Guillermo Del Toro
Charlie Hunnam - Raleigh Becket
Idris Elba - Stacker Pentecost
Rinko Kikuchi - Mako Mori
Charlie Day - Dr. Newton Geizler
Burn Gorman - Dr. Hermann Gottlieb
Ron Perlman - Hannibal Chau
Robert Kazinsky - Chuck Hansen
Max Martini - Herc Hansen
Genre - Action/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Monsters/Robots
Running Time - 132 Minutes
All over the world, Kaiju [or giant monsters] have been invading to destroy the planet. The government has created an initiative where military personnel train soldiers in handling Jaegers [or giant robots] in order to fight off these monsters using brain waves. Pan Pacific Defense Corps, run by Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), orders two of his best pilots/soldiers, Raliegh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and his older brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff), to fight off a Kaiju attacking Alaska. During the battle, Yancy is murdered and Raliegh is stranded, traumatized by his brother's death - especially since he was mentally linked with him during the battle.
Five years after this battle, Raleigh has remained in Alaska working as a construction worker. Apparently there's a plan to build a huge barrier to prevent Kaiju from attacking the area. Pentecost eventually finds Raleigh, wanting him to rejoin the team after Government funding is being stopped due to the failure of the program. Only four Jaegers remain and the Kaiju have evolved into stronger creatures. Pentecost hopes that Raliegh is the key to defeat this menace once and for all.
I honestly had no interest in PACIFIC RIM, even though it had some huge marketing and buzz going for it. I love Guillermo Del Toro's works as both a director and a producer, but this film was barely on my radar even though people around me wanted to really see it. It wasn't until this week that people praised the film to me, saying it's a true blockbuster that needs to be seen in theaters. Even though I wasn't overly excited about PACIFIC RIM, I still decided to check it and see if it was worth the buzz it was getting.
To my surprise, PACIFIC RIM definitely deserves the praise and buzz it's receiving.
THE AVENGERS last year made me feel like a kid again. This year, that right goes to PACIFIC RIM. The film is just a visual spectacle that's food for the eyes. It brought me back to my youth, bringing about memories of watching GODZILLA, Voltron, and even a bit of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Watching giant robots and giant alien monsters beat the crap out of each other for a majority of 132 minutes kept me glued to my seat and put a smile on my face. Sure, it's total CGI. But once you get into the action, that aspect doesn't even matter. In fact, it felt like I was watching a live-action anime movie, just with a majority of non-Asian actors.
The story is fairly conventional. The hero has a tragic past, which motivates him til the end. The love interest has an even more tragic past, which feeds her vengeance and connects her to the hero. The boss is your stereotypical hard ass until his vulnerability is revealed, making him realize what a fool he's been for so long. The hero has a rival who learns to respect him by the end. Plus, you get the comic relief in the form of two scientists who figure out what's really going on with the Kaiju. Yet, the screenwriting and the direction give this generic action stuff some charm and a bit of a soul and heart. Even though you only know just a bit about these characters, you sort of care about them and whether they'll succeed or not. I honestly was not expecting that, since most films like this [*ahem* TRANSFORMERS] make the human characters look like idiots to do immature screenwriting. Those films are just about the spectacle and effects. PACIFIC RIM is also about that, but it also takes the time out to give these characters deep enough arcs for us to relate to. We understand why they behave as they do, and completely understand how they grow and change by the end of the film. We also get concrete answers as to why the Kaiju are attacking Earth and why they've only started to do so, even though they had been around since the Prehistoric Age. The film isn't a deep one, but it gives us enough information to care about the human elements in between the more successful action sequences.
And I got to say, Guillermo Del Toro must have had a blast making PACIFIC RIM. The battles between the Kaiju and the Jaegers are pretty epic and are very frequent as well. This helps pace the film a lot better than I had been expecting, as it felt a whole lot shorter than it actually is. I was honestly surprised that the film had ended so quickly, even though I was sitting down for almost two-and-a-half hours. Like I said, the film is basically a CGI affair. But it has to be for the story to work and the CGI used looks pretty damn great. The battles are brutal as well, as the Jaegers get destroyed and the Kaiju get amputations and even murdered. This is no Power Rangers kiddie stuff here. This is some adult action that only makes you feel younger than you actually are. Even though I knew it was all fake and cartoonish, I still connected to it and enjoyed myself. That's the sign of a great film. It may not be Del Toro's best film, but it was definitely his most fun.
The acting is also a lot better than I was expecting. Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy plays a very good hero as Raleigh. He has that Jax swagger going for him here and handles the material well. Idris Elba is great as Marshal Pentecost. Elba had an extremely stereotypical boss character, but the man knows how to bring depth to even one-note characters. I thought he was a highlight. Rinko Kikuchi does well as Mako. Her character works mainly due to her nice chemistry with Hunnam. Charlie Day from one of my favorite shows, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, is a comedic highlight as Dr. Newton. His scenes with Ron Perlman are great. Speaking of Perlman, he's funny as Hannibal Chau. He's always a pleasure to watch on screen, and PACIFIC RIM is no exception.
THE FINAL HOWL
PACIFIC RIM may not be my favorite film of the summer, or even the year, but it's definitely the better ones I've seen. It's a B-movie with a huge budget, highlighted by a story that's actually smarter than one would expect. If you're looking for something deep and thought provoking, then the film is not for you. But if you want to see giant monsters and giant robots battle it out for supremacy, then PACIFIC RIM is the ticket to buy. I totally recommend any film that could make me feel like I'm 12 years old again. Definitely worth the price of admission.