Monsters vs. Robots, del Toro Style
A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS MAY OCCUR
This is what Transformers should have been. Guillermo del Toro is most well-known for Pan’s Labyrinth, one of the best films made. Ever. Yet what is less known about him is that he basically dabbles in everything. Pacific Rim is an ode to the Japanese kaiju mythology that spawned the original Godzilla and del Toro’s imagining of a kaiju conflict is probably the most action-packed excitement you will ever see. From the get-go, it’s breathtaking thrills that stop to breathe, but barely so. The weak link of the film are the characters themselves. The main three (Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi) work fine, but there is little complexity added to everyone else and they end up subverting themselves to stereotypes. The kaiju are diverse in their designs and the fight sequences are showcased in different environments and times of day, avoiding the feeling of constant repetition. del Toro has an absolute blast directing this film and unlike Michael Bay, slows down and makes it clear what is actually happening. Pacific Rim is an absolute blast and I had the great fortune of seeing the film in the motion D-Box seats and yes, that probably added several points to my score.
Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy does fine work as Raleigh Backet, and it’s odd he hasn’t been in more films. He’s quite good. Idris Elba gives the best performance as the rock hard with a soft heard Stacker Pentacost. It’s a cliched role but he does it so well, you forget the cliche. Also, how badass of a name is that? Stacker Pentacost? And it’s Idris Elba. So, you know, there’s that. Rinko Kikuchi does a fine job as Pentacost’s protege Mako Mori, and it’s nice to see her in a bug budget film after her phenomenal turn in Babel. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman provide the comic relief, but thankfully it’s restrained. It’s an apocalypse movie, people. No need to make it over-the-top hilarious.
The plot of Pacific Rim is really quite straightforward. A series of rifts open up in the oceans and massive creatures known as kaiju emerge from the rifts. Humans begin to create giant robots called jaegers to combat them. The jaegers with one pilot were too weak and thus the concept of “drift” was born. Two pilots’ memories would sync together and they would be combined into one massive killing machine. Raleigh and Mako become one and the final station at Hong Kong launches its last mighty offensive. That’s the plot and del Toro keeps it as complicated as it needs to be.
Technical aspects are where Pacific Rim shines the most. The visual effects in this film are absolutely mind-blowing (as they should be, with a reported budget of close to $200 million). The kaiju and the jaegers are some of the most visually impressive things I have ever seen and when they clash in the water, in the air, on ground, over bridges, it is a breathtaking sight to behold. The color palette does get a bit muddled in 3-D, so avoid the 3-D unless you’re going to a theater with a good reputation for the ultra dimensional showings.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim is great thrill, even if it is not necessarily a great film. But it’s a solid foundation with a decent script, great effects, good acting, and a solid ending marred by some really odd marketing. It doesn’t have a brand name like Transformers and that is unfortunate because this is ultimately a far superior product than any of the (now stupidly) 4 Michael Bay films featuring fighting robots. I hope there is a Pacific Rim 2 as del Toro has stated that a kaiju and jaeger will merge in the sequel. Holy Lord, I want to see that.
Title: Pacific Rim
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Guillermo del Toro, Mary Parent
Screenplay: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
Story: Travis Beacham
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, Ron Perlman
Music: Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro
Editing: Peter Amundson, John Gilroy
Studios: Legendary Pictures
Distributers: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 131 minutes
Release Date: July 12th, 2013
Image Courtesy: T G Daily, Science Fiction, E! Online, You Tube, Apple Trailers