Pacific Rim, 2013, USA
When giant monsters called “Kaiju” rise out of the Pacific Ocean through a portal, mankind has come together to build machines known as “Jaegers” to fight the monsters. These machines are piloted by two people whose minds and memories have fused together. As time goes on, the Jaegers become less and less effective against the Kaiju. Stacker Pentecoast (Idris Elba) wants to launch one last assault against the monsters, so he calls on Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a washed-up Jaeger pilot to assist. His partner is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Stacker’s protégé. Together they pilot the Gipsy Danger, an older model Jaeger.
I loved the film. While the plot was fairly straightforward and relatively predictable, it is a ton of fun and it looks fantastic. The opening sequence in particular looks amazing. I saw the film in IMAX 3D and I’m glad I did so. The 3D was so good – and worth the money, which is something I very rarely say! However, this just proves my ongoing belief that 3D is something best left to master directors such as Guillermo del Toro. He understood how to use 3D effectively and it truly added to the film.
The film is a beautiful homage to classic monster movies. The fight sequences between the Jaegers and Kaiju are thrilling. They’re big, messy and shot beautifully. I also felt that the Kaiju were a clever allusion to global warming and the fact that “superstorms” are becoming a world reality. The Kaiju are measured on a scale, very much the way hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes are measured. The message of coming together as a planet against a greater threat is very much in line with the current looming global warming crisis. As a planet we need to work together to change our habits to stop global warming.
I thought Elba and Kikuchi were fantastic in their roles. Each added surprising depth to their characters. Elba in particular was memorable, and has a speech towards the end that very much reminded me of the “inspirational speech” in Independence Day (but better!). Kikuchi balances demur and reserved with iron will and determination. Hunnam did a good job in his role, as well, but his character wasn’t nearly as interesting and lacked depth.
Summer blockbusters nowadays are almost always based on pre-existing material (whether it be a comic book, television show, theme park ride, etc). Pacific Rim is an original story and I really respect the studio, and del Toro for making it. I truly hope it ends up being a success so studios see that big budget films based on original material are still successful. People are tight with their entertainment dollars, but please believe me when I say that Pacific Rim MUST be seen in theatres. It’s tremendous fun, and the visual effects are mind blowing. I loved every moment of it.