Film review: ‘Pacific Rim’ (spoiler free)

Time to do the monster mash…


Starring:  Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro / Written by: Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro / 132 minutes

What’s it about?

A rift between universes opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean allowing colossal and aggressive creatures to cross over and set about the annihilation of the human race.  As more and more of the creatures invade, the world’s governments unite to develop a defence resulting in the construction of the giant robotic ‘Jaegers’ – operated by two human pilots connected via a neurological link.

As the ‘Kaiju’ adapt and fight back, the Jaegers are made obsolete and all hope is lost until a former military commander approaches a washed-up Jaeger pilot with a plan to eradicate the Kaiju threat once and for all…

In review

Pacific Rim is a visual monster (I’ll try and leave the puns there) on a scale that is fully worthy of an IMAX 3D viewing.  It’s Godzilla and Cloverfield on steroids, every inch as bold and heavy as Transformers and served up passionately by Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.

It’s a shame then that aside from the epic destruction (Hollywood certainly loves destroying America this summer) and the exhilarating Jaeger/Kaiju ‘fights’ the story is a little thin (although we are presented with a fairly satisfying explanation as to why the Kaiju are invading) and the characters, for the most part, are not all that interesting.  Sure, Raleigh Becket (Hunnam) serves adequately as the film’s likeable hero – benefiting from the support of trainee pilot Mako Mori (Kikuchi) – and there is the usual restrained yet nuanced performance from the always watchable Idris Elba (permitted use of his native English accent) as former military man Stacker Pentecost but quirky scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), despite providing some levity, verge on annoyance.  There is also del Toro’s very own Hellboy Ron Perlman as black market dealer Hannibal Chow (where did del Toro get all these names?) who is fun but perhaps a little too cartoonish.  In the end you may find yourself coming away feeling a little empty with any lingering thoughts likely to be focused on the visual elements.

With regard to the afore-mentioned Jaeger/Kaiju confrontations this really is what you came to see and on that level Pacific Rim hits all the marks (sorry, I did say I would try and refrain from cheap puns), they’re fast and energetic leaving you feeling the weight and gravity of every strike and blow as the landscape crumbles around the duelling behemoths.  They are the true characters of the film (you could argue the Jaeger named ‘Gypsy Danger’ is the main star), each one varied in design and intricately detailed.

Between these confrontations the pace of Pacific Rim begins to drag a little with middling efforts to evoke interest in the characters.  The climax will however leave you on the edge of your seat gasping for air as all CGI hell is unleashed upon the audience.  The door is left open for potential sequels but unless there’s a stronger and more engaging story next time around their validity would be questionable.

The bottom line:  Pacific Rim is a feast for the eyes and a noisy, fun summer blockbuster.  As long as you don’t expect a strong narrative and memorable characters then for the most part it’s an enjoyable and epic ride.

Viewers note that there is a mid-credits scene.

See it if you like… Transformers:  Dark of the Moon, Cloverfield

Pacific Rim is in cinemas now.

Have you seen Pacific Rim?  If so, what did you think?  Leave your spoiler free comments below!

Gypsy Danger - meticulously designed and arguably one of the stars of 'Pacific Rim'.

Gypsy Danger – meticulously designed and arguably one of the stars of ‘Pacific Rim’.

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