Pacific Rim (2013)


Director:  Guillermo Del Toro
Cast:  Charlie HunnamIdris ElbaRinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman
Plot:  As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

Genre:  Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Awards:  -
Runtime:  131min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language.

This film was reviewed in IMAX 3D.

A little Asian girl gets chased by a huge Kaiju, runs into an alley and hides behind a trash trolley.  Cowering in fear, she turns around to see where the Kaiju is.  It stomps towards the alley and stops as we stare into the eyes of a devilish beast. 

It is a scene that reminds me of Bong Joon-ho's The Host (2006), which in turn reminds me of the context and history of this cult genre that all started with the Ishiro Honda Japanese classic Gojira (1954).  Kaiju means strange beasts and the only way to attempt to defeat these monsters is to think and go big.

Mexican writer-director Guillermo Del Toro takes our fanboy dreams and childhood desires of seeing giant beasts battling giant robots on the big screen and fulfills them... well almost.  I have always been fascinated by the Kaiju, and Del Toro delivers with aplomb a tremendously enjoyable high-concept film with awe-inspiring visuals and a cutting-edge sound design. 

He sets his film up very quickly in an economical prologue that brings us up to speed with everything we need to know for us to immerse in the ensuing spectacle, and more unexpectedly, its range of emotions as felt by the film's major characters.

Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi's performances are standouts and their characters form the emotional 'bridge' in which Del Toro leverages on with skill in crucial flashback sequences, in particular the aforementioned scene with the girl.  But of course the real stars of the show are the human-propelled Jaegar robots and their kickass fighting moves. 

The entire film is well-paced and is adorned with interesting, oddball supporting characters, so it is difficult not to enjoy the work, or some might attest, the wacky art of Del Toro, with a pulsating soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi to boot.

The only issue is that when it comes to the final act, it feels less awesome than it should really be, partly because what has transpired before might have possibly exhausted our ability to be continually awestruck.  But this is only slight and the climax on its own veers into another environment completely, which defies the conventional staging trajectory of having a familiar setting for a showdown. 

Pacific Rim is a terrific blockbuster, and one of the genuine crowd-pleasers of the summer.  It is also aware of its cultural context as an entry into the Kaiju genre, albeit one that is envisioned and marketed as a massive Hollywood vehicle… and this if I may add is definitely for the monstro-better.

Verdict:  Del Toro takes our fanboy dreams and childhood desires and fulfills them... well almost. 


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