Written & Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Kelly, and Ron Pearlman.
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
I make no qualms about being a rabid fan of del Toro. The guy is a fanboy, lifelong lover of all things geek, and in my humble opinion – one of the best directors/film makers on the planet. With that said, it comes as no shock that I loved Pacific Rim. I grew up watching monster movies as often as possible, so old school Godzilla or Mothra movies were a point of fascination. Despite the rubbery outfits and less than impressive models used to destroy Tokyo, I hold them near and dear. When I first got a Shogun Warrior and Godzilla combo, my backyard was home to hours upon hours of my own monster movie brawls. I hate the Transformers franchise, so for me, this is the one I’ve been waiting for.
Despite the lack of warmth or real connectivity when it came to the human scenes, I trust del Toro enough to believe he knew what he was doing. He’s certainly aware of his summer blockbuster approach to an anti-summer blockbuster. I enjoyed the combo of Raleigh (Hunnam) and Mako (Kikuchi) and found them to be very enjoyable protagonists. They each have a deep-seated reason for piloting these impressive Jaegers, a necessary component to the film, and a required human element. When they begin their pilot drift, it becomes clear that this is the team to beat,
This spoiler-free review isn’t going to serve as breakdown of Jaeger technology or why the Kaiju made no sense; this is a sci-fi movie about giant sea monsters and human-piloted robots with swords and plasma canons, some powered by nuclear reactors. If you have a hard time suspending disbelief, man, are you ever going to hate this film. I read an interview with del Toro about his abiding love of old school monster movies and his insanely artistic approach to creating new characters that mimicked the past while remaining resolute to embrace 2013’s technology.
Starting off with a breathtaking battle, it becomes very clear that del Toro aimed to satisfy the throwback element of this film. The main star of this film are the stunning special effects. Trudging through the ocean, or dragging a freight ship down a major metro city, these Jaegers are some of the most bad ass characters to grace geek films in years. Even in the digital age, the Jaeger named “Gipsy Danger”, an analog machine with a nuclear heart, is the heart of the film. Immune to the evolution of the Kaiju, the machine, much like its pilots, must rise up to a higher calling to defeat these trans-dimensional killers. Every glorious, rain-soaked, frame reminds me that my love of sci-fi and robots never faltered; I’m still a kid a heart, and del Toro is as well. The completely original sword-welding robots thrilled me with each rocket-powered punch. I’m sure there was a moment or two when popcorn was dropping out of my wide-open mouth. Seeing a giant Jaeger shred downtown Hong Kong while using a 300,000 ton freight ship as a weapon is pretty freaking cool.
Pacific Rim looks like an updated Blade Runner with an anti-Transformers feel. del Toro has created a popcorn film for the summer without relying on the cliches that makes those films completely forgettable. This was exactly what I hoped for: giant robots and monsters beating the hell out of each other and leveling cities in their wake. The only thing left now is to impatiently await the Blu Ray and the hopeful hours and hours of bonus footage and making-of featurettes.
With this huge success under his belt let’s go ahead and get started on The Mountains of Madness!