Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kukichi, Rob Kazinsky, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, Max Martini, Ellen McLain
Written by: Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham
It's a Guillermo del Toro film.
Without much of Guillermo del Toro's touch in it.
Del Toro is like a kid let loose in his favourite shop in this film - it's obvious that his fanboy fanaticism for the creatures vs humans stories shines through here. It's like the monster of all monster flicks, seen through the lens of a director who has long been a supporter. It's a summer spectacular, one that is thoroughly enjoyable. Is it the best summer blockbuster you'll ever see? No, but it's not that far off. It's perfect for families to enjoy together, it has breathtaking visuals and an entertaining concept. The only downfall is the slightly jarring dialogue and pacing - but that doesn't seem to affect the cheers and claps coming from the audience in the film's greatest moments. There was a pretty loud reaction in our screen to the cancellation of this apocalypse.
The ideas of the kaiju and the mechs are nothing 'new' - they've had a time long tradition of being featured in several publications before. But it's safe to say that none of them can compare in scale to this hulking $190 million behemoth.
The story centres around the kaiju, large monsters, who have appeared from an area in the Pacific Ocean. To combat these monsters, humanity makes monsters of it's own in the form of the Jaeger program - giant mechs controlled by two pilots who are linked by a neural bridge. The story follows a brilliant pilot of such a mech - Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), who is plagued by a tragedy that doesn't let up in the film's plot in what seems to be vaguely reminiscent of Top Gun. He's a rebel who does what he feels is right - which doesn't always make him so. He must learn to reign in control under the watchful eyes of his tougher-than-nails and strict commander Stacker (Idris Elba), while learning to work alongside other, equally brilliant but emotionally scared individuals - such as a pair of scientists (played by Burn Gorman and Charlie Day) that are both equally genius and ridiculous. Raleigh gets saddled with a wildly unpredictable (but completely predictable if you've seen any movie in this genre) co-pilot who has issues of her own in Mako (Rinko Kukichi).
The enigmatic del Toro has even stated that part of the film's aim was to recognise that it's always those individuals who are flawed who can come to our rescue - and that's all well and good, because where would these stories be without such flawed characters? The quintessential hero, ever since the popularisation of romantic Byronic heroes, has focused on being an essentially flawed character that has pulled it out of the bag at the last moment by turning their flaw into a strength. That's great - but did we really need the clichés and the offbeat dialogue to make this work? This film was never about the human aspect - it, like the audience, is just there for the ride. When going to see Pacific Rim, you aren't going to see it for brilliant and intimate portrayals of the inner turmoil of humanity - you'll go to see the giant robots beat the living daylights out of the monsters. The film knows and understands this - which is where the problem partly lies. It relegates the overarching plot - as energetic as it is - and puts it to the back burner at times for the large scale visuals.
And it works.
A little bit - it's definitely a stunning piece. It looks beautiful, and you'll find yourself pumping your fist in the air silently every time one of the kaiju get decked in the face. But in the between moments, some of the story will leave you wanting more from the actors - who put in decent performances of the summer action flick stereotype variety.
It's not a typical del Toro film - you won't find the chaotically enchanting/light touch he applies with Pan's Labyrinth - nor the haunting essence of some of his other works such as The Devil's Backbone. Or even anything like his run in with the Blade franchise of Blade 2. In fact, it looks more Shawn Levy (of Real Steel fame) got his hands on a film and brought on del Toro as a consultant.
His regulars all make appearances in the film or behind the camera, and they're all the better for it - the excellent production design can be attributed to Andrew Neskeromny - a long time stalwart. The brilliant cinematography goes to another Guillermo - Navarro. Even a main actor from Hellboy pops up for a brilliant, zany and carbon copy (from science fiction lore) cameo. It's still missing that typical del Toro stamp, however - but parts of his influence are still present.
That doesn't make it any less fun however - it's still well worth watching.
It won't change your mind on the summer blockbuster genre typical outings, and if you've seen Transformers, Real Steel or any movie of the sort, you won't be in for anything new.
But it's still ingeniously fun to watch the enthralling fight sequences and to hear Elba recite a heroic set of lines and end with the now infamous line from the trailer.
Should you see it?
Should you see it?
What the Mr. Thought:
It's your run-of-the-mill monster mashup action flick - but it doesn't try to hide it, outdo competitors or to create something truly unique and original. In fact, it's something of like a giant homage - just paying tribute to those that have come before (despite the film's opening sequence including a poke at Transformers). It runs the gamut with an unflatteringly honesty and modesty - it doesn't shy away from the main selling points and it does them well. Not a must see - but definitely a worthwhile couple of hours on a warm summer's eve or afternoon.
What the Misses Thought:
Striking battle scenes, powerful machinery and characters you can connect with. Those are a few things I loved about this film. However some of the plot points I felt were predictable, but this didn't ruin the overall film for me! While this isn't the best film I have ever seen it is very much worth a watch!
Interesting bit of trivia - the woman who voices the Jaeger AI will be familiar to gamers.
It's the voice of GLaDOS from Portal - voiced by the talented Ellen McLain.
But remember, you didn't hear this from us,
The Mr. and the Misses!