‘Pacific Rim’ Movie Review
If you see any movie this summer, make sure to check out this latest offering from Pan’s Labyrinth helmer Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim is what happens when a visionary director has upwards of 180 million dollars to make the fanboy wet dreams of his youth a cinematic reality. Throw in an adept cast, a surprisingly engaging end-of-world storyline, raging Kaijus and towering robots and voila — Del Toro’s back in action in a big way. This visceral joyride will leave you beaming with juvenile delight and, in this fangirl’s opinion, leave the rest of this summer’s tentpoles drowning in its wake.
In his first film since Hellboy II: The Golden Army in 2008, Del Toro balances any self-indulgent ambition with boyish passion, breathing life into a flaccid blockbuster genre. Penned by Clash of the Titans scribe Travis Beacham, Pacific Rim‘s story isn’t as daft as one might expect. It effectively opens with a gripping expository monologue from leading man and unorthodox pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). We learn the Kaijus have terrorized coastal cities for much of recent memory and global forces responded with colossal military mechs – Jaeger’s – designed to sabotage the monsters’ ruthless terraforming plot. When all hope seems lost, a diverse fleet of Jaeger pilots volunteer for a high-stakes, all out crusade against the monsters, a crusade that proves once again that no one does monsters and mayhem quite like Del Toro.
Massive enough to swing cruise-liners like baseball bats, Jaeger’s require two pilots — sharing consciousness — in order to simultaneously operate these gigantic machines. It sounds gimmicky but curiously feels innovative onscreen; and Idris Elba deserves much of the credit. He effortlessly grounds this fantastical world with a compelling performance as Stacker Pentecost. Sons of Anarchy hunk Charlie Hunnam adequately carries the weight of lead Raleigh Becket, enough to land a role in Del Toro’s character-driven gothic tale Crimson Peak, slated for a 2015 release. Charlie Day and Ron Perlman vie for laughs as a satirical, obsessive scientist and black-market-Kaiju-organs-dealer, respectively.
ILM’s enrapturing visual effects consistently elicited a verbal reaction from the audience, myself included. Submerging nearly every fight sequence in water was a bold, imaginative choice that expertly accentuates the scope and scale of the behemoths battles. And to say that the fights were exceptionally choreographed would be a gross understatement. Going in, I dreaded the 3D conversion element. In my opinion, only two movies have made a convincing argument for 3D — both shot with 3D cameras. Like Prometheus and Avatar, Pacific Rim capitalizes on the nuanced, underutilized interactive benefit 3D technology was intended to provide. Here Del Toro skillfully manipulates depth perception, making a persuasive case for post-production 3D conversion.
Del Toro’s unbridled passion for filmmaking makes its way onto every frame of this iconic, modern monster flick. His hyper-detailed construction of mythos and his open embrace of Kaiju nostalgia makes this concept not just bearable, but easily embraceable.
9 out of 10 stars
Follow me on Twitter @simoneboyce