Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Pacific Rim’s unwillingness to linger on explanations works beautifully. Before you know it, you’ve been thrown directly into the front-line of a world where robots battling monsters has become a way of life. The opening clearly and succinctly establishes a future in which mankind has created giant robots named Jaegers to go head to head against the Kaiju, colossal monsters that have entered our world via an inter-dimensional rift on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s ambitious stuff, and it is great to see a giant blockbuster with an original story for once. Director Guillermo del Toro and writer Travis Beacham have crafted an epic blockbuster that isn’t a game-changer, but it does exactly what you expect it to do. It’s entertaining and it delivers some impressive larger-than-life action.
The key to these type of grandiose pictures is the audience’s willingness to accept and believe the fantastical elements as fact. Luckily, the film speeds along at a great pace and the overall design is convincing enough that it all feels plausible.
This is especially the case with the film’s explanation of the way the Jaegers are piloted. The overall idea is that two pilots, stationed in the head of this giant machine, take care of one hemisphere each: the left and the right, much like a human brain works. In order for the two pilots to be perfectly in sync with one another, their respective brains need to meld together – so to speak. It’s an interesting concept that gives the film ample room to explore the emotional ramifications of being able to share the thoughts and memories of another person. And it also ties in with the film’s key theme of humanity joining forces to take control of an extreme problem.
Now, let’s focus on this said “problem”. The Kaiju are absolutely huge, terrifying beasts that are beautifully realized, and they look simply awesome on the big screen. The creatures are various enough to ensure they don’t ever get boring or repetitive. Every time you think, “Wow. That one is massive!”, BOOM! A new one comes along and shuts you right up.
As you can expect, the special effects are fantastic. The giant fisticuffs on display are definitely entertaining and surprisingly brutal. Limbs and innards are ripped out from both robot and creature. Annoyingly, these epic-scale fights do get a little repetitive. There are only so many unique ways you can see a giant robot punch a monster. And would it hurt to have some of these battles play out in the daylight? There are moments were you can see parts of these monsters and robots in sunlight, but the majority of these battles take place at night, making it harder to appreciate the details. Towards the end there was a battle that I was sure was going to happen in daylight, but no – not at all.
Comparisons with Transformers are inevitable. Michael Bay’s massive action sequences are considered by many to be overblown and too confusing to clearly follow. The rampages here are much easier to keep track of. Del Toro makes sure that he gives you some wide shots, but I wanted more – especially with the aforementioned darkness that envelops the action.
The cast performs well, ensuring that the world and its mechanisms are convincing. As the lead character, Raleigh Becket, Charlie Hunnam (from TV’s Sons of Anarchy) is good, but his character is probably the most underwritten of the lot. Idris Elba is the stand-out of the cast. His Stacker Pentecost is a perfect combination of tough-guy antics and caring father figure. Rinko Kikuchi is quite good as Mako Mori, a young woman who has a strong reason to pilot a Jaeger. Unfortunately, Mako and Raleigh’s love-story never really convinces and ultimately fizzles out.
The story may be mostly entertaining, but the predictability gets quite annoying. All plot strands give irritatingly obvious signs pointing to their conclusions. Almost straight away you’ll be saying, “That guy’s going to die. They’ll fall in love. That won’t work. That will.” Also, there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments that stick out like sore-thumbs amongst the film’s other great factors.
Overall, Pacific Rim ticks off most of the boxes for a decent blockbuster. The special-effects are impressive, the battles are exciting and the pacing is relentless. There are a number of issues that detract from the overall experience, but this is an exciting – even exhausting – sci-fi flick that succeeds in giving enough bang for the cinema-goer buck.
THE REEL SCORE: 7/10