Pacific Rim review

Review Ryan Lambie 8 Jul 2013 - 08:00

Giant robots and monsters clash in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim. Here's Ryan's review of one of the year's more eccentric major films...

In essence, Pacific Rim is a bar room brawl writ large. Huge robots slug it out with colossal monsters, battering them with iron fists and pummelling them with whatever comes to hand - in this case, boats and cargo containers take the place of chairs and pool cues. It's a wild, chaotic film - made all the better by director Guillermo del Toro's visual imagination.

In the near future, a rift in the depths of the Pacific ocean begins to spew out a menagerie of Kaiju: vast, dinosaur-like creatures bent on destroying everything in their path. To this end, the nations of the world club together to build the Jaegers - equally humongous robots mighty enough to take on the Kaiju in combat. These robots are so complicated and powerful, they require two humans to drive them: acting as the two halves of a single brain, the pilots form a neural meld called The Drift, where their thoughts and memories become one - and that coordination is vital when you have to punch a skyscraper-sized monster from the deep square in the face.

An opening monologue fills in a back story broad enough to fill a movie by itself. The power of the Jaegers had begun to turn the tide of the war, but just when it looked as though the Kaiju would be vanquished for good, even larger, more deadly beasts began to emerge from the portal on the ocean floor. Having drifted away from the Pan Pacific Defence Corps following a personal tragedy, pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is drafted back into service by Commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) in order to head up a new fight against the latest Kaiju threat.

There, he meets the trainee pilot Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), who has demons of her own to put to rest before she can achieve her dream of taking the helm of a Jaeger. And there’s also a pair of eccentric scientists - Dr Hermann (Burn Gorman) and Dr Newton (Charlie Day) who are busily researching into the way the Kaiju think and act.

The director of such creature-filled works as Cronos, Mimic, Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy films, del Toro brings all his creativity to this banquet of wholesale destruction. The scratched, battered robots have a lumbering majesty, while the monsters possess a palpable sense of weight and strength. Although unabashedly inspired by the kaiju pictures from Japan - Ishiro Honda's Godzilla, for example, and the legion genre pictures it inspired - there are also references to videogames (Portal fans can't have failed to notice the voice of Ellen "GLaDOS" McLain in the film's trailers) and the pioneering effects of Ray Harryhausen (one early attack even takes place in San Francisco, the site of his wonderful It Came From Beneath The Sea).

Production designer Carol Spier brings an engaging 1940s air to the sets and costumes; the weathered metal and hand-painted graphics on the Jaegers recall the markings of World War II bombers, giving a pleasing sense of lived-in depth to del Toro’s world. Oriental cities have rebuilt themselves around the skeletons of fallen Kaiju. Other countries have erected gigantic defence walls. Touches like this add to the sense of history, even though they're only on the screen for a scant few seconds.

In terms of both action and drama, Pacific Rim begins loudly, and remains at a shriek throughout. Apparently in fear of becoming lost against the backdrop of explosions and multi-storey fist-fights, the performances are noisy where more intimacy may have provided some contrast from all the sound and fury. The heroes are brave and stoic, Idris Elba's strong and benevolent (and gets to use his own accent, which is refreshing after his Prometheus drawl), the comic-relief scientists are bumbling yet ingenious, while Ron Perlman’s cameo - well, we’ll let you discover him for yourselves.

If there's a problem with Pacific Rim, it's that it's in too much of a rush to get to the next set-piece: the idea of the Drift mind meld, in which intimate memories are laid bare, is a compelling one, but its possibilities are only briefly explored. Rinko Kikuchi's character is the one vulnerable spot in the film's centre, and we'd have welcomed some more scenes that explored her character as well as her fighting prowess.

Those fighting set-pieces, however, are spectacular. Unlike Michael Bay, whose camera whirls about like a gnat in a hurricane in his Transformers movies, del Toro - and director of photography Guillermo Navarro - keeps the cinematography simple and uncluttered. Instead, it's the robots and monsters that do the moving, and for once, the 3D, far from being a distraction, helps to pick out these behemoths from the rain and falling debris. There are fights among raging seas, fights among city streets, scraps in harbours... for kaiju geeks, it's a rumbling festival of destruction.

Throughout, it's del Toro's passion for his genre material that shines through. Where so many Hollywood effects films feel as though they've been made by bank managers or accountants, or people desperate to sell action figures, Pacific Rim feels like a movie put together by someone who grew up marvelling at Gamera terrorising Tokyo, or Ultraman defending Earth from gigantic alien invaders - and it has to be said, that wide-eyed, boyish enthusiasm for these elemental machines and monsters is infectious.

The combination of larger-than-life characters, colourful, unusual production design and swirling, rivet-popping action gives Pacific Rim a bright, eccentric atmosphere that's unusual in today's landscape of serious, sometimes cynical summer movies. It may be lacking in depth and subtlety, but in terms of widescreen impact and sheer enthusiasm, Pacific Rim hits its mark with a killer blow.

Pacific Rim is out in UK cinemas on the 12th July.

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movie tumba chennagide.

4 Stars from DoG! That's all I needed! :)

Sold!

Thank god for that - when you hear that there is an "embargo" on publishing reviews I always fear the worst!

That's it! I'm forever signing petitions/booking into hotels/avoiding arrest by giving the name Stacker Pentecost!

