Staring: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Pacific Rim is set in the relatively near future where a wormhole to another world has opened deep in the Pacific ocean. This wormhole is essentially a bridge that allows massive creatures known as Kaiju, to enter and accordingly destroy our world. Progressively, the monsters that attack, get bigger with each one that comes through. Humanity, devastated and crushed, pool together what resources are left to make equally massive robots, Jaegers, that are basically neurologically connected to their pilots. These pilots must be “drift compatible”, meaning they have to be able to bond mentally. The pilots are typically but don’t have to be, related. Ultimately humanity does triumph over the monsters.
I like me some monster versus robot action!
I went into this not really knowing what the plot was all about but knew it had some big robots in it. At first I thought it would be a kind of robot versus robot deal, like Real Steel, but alas I was wrong. Guillermo del Toro is a fantastic director and has directed some really great movies such as Hellboy, Blade II and Pan’s Labyrinth. I have really enjoyed what Guillermo has done in the past so naturally I figured this would be loaded with sci-fi robot destruction. My problem with this movie is that I want to like it, I really do want to like it. There are quite a number of issues with this movie that I’m trying really hard to overlook.
First let’s discuss the plot. The story is simple, monsters invade the earth from the Pacific ocean and humanity makes gigantic robots to fight them. That’s the movie in one sentence. The human part of this movie is really focused on Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who begins the movie as one half of a brother team who operates effectively as kick ass robot pilots. But then a Kaiju attacks and kills Raleigh’s brother. Raleigh gets out of the Kaiju killing business and goes into construction, clearly not a promotion. Pentecost (Idris Elba), Raleigh’s former boss, recruits him to kill enormous monsters again. Eventually he gets paired up with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who he does some really great “drifting” with. Not that drifting!!! I won’t give away the end, but the humans win.
VoltronNext I want to discuss the robots, basically it’s like Voltron or perhaps better, Gundam. The early versions of the robots are nuclear powered, loaded with badassery and general kick quite a bit of ass. As the Kaiju progressively get stronger with each one that is sent to attack, the robots obviously need to evolve and get more powerful. The imagery of the robots is pretty simply, they’re robots. The two pilots create a mental link known as the “drift”. That mental link then controls the robots like virtual reality; move your arm, robot arm moves. The science behind the massive robots is conceptually pretty impressive and to some degrees exists today, but not quite on that level. Additionally, as these herculean machines have to be extremely powerful because in many scenes, they are knee deep in the ocean and running through it as if it were nothing.
That leads me to my next point, the Kaiju monsters. They are all slightly different from one another yet all kind of look the same because coincidentally they are almost only ever shown at night, in the ocean, while it’s raining, surrounded by water and spray and mist and explosions. With this cocktail of camouflage, it’s incredibly difficult to actually see clearly what they look like and that in all honesty is a massive monster turn off. It’s like always looking at someone through frosted glass, sure, you can see that person but not very clearly. Drop the veil Guillermo, show the monsters during the day!
All in all, I gave Pacific Rim a solid 3 stars because despite it’s moderately irritating imperfections, I did actually enjoy it. I liked watching Raleigh go from champion Jaeger operator to defeated construction worker to a world saving hero. The monsters are no Godzilla, the robots are no Megalon, but they are a far more modern science fiction fantasy that most people, especially guys, will enjoy.