Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pacific Rim

directed by Guillermo del Toro
starring Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, and Idris Elba
Legendary Pictures, July 4, 2013, 132 minutes
Rated PG-13

As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

Giant robots piloted by human beings beating the snot out of gigantic monsters coming up from the bottom of the ocean.

What’s not to like?!

Seriously?

If you go into this expecting something deep and meaningful and fraught with symbolism and metaphor, then you will be disappointed. This is motherfucking giant robots kicking the asses of motherfucking giant monsters. C’MON!

However, that does not mean that Pacific Rim is some mindless summer popcorn romp. This is a Guillermo del Toro film, after all, and that means that behind all the flash and amazing special effects amazing jaegers and super cool kaiju, there is in fact a story … and a pretty damn good one. Del Toro is a consummate storyteller (have you seen Pan’s Labyrinth or Cronos?) and the story here is one of human beings and their struggle to come to grips with a world that has changed beneath their feet (in that, it is much like The Walking Dead). This human element (to trot out the old clichĂ©) is really the heart of Pacific Rim and it is what keeps the audience engaged between scenes of giant robots beating the shit out of giant monsters. This is not to say that the story is perfect. It would not pass the Bechdel Test by any stretch of the imagination (I think there are two women in the entire film and only one of them has any lines) and the action is mostly a testosterone-fueled male pre-adolescent wet dream, but at the very least Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) can hold her own in a world of men (even if she is strangely subservient to her adopted father Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) (and seriously, how great is that name? Stacker fucking Pentecost!)). I liked that she was intelligent, kick ass in her own right, and not overtly sexualized eye candy (I’m looking at you Alice Eve as Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness). Though, I could have done without the cutesy budding romance between Mako and Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and the unnecessary James Bond-esque kissing on a raft ending.

All this aside, though, Pacific Rim is a great way to spend two hours. These are not complaints I had in the viewing moment, but have since come up in reflection. The kaiju in particular are stunning and unlike anything else I have ever seen on the screen. There is also some seriously great comedic performances delivered by kaiju researchers Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Ron Perlman’s black market dealer Hannibal Chau steals every scene he is in. I also highly enjoyed Max Martini’s turn as grizzled jaeger pilot Herc Hansen (SERIOUSLY!? How great are the names in this film?! Stacker Pentecost! Hannibal Chau!! Herc Hansen!!!) It was also nice to see major population centers other than New York City, London and Paris getting destroyed. Seeing such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney’s iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge and Seattle’s Space Needle getting trashed was rather refreshing, so to speak.

There are some flaws, but all things considered, I can think of worse ways to spend two hours, and if you’re going to shell out for theater tickets, it might as well be for something worth the price of admission, and Pacific Rim certainly delivers.

Official Trailer
Pacific Rim at IMDb

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