Pacific Rim movie poster

Pacific Rim

In theaters July 12, 2013

Rated

,

131 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , ,

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim can be summarized with one word: BIG. Big robots, big monsters, big characters, big action, big everything. Hideo Kojima (video game maker, Metal Gear) tweeted, “Pacific Rim is the ultimate otaku film that all of us had always been waiting for…”. In many ways, it is.

The initial Rim teaser trailer immediately reminded me of a childhood fave, Robot Jox. Let me know if you’ve heard of it. Jox was a cheesy robot vs. robot war flick from the 80s, which borrowed from otaku (anime/manga obsession) and capitalized on the decade’s Transformers craze. Pacific Rim is similar, which turned out as the childhood memory I had always been waiting to revisit. I sat glued to the back of my seat for the next two hours.

Charlie Hunnam (Son’s of Anarchy/SOA) plays Raleigh, a brave young pilot in the early years of a battle between the human race, and huge city-leveling monsters called Kaiju. The Kaiju are erupting from a portal deep below the Pacific Ocean at an ever-increasing pace, which thrusts the world into poverty. Raleigh pilots a Jaeger called Gipsy Danger, a massive robot designed to bring down Kaiju with heavy artillery and a unique fighting gusto. It’s not a bad sophomore film outing by Hunnam, however, SOA fans will immediately recognize Hunnam’s struggle to shed Jax’s limp and snarl.

The breakout star is undeniably Idris Elba, the British actor known for his roles in Prometheus and Thor. Here, Elba plays Stacker Pentecost, commander of the World’s fleet of Jaegers – and he commands this role. Pentecost is a steadfast leader, but losing bots to a relentless enemy results in the program’s dismissal. Pentecost and his team of zany scientists (Charlie Day, Burn Gorman) gather the remaining Jaegers and pilots for one last assault on the Kaiju portal.

The narrative loses momentum in the second act when searching for Raleigh’s replacement co-pilot and establishing a relationship that never feels natural. Pentecost’s adopted daughter and mech guru, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) is the right person for the job, but her childhood run-in with a Kaiju creates a potential rift in the mind-melding process. Jaeger pilots must combine their collective memories and thoughts to control their robot, but the process is taxing and extremely dangerous.

Rim successfully re-builds its steam in the final showdown between bot and monster. The fight scenes are so masterfully crafted and beautifully captured on film, that Michael Bay and Transformers better take note. Guillermo del Toro has set the bar at near unreachable heights. Despite the overused wet climates, Pacific Rim gives the movie-goer a desirable mix of open atmosphere cityscapes and claustrophobic ocean battles.

Ron Perlman has an underutilized cameo as the Kaiju corpse dealer, Hannibal Chau. The black market tradesman assists Day’s scientist with the necessary Kaiju remnants to complete his experiment, but suffers a terrifying fate at the hands of an infant Kaiju. Rim could have benefitted from a fleshed out black market sub-plot. I vote for a spin-off series or comic run. Chau would eventually have his revenge, so stay tuned beyond the initial closing credits.

Bring some friends, destroy some popcorn, and enjoy the thrill ride. Rim is loud and epic, so pick the most state-of-the-art theater or IMAX experience available. There are a few frightening scenes but for the most part, it’s no worse than Transformers violence, or the neck-snapping Man of Steel. If your kids can handle that, they are going to love this. Guillermo del Toro’s passion project was written for easy consumption, so while some lines come off clunky or over-explained, they serve a purpose, and they stay true to anime. Pacific Rim is one experience you will not regret splurging on this weekend. It’s a BIG fantasy sci-fi flick done absolutely right.

Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.

Comments

  1. BIG was definitely the theme for Pacific Rim. A state-of-the-art theater with a BIG screen and a BIG sound system is absolutely the way to go for optimal enjoyment. Otherwise, you’re doing yourself a BIG disservice.

  2. Glued to the back of the seat is a good description! The action, sounds, and Jaeger fights were all overwhelming! \BIG\ is definitely the best description. Excellent review, very thorough.

  3. Another well written review. Unfortunately this is a movie that I have absolutely no interest in. Sounds like it is the perfect summer popcorn movie.

  4. I have heard a lot about pacific rim on the radio but had no clue what the movie was about! After reading this I think its something I’d like

  5. Even though the rating is for older kids, it sounds like it’s something that my older childcare children will be watching and my soon to be son-in-law will enjoy.

    Great review!

  6. My husband is making me go see this tomorrow. It seems like it’s not my type of movie at all, but I’m going to go anyway. I hope I’m pleasantly surprised though! A lot of people seem to like it.

  7. This is one of the worst films not only of this summer but of all time. It swings big but misses on pretty much every level. The plot is paper thin and poorly executed. I was calling out what was going to happen next on numerous occasions, there was very little creativity in the story. The giant robots were cool but they quickly became gimmicky and the monsters origin/evolution stories were inconsistent and predictable. Who didn’t see that level 5 coming? The actors did all they could with the material given but I walked away from this movie severely disappointed. If it weren’t for the fact that my friend and I turned it into MST3K it would have been a total bust.

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