Film Review: Pacific Rim

Gary says:

When enormous alien creatures, known as Kaiju, emerge from deep beneath the Pacific Ocean and start smashing their way through an A-Z of the most important cities on earth, humanity develops a fleet of colossal, mechanical fighting machines to fend them off.

Termed the Jaeger Program and effectively led by the authoritative Stacker Pentecoast (played by Luther’s Idris Elba), this defence is initially very successful and the pilots of the Jaegers are idolised and worshipped like rock stars. However, the tide turns when the monstrous Kaiju grow bigger and their attacks become more frequent. Pilots start dropping like flies as the world begins to lose the war; leaving the Jaeger Program facing the scrapheap.

Despite slightly rusty performances from Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, the film’s diverse group of characters are a well-oiled unit and are suitably troubled by the deadly effects of the Kaiju war. Ron Perlman, who previously worked with director Guillermo del Toro in the Hellboy series, is cool and slick as Hannibal Chau – a black market trader who has profited hugely from the conflict. Charlie Day is also great at bringing his trademark comedic energy to the role of the Kaiju-mad scientist, Dr Newton Geizler.

The dramatic, spectacular battle sequences in Pacific Rim are like a ten-year old boy’s imagination is being projected from the toy box and onto the big screen. They are tense and exciting, with some surprises and impressive special effects that see buildings broken down as easily as Lego. The vivid and eye-catching use of colour really helps this blockbuster stand out amongst the bland, desaturated wastelands typically seen in the apocalypse genre.

Pacific Rim is del Toro’s enthralling and visually stunning love letter to classic Japanese monster movies. The plot and characters are very engaging, the battles are incredibly intense and it deserves to make a gigantic splash at this summer’s box office.

Tom says:

Guillermo del Toro returns to directing in style with Pacific Rim, a beautifully stylized war story between monster and machine on a gargantuan scale.

In Earth’s near future, colossal monsters, or “Kaiju”, began pouring through a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and laying siege to cities all over the world. The Earth’s governments started the Jaeger Program to combat this threat, building gigantic mech-suits, the two pilots having to share minds – which is a great way of providing key back-story for important characters – to control the machine and storm into the sea to slay the alien beasts before they reach the shore. But the monsters began spawning faster and faster until the Jaegers became too overwhelmed with the attacks, and the Jaeger Program was terminated. This is all nicely explained in the first 5 minutes of the film as we, the viewer, are thrown into the deep end of a world on the brink of defeat.

One thing I love about this film is that del Toro makes it clear that these events are not taking place in our current time. The entire world has been affected by the kaiju: the language has adapted, kaiju bones have been fitted into the architecture, the Jaeger pilots are celebrated like sports stars – it really does feel like another chunk of the Earth’s history. And del Toro also makes it clear that it is the Earth in this war, not just the army of a superpower. The Jaeger pilots are ordinary people from all over the world, specifically trained to control these machines. Because of this, Pacific Rim is as human as a monster movie can be.

But the greatest thing about Pacific Rim is the visuals; even on mute, this film would make a captivating watch. del Toro proves that the apocalypse doesn’t have to be grim by saturating the picture with a colour palette that spans the entire spectrum, which is especially noticeable in the neon-infused city of Hong Kong and, even though I don’t usually enjoy fight sequences, the wide variety of the bio-luminescent monsters and unique Jaegers make sure the fights feel fresh and fascinating.

Although perhaps Charlie Hunman and Rinko Kikuchi were not the best choices for lead actors, and there are a few clichéd plot points throughout, Pacific Rim stays inventive enough, with its incredible visuals and fictional history, to ensure that it is a monster of a movie.

by Gary Woodcock & Tom Woodcock