Movie Review – Pacific Rim

I imaging Jaegers give the greatest of high fives.

It has been 20 years in the making since I fondly remember battling monsters with my transformer action figures when I was like 8.  Pretending that these two plastic toys are really engaging in some sort of world-wide destruction battle, I just wish that it was something for real that we could see.  Not real in the sense like there was an actual attack on America by Godzilla, but something more live action than my young, developing brain could imagine.

Now that I am a little older, a little wiser and still have the mindset of wanting to see giant mech battles with giant monsters, I think I have found the movie of my youth.  That movie is Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim 1c

From the mind that will be studied and cherished by science for decades to come, Guillermo del Toro brings us the quintessential summer blockbuster movie with his ode to the Kaiju Movies of old.  The World is under attack by kaijus, monsters coming from a rift that has formed in the Pacific Ocean and the first encounter with a Category 1 Kaiju is devastating.  America was lucky to stop the first attack, but after repeated attacks across the Pan Pacific Coast countries, a new form of monster had to be created to fight them.  In comes Jaegers, (German for Hunters) monstrous amalgamations of science, steel and brawn.  They are controlled by two pilots and connected to the machine via a neural handshake known as The Drift.  The connected pilots and Jaegers become formidable opponents against the Kaiju menace.

The story focuses on the waning efforts of the PPCD (Pan Pacific Coastal Defence) in their battle against the kaijus.  The pilots of Gipsy Danger, Yancy and Raleigh Becket (Diego Klattenhoff and Charlie Hunnam) engage in an opening battle with a Category 3 Knifehead Kaiju.  The battle leaves Gipsy in ruins, Raleigh hurt and his brother killed during the battle.  We get snippets of other failures in battle with the Jaeger program being shutdown in favor of a real original plan with a coastal wall.  The last remnants of the Jaegers are sent to Hong Kong to defend the coast and the rift at the Shatterdome.  Raleigh is brought back to pilot the newly rebuilt Gipsy Danger along with a untested pilot named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who has a strong bond with Raleigh and the commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Alba).  The remaining Jaegers will make one final assault on the rift.

That’s the story ladies and gentlemen and don’t expect any more than that.  Guillermo certainly brings more visual punch than a story, but then again you have Earth defending itself from kaijus in a last stand scenario.  I don’t know what more could be had from this sort of movie.  Sure it would be nice to learn more and more about the kaijus but really we all just want to see these glorious looking battle scenes and watch mech and kaiju slug it out.  You know what?  That is exactly what we get.

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The human element to the story is just the bare minimum that is needed for this movie.  The characters are all archetypes of some militaristic, national cut-out with say the Aussie pilots being these brash and boisterous kaiju killers, then you have the Russian pilots who don’t say much and look like they stepped out of a Soviet Cold War era Russia.   Even the American pilot Raleigh is a damaged, but phenomenal pilot who has the memories of his brother’s death weighing on him like a damn monster bear hug.  Then the titular commander of the PPCD Stacker is a commander that is cut from the same fabric that Michael Bay uses to wad up and stuff down a cannon.  They play the one-dimensional characters well enough to be thrown into a Jaeger and kick some ass.  Del Toro usually excels at making the audience connect with the characters in a film, but these come off as a generic action archetype.

The scope of the film even seems narrow, given that the entire Pacific Rim countries are engaged with kaiju battles on a constant basis.  We get few snippets of other battles that have taken place over the course of the initial arrivals of the kaijus, but everything bottlenecks into a convenient location like Hong Kong where the set piece confrontation takes place.  But while I was wanting these large scale assault like action sequences, Del Toro managed to condense the action into three unbelievable set pieces that satisfy more than some chaotic, hard to follow orgy of metal and flesh.

This is truly where the film shines everyone, the jaeger kaiju battles are nothing short of a luchador wrestling match, but with fucking robots and monsters.  There are several set pieces that are entrenched in the film with the second battle in Hong Kong being the single best fight of the film.  You haven’t lived until you see 2500 ton battle harden mechs delivering these skull crush blows against equally impressive creatures of various design and capabilities.  Each fight is just a glorious, back alley brawl with devastating hits, scaling action and some of the most satisfying visuals you will ever see.  You can’t sit through one battle without having a stupid grin on your face and letting out a slight “whoo” or fist pump.  Shit I got all giddy when I see Gipsy Danger flash “Elbow Rockets” which is used to deliver a Tyson like haymaker to some poor kaiju.  The movements of the Jaegers are mecha in nature, but seemingly have human like agility with their speed and fighting prowess, probably due to Drift between the pilots and machine.  It all makes for a fantastic visual orgy of battles, machines and ridiculous monsters.

Pacific Rim 1b

Pacific Rim is certainly worth seeing…multiple times.  Hell I left the theater wanting to see more of the monster fighting.  Del Toro certainly pays tribute to the kaiju movies of old, while making something “original” that isn’t just a damn remake/sequel/whatever.  The movie is just monumental in every way.  From the run time, kaijus, jaegers and even the battles, everything plays out like a big summer blockbuster should be.  It’s fun to watch the world’s last hope come together with rocket fists and twin swords in hand to lay waster to the monster menace.  The kaijus are amazing to look at, even though it’s hard to tell one from the other at times.  Then the Jaegers themselves have distinctive look and personality that matches the nation of origin.  It’s all good fun and a fantastic visual buffet.

What could have been a cheesy, Transformers like movie, Del Toro gracefully places his personal love of the kaiju genre into the movie.  While he surely is using the standard tropes of a summer action flick in one hand, the other hand is loudly rocket punching your expectations into the ground.  He knows how to get an audience to collectively say “awesome!” while never staying from what makes his movie that standout of the summer.  The winning formula seems to be ROBOTS vs. MONSTERS.  That alone is enough to get me to love this movie.

Rating: 4 Jaegers out of 5

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

2 Responses to Movie Review – Pacific Rim

  1. When I first heard about this, I kind of dismissed it. But seeing that trailer…I did mutter “Okay, that is pretty cool,” about three seconds before one of the characters says it. I’m going to just have to go see it now, aren’t I?

    • Nick says:

      You really have to see it. If you have any love of old style Kaiju monster movies like Mothra, Godzilla, or even an affinity for movies like Robot Jox which is just Mech-robot battles on a large scale, this is the perfect movie for that. It is fun, loud, giddy inducing good time.

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