Review Date: 02/11/2014
Rating: 3/5 Peanuts.
In a Nutshell:
Though somewhat lacking in substance, this highly stylized action flick is packed full of enough sci-fi awesome sauce to turn you back into your giddy inner ten year old self.
It’s actually really difficult for me to review a film like Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim for the simple fact that it’s all over the map. The acting ranges from the Idris Elba’s fantastic turn as grizzled old war hero Stacker Pentecost (an amazing name by-the-by) to Burn Gorman’s utterly atrocious turn as the bumbling, stuttering Dr. Hermann Gottlieb. Indeed, Charlie Hunnam who leads the cast as the soulful wounded warrior Raleigh Becket, co-pilot of the main war machine known as “Gypsy Danger” (perhaps the most amazing name in a movie full of them) falls squarely in the middle of the pack, ably injecting a depth of pain and loss buried beneath layers of confidence born from experience. However, what he gives you in emotional intelligence he takes right back in the consistency of his accent in his portrayal as an experienced ex-pilot brought back into the war effort against the relentless onslaught of giant Godzilla-styled monsters called “Kaiju” (Literally Japanese for “great beast”). Together with his new partner Mako Mori, played by the at times unintelligible Rinko Kikuchi, Raleigh must pilot their Jaeger (basically a giant Power-Rangers styled megazord) in the battle to protect humanity from an alien race bent on… terraforming?
In reading more about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the film, it does seem that a fair bit of thought went into the film’s plot and the overall message of unity, cooperation and the resilience of the human spirit, but much seems to have been lost in translation from page to screen.
That said, at the end of the day the plot, no matter how thin, serves merely as an excuse to get a giant robot to punch a giant monster in the face a bunch of times in the streets of some anonymous city (in this case mostly an unrecognizable Hong Kong). And you know what? I’m 100% ok with that. The film’s visual effects are beautifully hyper-realistic and it packs enough action to keep the 132 minute running time from ever really dragging. Most importantly, at the end of the day the film never forgets what it is: pure popcorn blockbuster fun. That it did so poorly in the United States is a crime, especially considering that it opened against train wrecks like Grown Ups 2, R.I.P.D. and Disney’s Lone Ranger (see what I did there... "trainwrecks"?).