Skip to main content

Review: Pacific Rim

 The concept of monsters and giant robots bashing each other is certainly not new (Godzilla, several anime shows, etc.), but Pacific Rim has a secret weapon up its sleeve: Guillermo del Toro. Every picture Del Toro makes is infused with an enthusiasm for creatures and fantastical elements that could only come from the mind of the man who brought us Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and Cronos.

In the year 2020, a collision of techtonic plates in the Pacific has created a breach in the Earth's crust releasing massive beasts called the "kaiju" that plague cities around the world. To combat the threat, humans build gigantic mechas (named jaegers) in hopes that they can ward off the monsters threatening humanity. Instead of remote operation, these mechas can only be operated by two pilots mentally linked in "drift space".

(As a quick aside, as cool as it looks for two people to pilot the jaegers, but why a robot needs a human to act out a punch in this age of remote control warfare is just a little puzzling.)

The Jaegers prove to only delay the destruction a little longer and in the midst of the chaos, world leaders decide to shelter themselves inside kaiju-proof compounds. It goes without saying that these kaiju-proof compounds work in name only and with the jaegers out of operation, there aren't many options left.

Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) crafts a plan to use nukes to close the breach from the inside. To do so, he needs to convince former jaeger pilot Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), to end a self-enforced exile and partner up with Pentecost's assistant, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). Even if Pentecost manages to bring Raleigh onboard, the odds look slim, the only weapon at their disposal is an obsolete jaeger.

It was proposed by critics that the thrill of Pacific Rim would be less palpable because of the Transformers series, but those critics were very wrong. The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed, with each kaiju battle unique in its aesthetic, placing the audience right into the heart of the action. Everything is shot cleanly, without any of the shaky-cam mess or the extreme close-ups that diminish the grand scale with which everything unfolds. So thanks should be given to del Toro's regular cinematography Guillermo Navarro as well as editors John Gilroy and Peter Amundson for capturing the essence of a movie featuring giant robots should be.

Pacific Rim doesn't just shine in its action, but it also beats Transformers in another aspect where that franchise failed: humanity. The human factor that was completely missing in Michael Bay's efforts, is available in abundance with their central cast proving to be very capable in creating characters worth caring about. del Toro's picture succeeds because Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idirs Elba take characters frequented in many pictures and layer them with charm, warmth and unity. When an audience is watching robots beat up monsters it's easy to forget the human stakes involved, but with this talented cast, that is never a worry.

That's not to say the film works completely. Years worth of character backgrounds and initial battles are fit into a 20 minute prologue and while that part works fine, the rhythm is lost afterward. Leaving sags during the film where it feels like del Toro is just following a blueprint with story elements feeling too similar to moments other big-budget flicks. Luckily, the highlight of the action sequences and the cast outweigh any of those problems.

Traditionally, Guillermo del Toro films tend to be more rewarding when they are on a more intimate scale, but Pacific Rim is... not really intimate. Still, with all that spectacle onscreen, it's hard to take in this clash of mechanical and monstrous titans without enjoying yourself. Monster movies like this are seldom seen anymore, but del Toro's child-like glee offers a promise to the audience: you will have a blast.

Popular posts from this blog

Paprika vs. Inception

Months before Inception hit the theaters forums were alive with rumors that Christopher Nolan either accidentally or intentionally stole some details from another film, the Japanese anime Paprika. The biggest point of comparison for some bloggers and forum runners was the fact that both of the films featured a device that allowed a person, or people, to travel into another’s dreams and delve into their subconscious.
Minor points of comparison include scenes in Paprika where the character Paprika breaks through a mirrored wall by holding her hand to it, as well as a scene where a police detective falls his way down a hallway. Claims have been made that Inception abounds with imagery similar to or exactly like the anime movie, but with the recent release of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, and with Paprika available for several years now, an examination of the two plots can be made more fully.
Let us begin with the primary claim—Inception stole the idea of a dream machine from Paprika. It …

Herman Melville and Office Space

Just from gleaning the surface of Office Space one would assume that there isn't anything simmering below the surface except for a raunchy work-comedy, but they would be wrong.
After the harsh critical reception of his greatest work Moby Dick Melville wrote a collection of short stories called Bartleby and Benito Cereno perhaps the greatest slam at the time against industrial America. Bartleby is the story of a Wall Street copyist who has his three employees proof-read and copy law forms. Shortly into the story Bartleby starts responding to work commands with, "I would prefer not to." Frustrated by his employee's subordination the Narrator tries to have him fired but Bartleby refuses to leave the office. The Narrator comes back the following morning to find Bartleby living inside his office. Bartleby becomes increasingly less apt to perform basic functions as eating after he is jailed for trespassing and dies in a jail cell. What at once starts out as a comedy has …

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare Giveaway

We’re not playing the game, it’s playing us! A harmless game of "Truth or Dare" among friends turns deadly when someone--or something--begins to punish those who tell a lie--or refuse the dare. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, opening in theaters Friday the 13th! To celebrate the release of this terrifying new film we have a Truth or Dare giveaway for readers. Play the app below with a friend and take the Truth or Dare challenge to see who survives. To enter, tag a friend you'd bring along to the film to @wordsbycbiggs on Twitter and use the #TruthOrDareMovie hashtag. One lucky winner will receive a prize pack, which includes: 1 - Limited Edition Truth or Dare Card Game: This limited edition Truth or Dare Game is only available via this promotion and has a run of 200 pieces worldwide. It has a card deck featuring dares and the creepy crawly items you need to satisfy the dares in the deck. Test your resolve… The truth will set you free! 1 - Truth or Dare Official Promo Tank - O…