In a word? AWESOMELY-COOL.
Let’s be clear, though: The main reason anyone wants to see a movie like Pacific Rim is to watch robots smack the snot out of monsters and vice versa.
Set in the not-too-distant future, Pacific Rim picks up after a string of apocalyptic sea-monster attacks. The movie is based on two simple concepts, the Japanese word ‘Kaiju’ which translates into ‘giant monster’ and the German word ‘Jaeger’ which means ‘hunter’. These initial definitions are given at the on-set of the film, as character Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) gives a narrative of the world as it is in Pacific Rim. It turns out that a breach in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean has ripped open and loosed an armada of kaiju. Humanity is defenseless against their massive, razor-toothed maws and battering-ram limbs — at least until the military’s high-tech Jaeger program is born. The Jaegers are giant humanoid mecha robots operated by two human pilots whose minds are neutrally linked in a process called ”the drift”. The Jaegers are only as good as their operators, who must be able to read each other’s thoughts and intuit each other’s next moves. They shared mind would also be an intimate blending of memories of each pilot. How they feel, emote, react would be based on a mental synchronicity. The better the compatibility, the more successful the end result would be of fighting against the Kaiju. The Jaegers would become the global guardians, as an on-going war would continue for the next several years.
Pacific Rim is set in the 2020’s as the audience catches up with the war, how civilization has coped, and what could potentially be the end of humanity as we know it. Did I mention this is the first maybe 15-minutes of the movie? (And I won’t be going beyond that in reviewing this movie.)
The visuals in Pacific Rim are second to none, and Del Toro has outdone himself in creating truly terrifying beasts. The Kaiju, as they are called in the film, are movie-monsters that make Godzilla look like a lumpy beast.
You might think you’d get tired of robots whooping on monsters for two hours, but the action ramps up perfectly throughout the film as the Kaiju “evolve” and force desperate tactics from the so-called Jaegers. The fights are highly engaging. These are fight scenes that you can feel.
Not only does it begin on a fairly dark note, it’s also a classic “turn off your brain and enjoy” kind of movie. One aspect of the film that definitely could have been improved upon was the number of plot-holes and inconsistencies. I do my best to suspend my disbelief, but there were some moments in Pacific Rim that is hard to gulp, and I’m not even talking about the idea of mind-melding with someone to control a robot together.
The characters and the situations come right out of comic-book and/or anime stock, giving the actors little to do but represent the old, familiar tropes. And the characters are pretty predictable too – the scientists who are a bit kooky and a comedy double act, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Dr. Herman Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are figuring out a way to defeat the Kaijus. Both of them have different theories and bicker constantly.
Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is a predictably hunky choice for the male lead but Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori) is a wonderfully unexpected one, and rocks as Mako. She’s tough, she’s tender and she has cool hair.
Herc Hansen (Max Martini) and Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky) are a father-son duo who operates Striker Eureka (Australian Jaeger). Also in the mix is Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), a shady dealer of Kaiju body parts.
Of all the cast, it’s Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who brings some dignity and gravitas to the fore with yet another role showing his talents – he alone stands as tall as the robotic creations which inhabit this world (despite delivering a rousing speech to the troops that we’ve all seen before).
There is a balance of action, comedy, and a healthy dose of acceptable (or awesome) cheesiness. Del Toro works to satisfy both the adults and children in the audience and for both, you don’t stop enjoying what you are watching. The film is meant to be an adventure. It’s meant to be fun. It’s meant to entertain and leave you with a true sense of wonder.
The only other weakness of Del Toro’s film is the character development, but frankly, I didn’t go see this movie expecting an Oscar-contender, so I can’t really fault him for that. Idris Elba is the big fish in the small pond of characters in this film. He gives a strong performance. The rest of the cast, notably Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, are unremarkable at best.
So if you can forget some plot-holes, unexplained changes of heart, and a little bit of deus ex machina, then Pacific Rim will absolutely blow you away with its visuals. It is a spectacle in the purest sense of the word. Go see it.
There’s a reason to spend extra cash to watch this, better be in 3D for its superb special effects. It’s just a mindlessly fun movie which I enjoyed greatly. And again, yes, you should go watch it. So, here’s the trailer for those who haven’t seen it yet.