Friday, July 12, 2013

A Reel Review: PACIFIC RIM

The concept of giant monsters stomping around our cities has been capturing the imaginations of kids for decades; starting with KING KONG in 1933, peaking with the atomic-era, Japanese-produced GODZILLA films, and then later trailing off on the small-screen. Director Guillermo Del Toro, who has thus made a career out of monster flicks, capitalizes on those old elements in PACIFIC RIM, but whether or not giant monsters battling it out with equally-sized robots is enough for a good movie is the question.
A dimensional portal opens underneath the ocean, unleashing legions of giant monsters, called Kaiju, upon the world. Unable to fight them using conventional weapons, mankind invents equally-sized robots, called Jaegers, to combat them hand-to-hand. The Jaegers are controlled simultaneously by two pilots, whose minds are locked in a neural bridge, forming the left and right sides of the robot’s “brain”. With a large-scale invasion imminent, former Jaeger pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) is called out of his self-exile to help fend off the attack and save mankind.

PACIFIC RIM starts off in a hurry; quickly establishing its universe with the who-what-when-where-why-and the how. The details are superbly done and it doesn’t take long before you find your imagination soaring. Once the stage is set and the characters come in, PACIFIC RIM settles into very familiar territory; so familiar that it nearly becomes clich├ęd. The characters face inner demons and obstacles similar to countless war-film and sports-flicks…and the plot, like its characters, never really ventures past the first dimension.
The thin characters and story are not nearly enough to sink the RIM, however. Del Toro keeps the pacing brisk, the humor well-timed, and the spectacle on a large and exciting scale. The battles between the ‘bots and the creatures are a sight to behold on the big screen; visually and especially sonically. The fights are well-filmed; it is always easy to tell what is going on and each one has its own surprises. It’s edge-of-your-seat action; the type of stuff that makes imaginations tick. The creature and ‘bot design is exquisite, and Del Toro makes excellent use out of every element that he establishes early on.

Acting is a bit of a mixed bag. No one is horrible, but no one really stands out, either. Charlie Hunnam does fine for what he is given to work with, as does his eventual co-pilot, played by Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi. Idris Elba chews up the scenery as the big boss-man, and the comic relief is played brilliantly by Ron Perlman (a war profiteer specializing in dead creature body-parts), and most especially Charlie Day, as the quirky yet all-important scientist.
PACIFIC RIM borrows from several familiar stories and films of the past, almost too directly, and the characters seem to overcome their issues off-camera. It nearly doesn’t matter, because by the time the climactic battle rolls around, there is just too much fun being had as this is the type of film which makes you wish you could live in its world, driving the vehicles and joining the fight. PACIFIC RIM may be 90% spectacle and 10% story, but sometimes you have to let the inner-kid win.


1 comment:

  1. You bundle Terminator, Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Iron man, Transformers, Battleship and other sci fi movies into one get Pacific Rim....ok that might be hyperbole but the movie is it in IMAX 3D if you will enjoy every moment of it...


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