Pacific Rim is the newest summer blockbuster from Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth). But, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this then you probably already knew that. The best way I’ve found to sum up the movie is thusly: Gundams versus Cthulhu directed by GDT. What could go wrong?
Know Your Audience
It’s FANTASTIC. Everything is spot on and it makes for a wonderful tribute to both the Kaiju and Mecha genres, even though the movie comes from the west. I honestly kept waiting for it to shift to guys in rubber suits and cardboard buildings. It has plenty of explosions to keep your more pedestrian moviegoers entertained and enough sight-gags to keep the tone light-hearted. What’s most important, however, is that there are plenty of geeky tips-of-the-hat to keep the more… Otaku-ish fans happy. From the appearance of Burn Gorman (Owen Harper from Torchwood) to the dialogue of Ellen McLain (the voice of GLaDOS) as the voice of the computer systems, this movie knows its audience. There’s even a rocket punch (okay, it’s not a true rocket punch because the fist doesn’t go flying off and then return, but still).
The cast does a good job of dealing with the material, even though the crew lacks big name actors apart from Ron Perlman (who is his usual excellent self – he and GDT seem to have a great working relationship) and Idris Elba. Guillermo’s distinct creature effects also shine front and center. Each of the Mecha has its own style as they all come from different countries and generations. From the shiny, streamlined newest Australian model to the old iron plated Russian mech, each has its own flavor. Yet they all still look like they belong together. The Kaiju also each look unique and distinct – alien while at the same time recognizable (like, ah that one looks a bit like a crab, that one looks a bit like a gorilla) and deliciously fleshy in true “del Toro” fashion.
What is Pacific Rim about?
The story revolves around a team of pilots of the Jaegers (the giant robots) who are mankind’s last hope against the horrible Kaiju. The Kaiju are the giant monsters who emerge from a rip in space-time between two tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean. The pilots act in pairs through a neural link because one human brain can’t fully process everything necessary to control a Jaeger, and this does something interesting within the dynamics of the movie; it makes the movie more of a buddy flick.
That dynamic, along with the musical score (which, while a little weak in the beginning, really kicks off), makes me feel like this could be the Top Gun of this decade – in a good way. It draws from (and uses) a LOT of the usual tropes from that genre of military-buddy-team movies. I won’t go too in-depth (this isn’t the Spoiler Cast, after all) but you’ve got:
- the natural talent who suffers a traumatic event and leaves the service, only to get called back when the stakes get high
- the rookie with everything to prove
- the gruff military commander who secretly cares
- the old soldier who goes in for one last hurrah
Despite the fact that a lot of this is par for the course, the storyline still comes together and feels satisfyingly full.
Last Few Thoughts
I saw Pacific Rim in 3D IMAX.
I had a good seat and the IMAX was totally worth it, if for the audio experience alone. This is definitely a movie to see in theaters. The 3D was never bothersome or obtrusive, which was nice, so you can totally see it in 2D without losing anything.
Stay through the credits for a bit, because there is an extra bit that made for a good finishing touch.
Overall: GO SEE IT WHILE IT’S IN THEATERS.