Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 11 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sequences of Intense Sci-Fi Action and Violence Throughout, and brief Language
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Written by: Travis Beacham & Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day & Ron Perlman
PACIFIC RIM is a movie that never really caught my interest when it was released. It was about giant robots fighting giant monsters and it didn’t look like it would be very good. This is a case where I am so glad that I was sorely mistaken. It seems like PACIFIC RIM was Guillermo Del Toro’s dream project from day one. It’s an ode to the cheesy kaju flicks from Japan, but also is executed in a vibrant way with a cool story to boot. Cinematically, the movie looks astounding (I now wish I had seen it on the big screen) and it’s clear that a lot of love was thrown into it.
The time is the near future and the world’s population is gripped with fear. For years, a series of gigantic creatures, known as Kaju, have been rising from the Pacific Ocean and wreaking havoc. In order to battle this monsters, the Jaeger program was initiated. This was a specialized operation that built giant robots controlled by two pilots, who share a neural connection. The government always seems to screw up good things though and the Jaeger program is no exception. With a limited amount of time left for the Jaeger program, as a useless coastal wall is being built to keep the monsters out, it’s up to a select few (a hardened commander, a fresh young pilot, another pilot with a grudge against the Kaju, and two oddball scientists) to close the portal giving these monsters entrance to our world.
Out of all of his imaginative projects, PACIFIC RIM is Guillermo’s most colorful film. It’s simply gorgeous to behold and looks amazing. Even the scenes that are just characters having discussions look stunning, given the creative set design and wonderful cinematography. Speaking of which, this isn’t 2-plus hours of robots fighting monsters. We get a bunch of nasty looking creatures and some great mayhem, but this is also a character driven story. It helps that the characters themselves are interesting, despite a couple of cliché moments that occur here and there (comes with the giant monster territory).
The cast itself is entertaining. Charlie Hunnam is a good lead, though it seems like a few minor moments needed another take. Idris Elba is badass as always. Rinko Kikuchi (as the Hunnam’s new co-pilot) is great. Also, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman have side-roles that supply some of the best comic relief in the entire movie. The villains themselves are, of course, the monsters. Guillermo Del Toro has a reputation for being the most imaginative filmmaker currently in the business. With masterful work like PAN’S LABYRINTH and the awesome creature designs in HELLBOY II, Del Toro has made sure that PACIFIC RIM is no exception. The beasts here are creative and very cool, to say the least.
The battle scenes themselves are intense, I actually felt myself clench up on a few moments and even let out some gasps. It may be a special effects packed film, but this is nowhere near the awful cringe-inducing levels of trash like TRANSFORMERS. This is a movie that shows what summer blockbusters featuring giant robots and aliens should be: fun, creative, and immensely entertaining.
There is a nitpick that becomes a full-fledged plot-hole though. In one of the middle battles, a sword is whipped out as a last resort and seems to do more damage than anything previously used. Later on, the final battle is fought completely using swords, so it makes one wonder, why the robots are punching the monsters and hitting them with ships, when there’s a perfectly good sword that can do far more damage. This actually took film down from an A to an A-. It’s just too big a plot-hole to overlook.
Even with this flaw, PACIFIC RIM rocks! It’s a fun thrill-ride that reminds one just how wild and crazy cinema can get…and still have a brain. It’s an extravaganza of a movie and I loved every second, save for a minor plot-hole. This one comes highly recommended and I can’t wait to see what Guillermo Del Toro has up his sleeve next!