Hey guys! Horrorella here...
I have long been a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work. His particular brand of fantasy is something that really resonates with me. And for a lot of reasons. You get the feeling as you watch his films that he is over-the-moon-excited for the stuff he is showing you. He always manages to convey through his stories that he is as big a nerd as we are, and he wants to show us something special. Through his films, he shows us that real, true magic doesn’t have to be that far away. That real magic exists just below the surface of our reality. You get the sense that there might be a troll market just around the corner, or a fairy kingdom in your backyard - you just have to know how to look for them. His films are always filled with both awe and with heart. And PACIFIC RIM, while more sci-fi than magic, is no different.
PACIFIC RIM takes place in our near future, when giant monsters (Kaiju) begin emerging from the from a transdimensional rift in the Pacific Ocean and laying waste to our coastal cities. In the early days, we quickly learn that conventional weapons aren’t going to cut it against this new enemy. So the world puts aside its petty differences, pools its knowledge and resources, and the Jaeger program is born. We begin building giant ass-kicking machines to beat the living shit out of the Kaiju. And for awhile, it works.
Until the Kaiju begin appearing at an increased frequency, and the Jaegers are no longer able to control them. The program begins suffering crippling losses, and so the world leadership has decided to phase it out and try another tactic. We decide to hide. We begin building massive coastal walls to keep the monsters at bay. But let me tell you something about big giant monsters - they LOVE crushing up walls. That shit is like a sandbox for them.
So in the last days of humanity’s fight, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) brings together the last four Jaeger teams to enact a new plan that will hopefully seal the rift, and stop the Kaiju invasion for good.
Del Toro’s intense attention to detail is once again unparalleled. The work on display here is absolutely breathtaking, for the Jaegers and the Kaiju alike. I can’t think of another director working today who is as keenly aware of visuals the way this guy is. The SIZE. The WEIGHT. You feel all of it. They are not just big. They are MASSIVE. And that is communicated so exquisitely throughout the film. From the fight scenes to the shots inside the hangar bays as the Jaegers are being repaired and geared up - you really truly get an idea of the sheer scope at play here.
And the way they move is brilliant. They move like GIANT MACHINES and GIANT MONSTERS that each weigh a gazillion pounds. Weight, mass, gravity, momentum, resistance, all factors are accounted for in a way that makes these creatures more life-like than any of their predecessors. You have never ever seen fights like this onscreen. Your brain never steps in to remind you that this is all mo-cap and zeroes and ones. It’s just screaming over and over again GIANT FUCKING MONSTERS ARE FIGHTING!!!
Del Toro has always been a master world-builder. It’s really one of his biggest strengths, and one of the reasons his films come to life the way they do. No exception here. The art design, the colors, the look of it all is fantastic. We spend a good chunk of the film in Hong Kong, and the city just feels so alive. So much depth and it feels like a character all on its own.
And while he gave the film a futuristic setting, it’s a future that isn’t so far removed from our own present as to make it unrecognizable. We’re in the near future, sure but it’s not a future that looks like the inside of an iPod. It’s not all clean and shiny and our gadgets aren’t more impressive for their gadgetry than their actual purpose. Sure, our technology is awesome, but at the end of the day, we’re fighting monsters in big fucking mechs, so they need to LOOK LIKE BIG FUCKING MECHS - not sleek CGI creations. The Jaegers are huge massive MACHINES. They have gears and pistons and tons of moving parts. They are ginormous hunks of metal that get dirty and dented and are scratched all to hell because they’ve done some serious battle.
If the film's strength is in its world, then I would pin its weakenss (minor, though it may be) on some of the character work. The acting on display is kind of a mixed bag. Some characters come off better than others, but everyone manages to get their point across. Charlie Hunnam is a little empty in the role of Raleigh Beckett, our lead pilot. Some people seem to be having issues with the nerdy scientist duo portrayed by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, but honestly, I didn’t mind them. They bring a particularly spazzy brand of comic relief, yet still manage to provide important plot points and serve a functional service to the story. Ron Perlman is scenery-chewing-awesome as he tends to be. The really solid work can be found in the storyline of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and aspiring Jaeger pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Much of the heart of this story can be found within these two characters, and the actors really bring them to life.
But even though it had a few flaws in terms of performance and character development, here’s the thing - I was having so much fun that I didn’t even care. At all. All of the little stuff that didn’t work perfectly was completely overshadowed by all of the epic, glorious fun stuff that had me bouncing in my seat like a little kid.
It’s been said by others, and I feel the same way - PACIFIC RIM left me wanting more, but in the best possible way. I wanted to spend more time with the pilots. I wanted to see more of the beautiful cities that have been created, with all of their light and color. I wanted to see more destruction from our Kaiju and more heroism from our Jaegers and their pilots. I had such a blast in this movie. I can’t wait to see it again.
You need to be in the theater this weekend. See this on the biggest screen possible. With the biggest sound system. If you have kids, take them. Immediately. I can’t even imagine how exciting it would be to see this at 8 or 10. It’s full of the kind of awe and wonder and excitement that makes movies amazing. Seriously, guys. This film was made for us. Have fun this weekend!
Follow me on Twitter