Pacific Rim is what all summer blockbusters strive to be: entertaining. We can practically see the film’s director, Guillermo del Toro, standing over these giant robots and monsters like a boy playing with action figures, so it’s no surprise that he has stated this is the film he’s wanted to make since he was a child. Surely inspired by the Godzilla movies of the 60’s, Pacific Rim has all the action, destruction and mayhem that you’d expect a giant monster movie to have, even if it kind of drops the ball a little in the character department.
Del Toro wastes no time setting up the story and shows the first monster, known as Kaiju, invading San Francisco in the opening montage sequence. In the same sequence we’re introduced to Jaegers, the giant robots built as a defense against the Kaiju, which have to be controlled by two pilots whose minds are melded together by a technique called “The Drift”. A single pilot can’t control the enormous machines; it’s too much for a single brain to handle. After the two pilots are connected via The Drift, they essentially share one mind and can control the Jaeger together. It’s actually one of the more interesting aspects of the story, especially when Raleigh’s co-pilot/brother is killed during a fight with a Kaiju and the emotional impact is too much for Raleigh to bear.
The film then fast forwards five years. Raleigh is now a construction worker building a giant wall designed to keep the Kaiju out. The government is about to close the doors on the Jaeger program, so of course Raleigh has to be enticed to re-enlist by his old commanding officer Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba. Pentecost is your typical military leader, stern but with a heart of gold, especially geared towards his protégé Mako, played by Rinko Kikuchi. In fact, I’d say most of the characters are stereotypical but all is forgiven once the action kicks in.
And the action does indeed kick in. When I first saw the trailer, I was a little worried the action scenes were going to be an indecipherable mess, where you can’t differentiate the robot from the monster, but thankfully I was proven wrong. There are moments where it is difficult to see but that’s more due to the scenes taking place at night and in the rain. One scene even takes place under water. Guillermo del Toro knows how to direct an action movie though and he stays on his shots for longer than the typical half second that most action movies seem to do these days. Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography is top-notch and the scenes are also aided by the wonderful score provided by Ramin Djawadi. Djawadi also scored 2008’s Iron Man.
There’s a fun sub-plot, involving It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day, who plays a rock-star scientist named Newt who is obsessed with the Kaiju. He longs to see one alive and up close, to which he’s told by Hunnam’s Becket “No, you don’t.” Day provides some nice comic relief, along with a fun cameo by del Toro alum Ron Perlman. Unfortunately, most of Day’s scenes are accompanied by another scientist who is more annoying than anything else. He’s played by Burn Gorman who overacts and turns the character into nothing more than a cartoon character. It’s a shame, really, since Gorman did such a great job in The Dark Knight Rises as Ben Mendelsohn’s slithering side-kick.
Pacific Rim offers you robots vs. monsters and asks you to forgive the cheesy dialogue, or the lack of character development. If you’re OK with that, then you’ll have a good time at the movie theater. If you’re not OK with that… Who knows? You might still have a good time at the movie theater.
I give it a B+.