearing and destroying cities, forcing all the countries to put their differences aside and come together as one in order to save themselves. Their solution is the creation of giant fighting machines known as Jaegers. These Jaegers are giant sized robots that are meant for hand-to-hand combat with the Kaiju. The robots are so large that it requires two pilots to operate. The pilots need to form a neural handshake which is the synchronizing with the Jaeger itself by having the pilots share emotion, memories and instincts, allowing them to control the Jaeger as one true team. On the surface that’s really all you need to know about the film, and you’re ready to dive in.
Many are quick to assault the characters or the actors in the film, which is unfair because of what type of movie this is, and because they’re just one part of a much larger picture. Our hero is Raleigh Becket, played by Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam. We see him go through a traumatizing event as a Jaeger pilot at the start of the film and see him as a shell of his former self in the five years that pass since this event, where the rest of the film occurs. Becket leaves the program after this event, but is called back by Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who is in charge of the Jaeger program. Elba gives a riveting performance, stealing every scene that he is in.
Then you have Raleigh’s new co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a cocky father and son Jaeger team of Herc and Chuck Hansen (Max Martini / Robert Kazinsky), Kaiju scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) & Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) who serve as comic relief, and Kaiju black market criminal Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). People’s complaints seem to be that these characters seemed to come off as too cartoonish, but I think that was something that Del Toro intended, considering the type of film that this is.
For 2 hours and 10 minutes you will be bloody entertained on all kinds of levels. Pacific Rim provides as much entertainment and action as you will see in a film all year, with some spellbinding amazing special effects that are larger than life. You see these robots and aliens absolutely level each other and everything around them, and it will leave you smiling from ear to ear throughout the movie like a little kid again. The scope and look of this film is unbelievable. The heart and soul of the film is the mashing and bashing, but there’s also a little bit of heart to be found beating in Pacific Rim. There are even some sentimental moments such as when we see a childhood flashback of Mako Mori that was way more touching and effective than I expected. The film really should have built more scenes in similar fashion, as it was actually quite moving.
Del Toro believed in this story and compromised nothing for it. He made this for the fans and accomplishes everything that he set out to. You get a cool story, bad-ass robots, cool monsters, and riveting action that is anchored by some of the best special effects you will ever see. The acting is just what the film calls for, with a fantastic Iris Elba, as well as a scene stealing Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Day provides some wacky but assured comic relief that seems like a episode of It’s Always Sunny gone way deep into the sci-fi genre. It’s great.
The fact that Pacific Rim got made and was believed in enough by a major studio to give them a $190 million budget is an accomplishment. It’s a movie that isn’t a sequel, remake, or adaptation. You’ve seen elements of things in Pacific Rim before, but never quite like this. The fact that Del Toro could make something original and wickedly entertaining from beginning to end, is an accomplishment, and it’s going to be a movie that is highly re-watchable which will make its legend live on as a not so cult classic for many years to come.
Go in to Pacific Rim expecting to have a grand old time and you will get exactly that, and much much more. It’s the summer movie that we all deserve. Not everything has to be a bleak dark thought-provoking drama. Sometimes a little bit of fun is to be had in the theaters, and that is exactly what Pacific Rim sets out to do and accomplishes with flying honors.