Pacific Rim Review
by Delon Villanueva
Pacific Rim was my most anticipated movie of the summer because, well, what’s there not to get excited about? It’s a mega-budget action blockbuster from visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, famously known for directing the Hellboy films and the critically acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth. Calling Pacific Rim simply del Toro’s “passion project” doesn’t really cut it. The movie intends to be a tribute to childhood wonder and the classic monster movies that inspired del Toro as a filmmaker. In other words, it’s the ultimate fanboy movie, which leaves the question: what does the general audience get out of it?
In this modern cinema age, we don’t get many original blockbusters anymore, as they’re considered big risks. Today’s audiences typically flock to sequels and adaptations of famous properties. Original stories with expensive budgets are now considered to be dangerous financially, and even sometimes critically. This makes Pacific Rim one of the riskiest major studio films in recent memory. Though with the incredible direction by del Toro, this movie is in perfect hands. Aside from some important but passable flaws, Pacific Rim is how a modern summer blockbuster should be done.
The premise of the film sounds like it’s straight out of the intro of a Cartoon Network program. Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean lies a collection of gigantic beasts called the Kaiju, wreaking havoc on the world. To stop these deadly monsters, we created a match against them: enormous, two man piloted robots called Jaegers. The movie takes place when the Kaiju have gotten stronger, and the Jaegers have been labeled as incapable of defending the people of Earth from them.
Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) is a Jaeger pilot severely effected by this, considering he lost his brother while they were fighting a Kaiju together. Though when he realizes the world is in complete danger, he must choose to fight again. At this point, the Jaeger program is working its way back to the top, as enforced by its commander, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). There’s also a great collective of characters now involved in the Jaeger program, including Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Raleigh’s co-pilot who holds back a secret that initially makes Stacker prevent her from piloting. Then there are the two scientists with conflicting personalities: the hardcore but goofy Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) and the typically stuck-up Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman).
I don’t think I need to spend much time discussing the acting, as they’re, at the very least, serviceable to a film that mostly depends on its special effects and its directing (but it should be noted that clear stand-outs are Elba, Day, and Ron Perlman as the hilarious Kaiju organ salesman Hannibal Chau). Though I should talk a bit about its story, and for an action blockbuster, it does what it needs to. Yes, the screenplay by Travis Beacham and del Toro himself is chockfull of clichés and is not exactly packed with surprises, but it’s admittedly done so. The two do this in honor of this classic story structure, as seen in older movies and even anime. The movie still can be often cheesy, but it’s never cringe worthy, and often times, it’s a blast to watch the campiness.
That’s because Guillermo del Toro knows exactly what kind of film he’s making. What modern blockbusters usually lack the most in is a connection to the characters, but in Pacific Rim, you definitely feel that there’s someone to root for. When we watch these epic fight scenes, it’s not just some big metal machine beating a monster. We always keep in mind that there are human beings in those robots that we can relate to. Also, because of del Toro’s directing, Pacific Rim is literally animated. At many points, the movie does feel like a live-action cartoon, from its colorful characters to its detailed set design.
Oh yeah, and about those action sequences. Simply put, they’re amazing. It’s pure adolescent bliss. If you remember what it was like to play with your toys when you were a kid, you were always willing to go the extra mile with them, as in, pretend they were capable of things they obviously weren’t of. Pacific Rim takes advantage of that idea. There are so many moments throughout this film that will leave you pumped in your seat as you watch a fight scene go places you’ve only dreamed it would. This movie loves to showcase how much del Toro is a kid at heart, which is something I wished was more expressed this summer.
Now, my only issues with the film are that the first act is a little bit rough to get into, and while although it’s still pretty cool, the last action sequence doesn’t fully reach the heights it sets up for itself. Though, it’s kind of unfair since it had to follow up the previous fight scene, which was probably the most awesome thing I’ve seen all summer. Overall, you should still definitely go see Pacific Rim. It’s a movie you could can proudly go into just for the spectacle and nothing more, because not only was it del Toro’s intention to solely make it a fun movie, but also it’s a fun movie done right.
RATING: 8.5/10. I came close to a 9, but I’ve been awfully generous as of late (maybe I’ll just get rid of my rating system, it’s tearing me apart). Still, you have to see this movie no matter what I say. Keep in mind that although it takes inspiration from many other things, it’s still an original film, and we don’t get a lot of those these days. The movie isn’t tracking to do very well this weekend, especially since it’s opening against a particular comedy sequel that will not be named, so do your part as a moviegoer and go see Pacific Rim this weekend. I want more original projects, don’t you?