Twitter Plot Summary: A rift has opened in the Pacific ocean, allowing giant creatures from another universe to attack Earth. Giant mechs stop them.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Key Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman.
Five Point Summary:
1. GLaDOS! Kind of.
2. Oh look, another shot of a Jaeger being dropped into the water…
3. Ron Perlman!
4. Obligatory rousing speech #4.
5. Is there anything more satisfying than seeing a giant mech hit a giant creature with a boat?
It’s great when you see a film that knows its whole reason for existing is to provide big dumb fun. Pacific Rim is one such film, a terrifying indication of what would happen if you made Godzilla fight the Transformers. I say terrifying, more like “Hah! That’s never going to happen!” Guillermo del Toro, Mexican movie auteur and the biggest, beardiest man-child you will ever see, brings his excessively OTT imagination to this original(ish) story where big giant creatures go toe to toe with big giant robots. Of course, after it’s established that the world’s governments united to form the Jaeger programme, we join the story as those same governments decide to put more faith in a MASSIVE wall rather than the epic robots that have been protecting the globe from giant monsters, called Kaiju, who are attacking humanity at every opportunity via a strange rift that has opened up in the Pacific Ocean. There are just four Jaegers left, and with funds running low it’s looking grim for humanity. Those four Jaegers are unique enough in their designs to tell apart, although early on the action does suffer quite badly from not being able to tell which Jaeger is hitting which Kaiju.
There are plenty of humorous moments dotted throughout which are conveniently placed to break up the action and to prevent things from getting too mundane. Not that you could ever accuse Pacific Rim of being mundane. Well, except for the excessive number of times we see a Jaeger dropped into the Pacific. After it happens a few times it starts to feel gratuitous. As a narrative device I rather like the idea of needing two people to pilot the Jaegers. In reality it’s as daft as the rest of it (let alone the character names – Stacker Pentecost? Really?), but certainly as far as narrative goes the joining of two minds via “The Drift” has the potential to branch off in many directions.
Unusually, almost all of the key cast, of which there are about 8, get an equal amount of time in the spotlight. Yes, the lead is Charlie Hunnam, but he is just one cog in a story that is about humanity uniting against a common threat. They’re all also uniformly underdeveloped, but again as we’re here to see big robots hitting big creatures then it’s another area in which you can forgive it. We get the obligatory crazy scientist stereotypes as they try to figure out how to stop the attacks (is nobody else working on that problem other than these two guys?), yet they err just on the right side of irritating. One degree further up the scale and you’d want to smash their faces in.
I take some comfort that, seeing as the vortex wormhole thing is situated in the Pacific and just about all of the damage occurs to those countries that sit around the Pacific Ocean, the UK was probably safe. Apocalypse be damned. Yes, I understand that economically speaking the incident would be crippling from an economic perspective, but I expect the UK to be in some form of 1984/V For Vendetta/Children of Men style state whereby the borders are closed and they’ve become self sufficient.
For someone with as vivid an imagination as del Toro, you’d expect the production design to be immaculate, and it is. There’s an incredible amount of detail to the world in which the film is set, and the night shots of Tokyo are gorgeous to look at. It’s worth seeing in IMAX if you get the chance, it’s the sort of big, epic film that benefits from the big screen.
Gripes – the main one I had was that they had to cram in a love story between Channing T…. sorry, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi. Completely unnecessary and adds nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Yes, by all means throw them together for narrative purposes, but you don’t have to build a romance out of it. You may have guessed by now, but I don’t like films where they crowbar in a romance story just because they feel it necessary. In some instances it works, but arbitrarily throwing characters together for the sake of appealing to a wider audience is not clever storytelling. There’s also the fact that most of the action takes place at night. Whilst the cities used look really nice lit up in the dark, it does make the Kaiju/Jaeger action a little harder to follow. Also, stay after the credits if you’re interested in 20 second clips. It’s a nice addition but I don’t think it’s worth sitting through the credits for.
Compared to his previous films which have had a lot more heart and soul to them, Pacific Rim is a bit of an oddity, however as a ridiculous big budget summer popcorn flick that is in essence a live action anime, then you won’t get much better.
Favourite scene: A giant mech hitting a giant creature with a boat. Never gets boring.
Quote: “Today, at the end of our hope, the end of our time, we have chosen to believe in each other. Today we face the monsters that are at our door. Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”
Silly Moment: A Kaiju lifting a Jaeger up into the sky… and then the Jaeger pulls out a freakin’ SWORD.