Genre: Action, Adventure
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day
Pacific Rim represents that rarest of things: Hollywood taking a big risk. Yes, it features giant robots hitting things (something the Transformers franchise have proven can be incredibly lucrative) but it’s refreshing to see so much money thrown at a project that doesn’t have an A-list star or a mega-franchise attached. And while director Guillermo del Toro has made some fantastic movies, helming a picture of this scale is all but new to him. Thankfully the risk has paid off – Pacific Rim is a blast.
In the near future, mankind has found itself under siege from strange creatures named Kaijus. These giant monsters have found their way to our world through a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and have begun laying waste to major cities around the world. Realising that this threat is more than they can handle individually, the world’s governments have pooled their resources to come up with the Jaeger Program – giant mechas with human pilots designed to face the Kaijus head on. Initially the program is a huge success, but as the Kaiju attacks become increasingly regular and vicious, the Jeager Program has found itself on the back foot and in desperate need of a plan.
Yes, it’s as ludicrous as it sounds but it’s also ludicrously fun. As brilliant as films like Batman Begins and Casino Royale are, their success seems to have instilled a sense of self-seriousness in modern blockbusters. Pacific Rim, by contrast, is a heart-on-sleeve love letter to the Japanese monster movie and mecha genres delivered with an almost child-like enthusiasm by a director who is clearly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Pacific Rim is bold, brash and most importantly, a great deal of fun.
What’s most remarkable about Pacific Rim is the way in which it balances so many elements so successfully. The robots versus monsters fights are every bit as spectacular as you could hope for but there’s also a host of surprisingly developed characters, the world is well realised and everything is perfectly paced with a tangible sense of forward momentum.
Talking of those humans, while most of the characters (and their relationships with each other) are engaging and relatable, they are sometimes let down by uneven performances. Charlie Hunnam is a likeable lead as retired Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket and Idris Elba turns in a commanding performance as Jaeger Program leader Stacker Pentecost but elsewhere there are dodgy Australian accents and a pair of scientists (played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) who veer a little too far into slapstick territory. The dialogue takes an occasional turn for the cheesy too but everything is delivered with such good-hearted gusto that it’s easy to overlook.
In a Summer that has already seen new entries in the Iron Man, Star Trek, Superman and Wolverine franchises it would be all too easy to overlook a film with the silly name about robots fighting monsters starring no-one particularly recognisable. Don’t make this mistake. Go see Pacific Rim – if only to be reminded for a brief moment just how fun movies can be.