Feb 042014
 

Geeks such as myself were pumped up seeing the trailer for Pacific Rim, the giant robot versus giant monster movie made by Guillermo del Toro. I’ve long been a fan of de; Toro, especially his Hellboy movies. Sadly, I wasn’t able to see Pacific Rim in the theaters (due to the sad state of the economy), but I was able to see it once it released on dvd.

As always, there may be spoilers below, so here’s a quick review. If you don’t want to know any spoilers, don’t read past this paragraph. The thrust of Pacific Rim is that a war has been going on for several years. A portal to another dimension has been opened on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Out of this portal comes the fearsome Kaijus, giant monsters wreaking havoc. Basically, you get a big-budget version of monsters duking it out with giant robots with fun for all. How can you hate on a movie with cities getting destroyed by robots and monsters fighting? You can’t! Final verdict: A-

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As for the war against humanity by the invading monsters, the initial attack happened in San Francisco where the monster was eventually defeated by conventional means. The world then united and created the Jaegers, giant robots piloted by humans to combat the Kaijus. While the first Jaegers were piloted solo, later ones were  piloted by a team of two due to the fact that the pilot had to link their brain to the machine. A single pilot was unable to take such a strain for long and so teams who were compatible with each other mentally were recruited.

The hero of the story is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who loses his brother during a fight and leaves being a Jaeger pilot to lose himself. The world’s leaders eventually decide to cease the Jaeger program, believing that walling off the coastlines from the ocean will be sufficient. The Jaeger program has been hit hard over the years despite their success and only a few Jaeger, and their respective pilots, are left. However, the commander of the Jaegers, Stacker Pentecost (played superbly by Idris Elba) brings Becket back into the program for one last push against the monsters.

Overall, the plot is neatly laid out and the setting, though fantastic, is realistically set up. I loved the fact that there was a black market specializing in Kaiju body parts, which I could see actually happening. What made it better was that the leader of said black market is Ron Perlman, who makes the best of his limited screen time. Make sure  you watch after the credits to see what happens to Perlman’s character. The normal character stereotypes you can expect in such a movie are found here, but the actors do a great job of fleshing them out and making them feel real. The character of Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) helps serve as an emotional anchor for the film. I also liked that her character wasn’t the typical sexpot that you normally find, strutting into a scene wearing tight shorts and a halter top. Mako is a capable, trained soldier and is portrayed as such.

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Of course, the meat of the movie is the fights between the Jaegers and the Kaijus. The only thing that I can say is that the fights are amazing. While I would have preferred more rockets or gunfire, I was totally fine with seeing the Jaegers go toe-to-toe with the Kaijus. About half the fights take place in the ocean, close to the shore, but the other half take place in cities, where glorious giant monster destruction abounds. If you’re looking to see a monster throw a giant robot through a building, then Pacific Rim is for you. The CGI is damn good and you can  tell they spent a pretty penny on it.

This movie is a loving homage to movies such as the Godzilla films or the ones made by Ray Harryhausen. There are quite a few battles and a  lot of scenery gets stomped on during the monster/robot brawls. I was stunned reading online comments that complained about the plot or that the movie was a mish-mash. Some commentators even said that they weren’t expecting Shakespeare, but their comments said that they were expecting something akin to Pan’s Labyrinth. Are they crazy? What don’t they get about movies with giant robots fighting giant monsters? You’re supposed to sit back and enjoy the ride. In most such films, you don’t really care about the characters as you’re just waiting for Tokyo to get stomped flat by some beastie. It’s a credit  to del Toro that he made me care about the characters in this film. Sill, he had me at giant robots and giant monsters.

I loved this movie and wished I had seen it in the theater to get the full effect. It’s a fun movie with a lot of good actors, but the real draw  is the battles between the Jaegers and the Kaijus. Watching giant robots march out to battle? Check. Different giant monsters that have specialized attacks? Check. Cities getting wasted by giant beings beating the snot out of each other? Check! What’s not to love? Final verdict: A-

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