[Review] Pacific Rim (spoiler free)
While not generally considered a “highly anticipated” summer movie, Pacific Rim stirred interest in certain groups of people. Do you like watching giant robots fighting giant monsters? Congratulations! You are part of that demographic.
Looking like it came out of the pages of a trope-filled manga gone wrong, Pacific Rim is every monster movie fan’s dream come true. Towering, skyscraper-tall robots fighting grotesque, powerful monsters of the Japan-stomping variety…what more could you want from a movie?
The story largely circles around humanity’s attempts to squelch the seemingly random attack by said giant monsters, or ‘Kaiju,’ which literally translates to “strange creature.” Humanity’s first response is, of course, to build a dozen or so two hundred-foot-tall robots of war, each with a different type of attack and it’s own action figure (because it’s a movie; that’s why!).
Each robot, or ‘Jaeger,’ is piloted by two people, as the strain of piloting a giant robot is ‘too much for just one person.’ This lays the groundwork for the main plot, which follows a young Jaeger pilot who lost his brother in a Kaiju attack, and is being called back into service after five years of menial labor.
Most of the Jaegers have been deactivated in favor of building a giant wall along the Pacific to shield the cities from the Kaiju. And you probably thought the giant robot solution sounded ridiculous. Our hero is being called into service to be part of a last-ditch attempt to stop the Kaiju one and for all, before the Jaeger department gets completely shut down.
I went into this movie with expectations of seeing giant robots fighting giant monsters. I have to say, I was not disappointed. The fighting sequences were over-the-top, larger-than-life, special-effects filled, glorious nuggets of pure adrenaline. I may have even squeaked like a little girl during one of them. I will deny that if you ask me about it.
Oh, and I saw it in 3-D. That was a plus for this movie, in my opinion. The director didn’t try to throw something at the audience every 5 minutes, and the depth of field that was added gave a lot to showing the scale of some of the action. Speaking of directing, it can be hard to set up shots that don’t make larger-than-life objects look like a normal-sized object in a world of miniatures. Del Toro delivered, as there was no doubt in my mind that one of these monsters could squish me into peanut butter with a slight misstep.
I was very pleased that they didn’t cut any of the battles short, but instead drew them out long enough that it didn’t seem like they were throwing bits of action into a tedious plot-line. It seemed instead that the plot was only there to give the action purpose. Which I was absolutely fine with. Cities were destroyed, buildings were stepped on, gas tanker trucks were used as baseball bats…it was magnificent. The plot itself, while nothing spectacular, wasn’t terrible. While it wasn’t quite strong enough to support the movie by itself (without the incredible fight scenes), it was good enough to hold the movie together.
Granted, there were a few times where I thought, “Well, why did they do that? Why didn’t they do ‘X’ instead?”, but I wouldn’t say there were any big plot holes. The story was somewhat predictable, and the ending was borrowed almost in it’s entirety from another movie, but overall, it was decent.
While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the acting abilities of some of the main cast, the supporting cast was great. Burn Gorman from “Torchwood” and Charlie Day from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” provided some much-appreciated comic levity. Charlie Hunnam of “Sons of Anarchy” fame gave a solid, if a bit dry, performance as the lead character. The characters themselves, while believable and relate-able to a point, were somewhat cliché. You had your lone-wolf leading man, who didn’t want to get emotionally close to anybody. You had your romantic interest, who was supposed to be ‘deep’ because of her troubled past, but really wasn’t. You had your token government boss-type, who took no crap. There just weren’t many surprises here.
Overall, the movie was really enjoyable. I’d say it was about on par with a well-done B-movie as far as the story and cast, but it was strictly A-list material when it came to any kind of action sequence. If you prefer movies that make you think and have interesting plot twists, then you may have a hard time watching this movie. If you just like to sit down and be entertained by mindless action and lots of special effects, this just may be your new go-to movie.
Bottom line, I enjoyed every minute of it. I recommend it to anyone who can appreciate a good, purely entertaining movie.