Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Be sure to read Lisa’s less than glowing take on ‘Pacific Rim’ after you wade through this virtual love fest.

Ah, ‘Pacific Rim’… how long I’ve waited for thee.  The two or three people who regularly read this site know that I’m no fill snob.  I mean there are reviews for ‘Mansquito’ and ‘Sharknado’ on this site, and simply admitting you’ve seen those, let alone wrote semi-coherent prose about how one kind of liked those movies, pretty much eliminates one from film snob status, but I am a monster snob.  I take my movie monsters seriously, and can engage in geeky discourse with fellow monster snobs for hours.  Thus when we got word that director Guillermo del Toro, a fellow monster snob, was going Kaiju on us… we had to drop the microphone.  Boom, there it is.  A walk off home run.  The stench of Godzilla 1998 finally removed from our collective consciousness.  Well, we’ve seen ‘Pacific Rim’, and did we enjoy ‘Pacific Rim’?  Oh yeah, mightily so.  We just have to sneak back on stage and pick that microphone back up is all.  Not a home run, but a solid double that bounced off the left field wall.

As our narrator Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) will inform us, the alien invasion came from beneath the seas, not the skies.  A fissure opened at the bottom of our ocean, creating a portal to a world where giant monsters, named the Kaiju, would emerge and completely wreck cities, apparently for no particular reason other than these monsters are jerks.  While our conventional weapons did work, eventually, they were terribly inefficient and the monster attacks were growing more frequent. This spawned the Jaeger program, nuclear powered giant robots, piloted by two people of similar yoke to control the left and right hemispheres of these behemoths. 

There were no better Jaeger pilots than our narrator Raleigh and his brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff). A pair that could take a Kaiju down with the best of them… until that fateful day.

Now the years have passed, Raleigh is a wandering soul, the Kaiju attacks have come with more frequency as the monsters are bigger and nastier.  The Jaeger program

has proved incapable of keeping up with the monster menace and the world governments have determined that a big old illegal immigrant styled monster wall is the cure.  Uh… no.  So walls don’t work, the big robots don’t work that well, and it looks like our only option as a species is to die off.

Not so fast my friends!  Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) has a plan.  The chief of the failing Jaeger program still has a few Jaeger’s left and he thinks he just might be able to end this thing once and for all.  First thing he needs to do is track down his old Mark III pilot Raleigh, then he needs to find a co-pilot compatible with Raleigh’s brainwaves and fighting style.  There is this cute Japanese woman hanging about Robot Construction Central named Mako (Rinko Kikuichi) who seems to be the ideal candidate since she is rebuilding Raleigh’s old robot, has high test scores, she’s hell on the Bo Staff, and not to mention her and Raleigh’s natural chemistry together, but alas the Marshall won’t let her play because she has mental issues.  But who doesn’t, right?  That is until he has no choice but to let her play.

The monsters are coming, they’re getting bigger and meaner, and now we know they actually have a method to their madness.  This thing the Marshall wants to do… it has to happen and now.   What is this plan?  I’m sure you must know that it involves a nuke.  Come on now.   And those other Jaeger’s we mentioned… might not be as much help as we had originally planned.  Invariably the salvation of all of humanity will rest in the shaky hands of a damaged Japanese chick and a messed up American dude (played by a British dude), off the coast of Hong Kong.  Oddly enough… I like our chances.

There is an awful lot to like about ‘Pacific Rim’.  The robot / monster battles are just ridiculously awesome, the attention to detail of the worlds created by the creative mind of Guillermo del Toro are amazing to look at, the film moves at a pace quick enough so that the audience will never be bored or have a wandering mind, but not so fast that you can’t submerse yourself into the glorious images that you will be taking in.  This is almost the perfect summer blockbuster and I enjoyed ‘Pacific Rim’ more than all three of those three ‘Transformers’ movies combined, if we’re going to keep it on the giant robot vibe.  Though I gotta admit, the visual ‘Wow’ factor of that first ‘Transformers’ is still pretty high.

Here’s the thing though.  I just didn’t get the movie that I was hoping for, and quite honestly that’s on me, not the filmmakers.  There’s a scene in this film were five year old Mako (Mana Ashida), via flashback, is running through the streets of what I assume is Tokyo, with a crazed giant monster on her tail.  That scene, at least to me, was perfect.  That’s the movie I wanted to see.  So while the first five minutes of ‘Pacific Rim’ consisted of a quick primer on the appearance of the monsters, the birth of the Jaeger program, all of the rigmarole that went with being a rock star pilot to the eventual failure of the program and the potential extinction of man… The film that I would’ve preferred to have seen play out for the next two plus hours is that first five minutes.  And as I told a friend of mine, I’m also not much of a fan of monsters with agendas.  I like my monsters to wreck stuff simply because stuff is in their way.  We could also mention that almost all the actors in this movie, outside of Idris Elba’s character and his penchant for giving rousing speeches, all kind of blended into the lush scenery of this movie, no one really standing out, but it is difficult to stand out against the backdrop of robots drop kicking giant monsters that spit acid I guess.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the film an awful lot.  Del Toro is a visionary and his talent is on full display in almost every frame of this movie.  Not the film I might’ve wanted, but I’m more than content to take what I got. 

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