Pacific Rim ***1/2
One Liner Review:
A very cool movie, the story might not be anything special, but the action, effects, and ideas are all fantastic.
A really cool movie by the director who is the perfect guy to do it. guillermo del toro, the master of creature features, has got his biggest budget to date and he does not disappoint. the monsters are all terrific looking and grotesque in all different ways. del toro could have gone for some more variation on the robots, but creatures is his specialty and he sure does a great job with them. their are lots of cool ideas here about how things work, and i like that the movie even has a humorous subplot involving Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman. the main plot, about a young pilot who is trying to recover from losing his brother, feels a little cliched at times, but it doesn’t matter. the action is what counts here and this movie delivers it in spades.
Pacific Rim is exactly what one goes into it hoping for. it is a Guillermo Del Toro movie and it’s about giant monsters, and those two things together are a perfect combination. Del Torro is the guy who is number one when it comes to weird creatures and monster movies. His Pan’s Labyrinth was a masterpiece. He also had success combining monsters with superheroes in both the Hellboy movies and Blade 2, (the best of the Blade films.) And Del Torro also made Mimic, a creepy as hell, giant bugs in the sewer system movie. So with all that under his belt, this guy was primed up and ready to take on a movie with a big budget. Everything before this was practice.
Like all of Del Toro’s movies, this film is better the more times you see it. The first time most people saw Mimic, they probably hated it. Giant bugs in the sewer just came across as gross. And Blade 2 and Hellboy probably both seemed pretty average on a first viewing. But watching them again, the artistic elements and attention to detail really come out. Suddenly it becomes very apparent that this is not a guy who takes things for granted. Del Toro is an artist and a master craftsman, and it’s as much about the ideas and their function as it is about the visual element.
The essential premise of the whole thing is that giant monsters, called Kaiju (the Japanese word for giant monsters, stemming from such creature features as Godzilla), have risen up out of the sea. They are destroying cities and killing tons of people, and so humans invented giant robot machines to fight these monsters off. all of it is visually stunning.
When the film starts, the monsters have already started attacking and the people have already invented the giant robots (called jaigers, after a german word for giant machines), the robots have already started attacking the monsters. this is a very fresh move of the screenwriters to not begin the movie with the first attack and the surprise element on people’s faces when a monster comes out of the sea. that’s the usual way of starting a movie like this, and pacific rim wants to be different. instead, it is about the aftermath of the attacks. no wasting time getting things started.
the movie opens with the voice over of raleigh beckett (charlie hunNam), telling us about everything that has happened. he explains the monster attacks and how the people thought maybe the worst was over. then the monsters kept reappearing and attacking, and people realized that they had to do something about the problem. so they invented jaigers. now, it might have been cool to see or hear the scene where people first invent jaigers and testing them out and all that (like iron man testing out his suit, using trial and error), but the movie loses nothing by skipping over these parts and getting right to the action.
the monsters are what make this movie cool, and each one is different. there is a shark monster, a lobster monster, and a whole bunch that look like dragons or giant lizards. i love the scenes of characters discussing them, such as when one guy notices a tatoo on another guy and is able to telle exactly which monster it is, by name.
most of the action scenes take place at night, and normally that would be a problem because of it being difficult to see the details, but this movie handles that well. it has the monsters all glow in their mouths and also the parts of their bodies that are cut. these guys ooze blood and that blood is so bright and lit up that it actually lights everything else up as well. i would have liked to see a monster scene during the day, but del toro combatted the problem nicely by lighting each scene up so that it didn’t really matter.
the parts of the movie that are about the people, tend to be the weakest elements. raleigh has retired from operating them, ever since his brother died, and now stacker pentecost (idris elba), comes to see him and get him back in the saddle. pentecost makes a good point, asking raleigh if he would rather die not doing anything, or die in a jaiger. so raleigh gets back into it, and now there’s a whole big thing about choosing his partner.
luckily the movie has another story going on besides raleighs. that is the story of charlie day (from always sunny in philadelphia), playing a wacky scientist who is as funny as charlie day always is. this guy is going for laughs as much as he is just being is crazy, high-pitched, shouting, frustrated self. he argues with his partner / nemesis scientist, and has the idea to go inside the brain of the monsters. his storyline is the best one of the film, and it brings him to the underworld where he meets a black market monster body parts dealer played by ron perlman.
aside from charlie day, there isn’t much humor, but there is sure a lot of action. the movie shows us exactly where the pilots are positioned in the robot, standing inside it’s helmet and even takes us inside that helmet with the characters, over and over again. there are so many cool ideas here, like the neurolaptic bridge that connects the two pilots together mentally so that they can see each others thoughts. and the attacks are also very carefully orchestrated. these creatures smash through buildings and we often get to see the inside of those buildings while it’s happening. we see creature jump out of the water and jump through buildings, and it’s all unexpected, when we don’t know the creature is nearby. the problems with the movie are minimal. more scenes during the day. more about people’s fascination with the creatures. maybe a scene of kids playing with trading cards of them and arguing about which creature is the coolest. still, you go to see this movie for the action and it definitely gets that part completely right.