Review: Pacific Rim
In the near future, a rift in the Pacific Ocean opens a portal through which 250-feet monsters enter. To battle these killer goliaths, the nations of the world create 250-foot robots. Obviously.
Some lesser known actors, not the kind that would ever helm summer movies, take the lead. Charlie Day and Ron Perlman also feature, and they are both absurdly ridiculous and entertaining.
Amid a summer filled with movies boasting and then failing to be something far more innovative (After Earth, The Purge), something far darker (Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man), or something far more emotionally-charged (Man of Steel) than they really are, there is at least one film that is straight-up honest.
With Pacific Rim, you are promised nothing more than giant monsters fighting giant robots, and boy do you ever get it!
This Guillermo del Toro project, one filled with mostly little known actors and a couple familiar faces in scene-chewing roles, is a gorgeous special effects bonanza. It doesn’t seem though that in its promotional campaign, in discussions by the director, and surely not at any point during the film, that Pacific Rim tries to be anything but monsters fighting robots.
Sure, there is a story about two very different people overcoming their past and looking to prove themselves. We find some cavalier soldiers, we meet a strict, no-nonsense General, and we get to spend time with some wacky scientists. If all the money of the film was spent on creating some stunning visuals, scrapping writing and acting, then it was well worth it.
Better have it all one way than halfway between others. That is, if you are going to adapt a video game into a summer film, why would you not deliver the one thing that the limited audience for the film really wants.
So, in spite of an incredibly formulaic plot, in spite of the over-the-top nature of Day and Perlman (both awesome), in spite of the trite conversations between everyone else, and in spite of the exhausting leveling of yet another major world city this summer – its cartoonish nature makes this occurrence less jarring – Pacific Rim isn’t that bad!
The monsters show up early and often, as do the robots. A five-minute introductory voice-over details the emergence of these behemoths from the depths of the Pacific, their subsequent rampage, and the world’s response in making robots. These mechanical saviors need two people, not just one, to pilot them (because if it was one, that would leave out so many plot contrivances), and while they protect the world for a few years, the monsters become bigger and smarter.
Fighting in the middle of the ocean and the shores of Hong Kong, either in the rain or at night, Pacific Rim is a visual feast. It is remarkable how crisp, how clean, and how disciplined the fight sequences are, and left to just about any other filmmaker, the movie could be unwatchable. An outrageous finale that continues the battle escalation (the first battle is one robot vs. one monster, so you can imagine how that grows), takes places at the depths of the ocean and is incredible to watch.
Del Toro throws in some light humor, especially when it comes to the kooky scientists bickering back and forth, and whenever Perlman (del Toro’s Hellboy), finds his way on screen. For the amount that the film will dull your mind and bore you with dialogue, it will entertain you with a cinematic force that is the best of the summer. It elicits both unintentional laughs, and uncontrollable gasps.
Should You See It?
There is but one reason to watch this film. Don’t fool yourself that this will be smart, but it sure is entertaining.
“This isn’t a shelter,” screams Charlie Day’s character, freaking out as a monster approaches. “This is a buffet!” He makes it work.