Excellent!! Now I can really start getting excited :)

Folks who are loving Guillermo del Toro's offering towards this 60 year sci-fi/fantasy/action sub-genre.

Hideo Kojima... check.
Neil Gaiman... check.
Edgar Wright... check.
Rian Johnson... check.
Emma Watson... check.
Kanye West... check.

and now...

Ryan Lambie...

Check!!!

Glad to see so many folk from across the "Atlantic Rim" are embracing this movie. While so many ignorant and/or unaware of the genre's roots U.S. folk (most likely not born in the 60s/70s/early 80s) just cannot stop with the continued "It looks like Transformers/Power Rangers/Cloverfield rip-off." nonsense. Seriously...from the first teaser I ever saw of Pacific Rim,Bayformers can just go away forever as far as I'm concerned. My advanced screening is a day away. My IMAX 3-D showtime is two days away. Suffice to say I'm very pumped for this movie!

Hear good things from all the right places on this one and especially from the trusted sources! It even gets a decent score on RT too! Ermagherd! Can't wait to see this!

4 stars? now i'm looking forward to it.

Pacific Rim = a bad Evangelion

4 stars? I really cant get around that awful "cancel the apocalypse" speech, but maybe I will give it a try after all.

Hmmm. I still can't seem to get excited about this film. I think it's probably a case of too many big dumb explosion flicks and too many poor attempts at copying Japanese style stories whilst utterly missing the point. I just can't see a reason this film won't make the mistakes pretty much *all* the films in both genres make.

Still, I'll give it a go.

As far as I'm concerned, this film is a must-see for me. I'm glad to see it getting a lot of positive reviews/accolades, because that will certainly balance out or eliminate the "Transformers Rip-Off!Power Ranger clone!" BS.

Now I have to finish reading MM9 before I see this!

Hey don't insult the U.S! University of Saskatchewan is my alma mater. It's really a community college. And it has recess and School House Rock.

A 4 is good news. I could not gauge this one by the trailers.

Humans in robots to fight Kaiju have been around since the Godzilla movies. So no, now go back to your overated anime.

Still so very excited, but now that you've mentioned it, I was hoping for Mako to get some deep moments to concentrate on her character. Ah well, as long as it's still fun.

This is going to sound like an odd question but... is it just me or is finding somewhere showing Pacific Rim harder than it should be? Odeon haven't got it listed except at Leicester Square and BFI Imax and my usual fall back, the Electric Cinema, ain't listing it either. Anyone know what's going on?

evangelion was an aborted project of G.del Toro + P. Jackson, this was aborted for a question of rights and planning for Jackson but Del Toro want to do his Evangelion... yes Pacific Rim is Evangelion at..maybe 70%

Hey don't insult my province! I was born in Saskatchewan and regardless of the hegemonic tendencies of our dear friends to the south, it is most definitely a Canadian province NOT a part of the US just yet.

del Toro, Idris Elba, GLaDOS and robots fighting giant monsters. Going to see it was never a question for me.

Hey! What's hegemonic mean?

Having actually looked it up, ADV pitched the idea to John woo who then pitched the idea of a live action adaption to Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg to produce the film. No directors were ever mentioned and anything else was hearsay. Guillermo was already attached to work on both The mountains of madness and The Haunted Mansion reboot. However put his effort into his dream film which became Pacific Rim. The Evangelion rights are now in a legal battle, no such project went anywhere and will continue to be shelved until the legal battles are finished. So no this was a film Guillermo has wanted to do since hew was a kid, this was stated in a recent featurette for the film. Anime had some involvement as inspiration however the main source was the Japanese Kaiju film's such as Gamera and Godzilla.

I only know the definition of the word from this book a friend gave me years ago - Hegemony Or Survival: America's Quest For Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky.

hegemony: authority or control: control or dominating influence by one person or
group, especially by one political group over society or one nation over
others

Basically it gives a detailed history/timeline of the U.S. socio-economic elite and their pursuit of an Imperial Grand Strategy since WW2 to achieve and maintain global hegemony via military,political and economic means.

I was hoping you'd say: having 2 dominant or recessive genes. Thats homogenous. Alas, Bio-history Eugenics was not my favorite class.

4 Stars? Very good. The Guardian was not as kind.

Ha!

I was sold on this film as soon as you said Kojima.

Sorry but if you're going to this movie because Kanye West has approved it, you got problems.

Been to see it. Two stars from me. Some great effects and set-pieces but insultingly dumb and schmaltzy. You really can get actors, even good ones, to do or say anything you want if you pay them enough and tell them they're loved.

Weta were to handle the effects of the Evangelion film tho, so that's where Jacksons involvement lay. I've seen the Weta concepts and they were amazing. But on the flip side, so what if it borrows from Evangelion and numerous other sources.

Cool!

BUT ... why not just hit the monsters with air and missile strikes? We, okay, the US, have non-nuclear weapons that can wreck any Godzilla type creature in very short order.

Wait, I know. That's a much shorter and less cool movie ...

Went to the Hollywood premiere of Pacific Rim last night. The movie is a blast and I cannot wait to get back to (ahem Thursday,midnight) and enjoy the world that Guillermo created again. Great time at the movies!

Watching it right now. Not impressed. 4/5 is very generous!

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