Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pacific Rim

Year: 2013
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman

Plot: When gigantic monsters from another dimension rise up from the Pacific Ocean and destroys everything in their path, humanity responds by building giant robots to combat them.

Review: Someone described Pacific Rim as director Guillermo del Toro taking a bunch of toys to his backyard and playing with them, and it shows. The film depicts a large amount of carnage and citywide destruction at the hands of both monsters (dubbed Kaiju) and robots (dubbed Jaeger) alike, and damn it's fun to watch.

You could say that del Toro and writer Travis Beacham made lots of references to old Japanese monster flicks and maybe Gundam as well, but they certainly succeeded in making Pacific Rim their own animal. The story is pretty straightforward: monsters show up to destroy everything, man makes giant robots to fight back.

Our protagonists are two people who have to team up and pilot a Jaeger together: Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori. Of course they have problems as we would expect, but it's not from working together, it's from their pasts, each of them having personal demons that they have to exorcise. Charlie Hunnam and Babel's Rinko Kikuchi make a great team on screen, though it's fortunate that Pacific Rim is more of a cast led picture, since Hunnam isn't really leading man material yet, at least not here. But he's good in his role, and so is Kikuchi.

Idris Elba makes a commanding presence as the Jaegers leader while Charlie Day (annoying voice and all) and Burn Gorman play two over eccentric scientists that contribute to the fight against the Kaiju. Guillermo's favorite guy Ron Perlman shows up as an illegal Kaiju parts trader and absolutely owns the role.

As for the Jaeger Kaiju fights, it's needless to say that they are awesome to behold. Watching these huge monsters punch, lash, burn, throw and pummel each other to a pulp is immensely fun and never gets boring, thanks to del Toro's direction and some great cinematography by Guillermo Navarro. My only gripe is that most of these battles take place at night and during rain, probably to make them look more convincing and to hide the obviousness of CGI. But there were a couple of times when you couldn't see where a punch or move was being thrown, it's just a minor complaint though.

To del Toro and Beacham's credit, they put a fair amount of focus on the human characters to ensure that the monsters don't hog the spotlight, but admittedly some of these characters' pasts are quite stereotypical (losing a family member, personal trauma, fatal medical condition etc). Overall it does work for the purposes of the film, so I have no problem with them.

Pacific Rim is fun, what else is there to say? If you like summer blockbusters that feature tons of wanton destruction, this is the film to go see. (4/5) 

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