Pacific Rim

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Rob Kazinsky, and Max Martini

Pacific Rim is an interesting entry into the summer 2013 blockbuster season. It is not a sequel, it does not contain an A-list cast, and the title is a little bland. Moreover, there was even controversy before its release as Michael Bay seemingly took potshots at Pacific Rim as a Transformers rip-off.  Pacific Rim however delivers some summer movie popcorn fun in what I would describe as a combination of Godzilla, Transformers, Voltron, and War of the Worlds.

In the film, the world has been beset by an alien attack.  But the invasion is not coming from the skies, it is coming from the ocean.  There is a portal between Earth and another dimension in the Pacific Ocean.  A breach in that portal allows monstrous aliens to emerge through the Pacific and and wreak havoc and complete destruction wherever they land.  The world’s traditional weapons are ineffective against the Kaijus.  International governments pool their resources and develop the Jaeger program. 

Jaegers are massive robots, equipped with nuclear firepower, swords and other types of weapons.  Jaegars are powered by two human pilots who connect through a neural link process known as drifting.  Drifting allows the pilots to essentially operate the Jaeger as one mind.  Initially, the Jaeger program is wildly successful and for a number of years, the Kaijus are handily defeated by the Jaegers.  However, the Kaijus begin to adapt to the Jaegers fighting style and begin wiping out Jaegers left and right, reducing the once massive Jaeger program to just four remaining robots.

Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost) is the head of the Jaeger program, and he has been ordered to wind the program down in Hong Kong while the government builds a coastal wall to keep Kaijus out of cities.  However, Stacker knows that the wall will be ineffective and the Jaegers are the only thing standing between Kaijus destroying life on Earth.  He assembles a team of the best Jaeger pilots in the world, including Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam).  Becket is incredibly skilled but has been retired for several years since his brother and co-pilot died during a brutal Kaiju attack.  Becket must face his own demons in order to pilot a Jaeger again.  Amidst the ongoing battle to “cancel the apocalypse,” Becket finds a love interest, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), fights the new hotshot on the block Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky) (aka Warlow on True Blood), and discovers the man Stacker really is.

Pacific Rim is at times entertaining, but definitely flawed.  Guillermo del Toro is a skillful director who helmed one of my favorite foreign films, Pan's Labyrinth; and he also directed the two Hellboy films.  He brings those talents to Pacific Rim in that he creates the stunning, eye-catching imagery that he is known for.  Del Toro directs visually stunning robot/alien fight sequences that are larger in life.  The scenes are at once contemporary, but feel like an ode to the old Godzilla style movies from years ago—complete with Godzilla-like aliens destroying Asian cities.  In addition, Del Toro also made a great casting decision with Idris Elba in the lead.  Elba without question is the core of the film.  As the head of the Jaeger program, he infuses his character with steel and tenacity, but at the same time, he humanizes Stacker.

With all of that being said, Pacific Rim has a number of flaws.  As the film is a throwback to older movies, the overall plot is fairly simplistic, and the dialogue is at times lacking.  The acting, aside from Elba, is spotty in a number of places.  This is particularly problematic as there is a huge period within the film where the Jaegers are not around and the actors are doing the heavy lifting.  This lengthy Jaeger-less period drags and bogs down the movie.  The mark of a great film is that time flies by and you’re not quite ready for the film to end.  I was ready for Pacific Rim to end.

Pacific Rim earns a 0.06% rating.  It is not extraordinary as it is similar in plot to so many other films within the genre.  Moreover, this summer’s earlier science fiction films, Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3 set the bar incredibly high and Pacific Rim is not on level with either film.  However, the special effects, fight sequences and Elba, land this film a satisfactory rating.