Giant robots fight giant monsters for the fate of the world in the latest offering from Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”). Featuring incredible special effects, a fantastic premise, and fun, colorful (albeit goofy) characters, “Pacific Rim” is a summer spectacular well worth catching on the big screen.
In the not so distant future, giant monsters known as Kaijus have begun to attack coastal cities, emerging through an inter-dimensional rift in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean known as “the breach”. In order to combat these hostile leviathans, the nations of the world have developed gigantic, lumbering, fighting robots called Jaegers. These robotic titans are controlled through a neural connection with the human pilots (two pilots are needed, as the strain would be too much for a single person). This requires an enormous amount of compatibility between pilots, however, as the linking of their minds in order to operate the robots requires that they completely share their memories, thoughts, feelings etc.
At a critical juncture in the war against the Kaijus, however, the Jaeger program is suspended in favor of building unbreachable walls along the shores of Pacific Ocean countries. The Jaegers that remain will be stationed near the breach and allowed to fight out the rest of their days, but no new Jaegers will be built. This turns out to be a disastrous decision, as the first Kaiju that confronts the wall bursts through it quite easily. Now the Jaegers are all that are left between civilization and the Kaiju onslaught. To make matters worse, the monsters are coming through the breach with accelerating frequency, and they’re coming through bigger and stronger than ever.
Will these robot warriors be able to stop the enormous monsters that threaten Earth?
“Pacific Rim” features a fantastic high concept. Enormous robots battling enormous monsters is the kind of geek catnip that I wish we got more often. Seeing the gigantic combatants throwing massive blows at each other, creating tidal wave sized splashes in the ocean and busting through buildings as if they were nothing really brought out the kid in me (not that that’s hard to do). I felt as though I was watching an old-school Godzilla throwdown with modern special effects. The fights were gorgeously rendered, brightly colored, and well choreographed. Along the way, there are plenty of instances which will bring out the “Hell Yeah”s as well.
The movie was weaker when the fighting wasn’t going on, but that’s not to say it was bad. Viewers will have to accept del Toro’s colorful, sketchy, comedic characters, that’s all. Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi play things straight as Jaeger pilots on the forefront of the action, and Idris Elba is truly inspirational as the leader of the Jaeger program (his “Cancellin’ the Apocalypse” speech deserves to find its place in pop culture history via meme, etc.) However, Charlie Day is a burnt out, shaky scientist, who’s partnered with an exaggerated eastern bloc stiff. They need the help of Ron Perlman’s flamboyant gangster/Kaiju black market kingpin. It’s these three that are going to test the audience’s acceptance… personally, I was fine with them, but I know the drill.
Regardless, the action scenes should be more than enough to earn the movie a favorable impression out of even the most difficult cynic. Going in, I was worried that the movie would have had too many fights and not enough stories, now I was there had been more. I couldn’t get enough of them.