Pacific Rim Review
by Nick Casaletto
Monster movies are an iconic item in films from generations as early as the 1900s. Some of the most iconic characters in films have included Godzilla, King Kong, and most recently the Cloverfield monster. Now, we have director Guillermo del Toro at the helm of what he claims to be his passion project, Pacific Rim. Anyone who follows del Toro knows about his love for monster films as he has commented about it in multiple interviews. He has been looking for a way pay homage to the classic films he grew up on, as well as putting his own spin on it, as he is known to do with most of his work.
In Pacific Rim, aliens and monsters are attacking earth and looking to take over the planet. Our military has developed the “Jaeger program” which is essentially a giant, combat ready robot. The robots are controlled by two different minds and body’s and were created to attack and destroy the monsters that have invaded the world. The question now remains, how does Del Toro’s passion project hold up to the legendary monster movies of the past decades?
Well, first things first, if you’re looking for some badass Power Ranger’s Megazord style fighting, with modern day special effects then look no further! This film has all of that and more. The opening scene is this movie completely captivated me. We get the typical narration and backstory from our main hero Charlie Hunnam, as we are told how these monsters came about and how much destruction they have caused. Next, we get an opening battle sequence that is clean, clear, and very appealing to the eye. However, what we magnificently get in this opening scene is something that unfortunately lacks in the rest of the film, which is heart.
After the opening scene, I was ready for the thinking man’s version of a Transformers movie and as soon as the opening titles came on the screen, I was jazzed. However, what we get after the opening credits is not necessarily awful, however, just very formulaic. We are introduced to a slew of new characters, most of which we simply do not care for, or even know their names for that matter. Idris Elba plays Stacker Pentecost, a tough, ex pilot of a Jaeger robot. He calls the shots and everyone looks to him for answers in critical times. Elba did what he could with this character and his performance is fine as he even delivers some of the standout lines in the film. The problem is that you just don’t know enough about him to care about him. As an audience member, we are put in situations to really feel for him, but I just couldn’t. Basically the character development within the film was not executed as well as I would have liked it to be.
It also pains me to say this but the film falls into some unfortunate silly territory, mainly with the characters portrayed by Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Day plays Dr. Newton Geiszler, a scientist obsessed with the Kaiju. He has certain theories throughout the film, which are flat out brilliant and serve as very strong story points. Unfortunately, the script does not do much with them and just falls into the generic good guys fight bad guys’ story line for the vast majority of the film. Perlman plays Hannibal Chau (yes that really is his name in the film) a collector of Kaiju parts, who sells them for money because apparently monster body parts are worth a pretty penny. His character is completely over the top and while he has some alright moments, for the most part he is completely forgettable.
Now, I know most people going into this film aren’t looking for incredible acting or strong story structure. They want to see robots and monsters kick ass, and they do! The action is so well shot; everything is beautiful looking and crystal clear. No shaky camera, no crazy up close action, you can see everything. The battles in this movie definitely had some “WOW” moments, which made me smile and giggle like a little kid again. The problem I had was there was nothing at stake. Yes the fate of the whole world is in the hands of these few pilots, but we have seen this plot so many times before.
I guess I was just looking for something to separate this from the other big blockbuster films that we have gotten in recent years. It had great ideas, incredible action, and stunning imagery. I, however did not feel like anything was at stake, which in my opinion, hurt the film in the end. The characters were not really that likable and the ones you are supposed to like you don’t know enough about to even remotely care about. I do say you should definitely see this on the big screen as the IMAX sound is astounding and it’s always good to have a fun theater experience with some friends. It may seem like I disliked the film, but honestly, I did not. I just expected a little more from Del Toro. It is, however, nice to see a film that is not a reboot, remake, sequel, or comic book adaptation. So my advice to you when walking into the theater turn your brain off and sit back and watch monsters punch monsters in the face!
Final Grade: B