Pacific Rim (2013)
Although it may ask the viewer to acquiesce a fair amount of inconsistencies and genre cliches. “Pacific Rim” ultimately rewards its audience with jaw-dropping visuals, bone-shattering action, and evoking genuine childlike wonder. It is somewhat of a let down that we are treated to only a small taste of what makes Guillermo Del Toro the revered visionary he is today. Nonetheless, without the aforementioned creator working behind the scenes. “Pacific Rim” would have undoubtedly fallen victim to the bombastic, over-driven destruction that has plagued and doomed countless others in the genre. While I didn’t expect the catchy slogan ”Go big or go extinct” to be the film’s structural criteria. Luckily for Del Toro and crew, you can’t get much bigger than 250 foot robot assassins piloted by humans duking it out with genetically-engineered alien war-machines in an intergalactic battle. Powered by Del Toro’s youthful inspiration and wide-eyed ambition, “Pacific Rim” is literally a summer smash.
In the near future, extraterrestrials dubbed “Kaiju” enter through a portal in a crevasse deep beneath the Pacific Ocean and begin destroying Earth’s major cities. To combat these monsters, humans create massive weapons known as “Jaegers” which are humanoid fighting machines that stand roughly 250 feet tall. These “Jaegers” are controlled by two pilots simultaneously through a neural link that allows each co-pilot access to inner thoughts, memories, and reactions. Soon, the human race begin to take the upper-hand, but are quickly knocked back down by bigger, more complex “Kaiju” and must find a way to close the portal between worlds.
Similar to J.J Abrams “Super 8,” Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” was conceived upon childhood nostalgia and a yearning to rebirth the creature feature. Having rekindled a long-dormant fascination with classical foreign monster films. Del Toro and crew set out to instill that feeling of childish giddiness into a generation who’ve been rotted with endless pedestrian and vapid blockbusters. And as far as big-budget action-thrillers go, you’ll find none better than “Pacific Rim.” Establishing new heroes with timeless qualities that get the job done or die trying, a slew of immense, godly fighting robots equipped with inventive, resourceful weapons, and a plethora of monstrous, grotesque extraterrestrials. It might be a tad predictable, even stereotypical. Yet, ”Pacific Rim” is a breath of fresh, rejuvenating air into a faltering genre that was failing to inspire and bewilder.
It’s easy to see that in any other filmmakers hands, at least a majority of them, “Pacific Rim” would have faced a rather swift extinction so to speak. That being said, it would have been nice to see Del Toro infuse a bit more of what makes his previous releases so compelling. While there are tiny bits of his repertoire sprinkled throughout “Pacific Rim’s” rather modest (roughly) two-hour runtime (only when stacked up against the films scale). One can’t help but feel that it lacked his ambience and atmosphere, the unwavering human element. Undoubtedly, we are subjected to the brilliant diversity and growth of Del Toro as a filmmaker and it is astounding to say the least. I just can’t help but conclude that “Pacific Rim” would have been infinitely better if Del Toro took an extra half-hour, added his usual artistic detail and firmly grounded this flick. However, it’s still one hell of a ride.
Now, inevitably, more than a few will draw comparisons between “Pacific Rim” and the “Transformers” franchise, amongst other big-budget action blunders. But don’t mistake my clamouring for typical Del Toro as a sign of skeletal, visual, and sympathetic weakness. It’s actually quite the opposite. What sets “Pacific Rim” apart from these brain-dead blockbusters is its strength in the aforementioned categories. I’m simply stating that Del Toro could have done it better, it’s still phenomenal in every sense of the word. The visuals are stunning, Oscar worthy and the story’s progressive form, formidable characters, and connectivity is sturdy enough to stand on its own. “Pacific Rim” is essentially pleasing to all cinematic senses. If you find yourself unable to enjoy it, odds are your inner-child suffocated under your pretentiousness a while ago.
As for the film itself, you’ll find no shortage of witty humour, deceptively charismatic and humanized characters, and of course gargantuan battle weapons built by two rival races deconstructing one another using any means necessary. Still, what makes “Pacific Rim” so utterly admirable and atypical is its ability to separate from what is slowly becoming a modern convention. Amongst the abundance of comic book films that depict superheroes struggling with their own mortality and moral obligation. “Pacific Rim” reinstates the solidified, courageous, head-held-high heroes who live and feed off of the battle, albeit somewhat cockily. Not to mention, Del Toro and crew make excellent use of the underdog premise and play it out flawlessly. However, most importantly, “Pacific Rim” portrays belief in humanity, something cinema has gotten away from.
Now, not just anyone can control these immense Jaegers or understand the Kaiju and that’s why “Pacific Rim” has such a diverse, talented, and somewhat obscure cast. Starring Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, and Rinko Kikuchi, this crew of tenacious, at times ruthless individuals is not to be trifled with.
Out of everyone cast in this film, Charlie Day struck me as an odd, risky choice. Having only seen the actor in various comedies, a high-profile role in a serious action-flick seemed like the last place he’d be effective. Well, I was wrong. He does a fantastic job providing some much-needed comic relief and even surprised me with his capabilities a few times. Idris Elba is as intimidating as ever and continues to be one of the most underrated actors currently in cinema. Adding his usual style, suave, and dramatic flare to a rather limiting role. Ron Perlman, although sparsely used, still manages to steal every scene he’s in and he’s as hypnotic as ever. Carlie Hunnam definitely stole the show, for me anyway, and that’s due in large part to his chemistry with Rinko Kikuchi. The two really know how to give and take, while remaining independent enough to stand-out on their own.
One of the most decedent pieces of eye-candy I’ve ever witnessed, “Pacific Rim” is exactly what you thought it’d be…loads of fun.
Pacific Rim: 8 out of 10.