Pacific Rim (2013)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
As a kid I was a big fan of the very popular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. To my delight, Pacific Rim turned back the clock as I soaked up the tale that involved enormous monsters fighting gigantic robots controlled by humans. Now that’s what I’m talking about! At the helm is Guillermo del Toro, who is no stranger to the comic-book, sci-fi, and fantasy genre. With a blockbuster budget, del Toro has crafted a mainstream CGI-heavy film with a decent enough story to give it more depth than say, Transformers.
Which is the good and the bad about Pacific Rim. Certainly, the box office results weren’t as successful as the Transformers franchise. Sure, it’s unfair to compare the two since Pacific Rim is an original, high-budget action involving giant robots that isn’t already established like Transformers, but you get what I’m saying. There was something that just missed with the American audience (which only counted for 25% of the film’s worldwide gross), and that was the attempt to do more than needed.
But in my opinion, this makes a hell of a better film than any of the Transformers movies. In the not too distant future, huge sea-monsters called Kaijus are destroying major cities around the world. Governments combine their resources and fight back with giant war machines called Jaegers, that function when two humans’ brains are linked. Del Toro and Travis Beacham explore some mythology to give Pacific Rim the back-story and twists necessary, but the true triumph here is the digital effects that are second to none.
There are some story-lines involving the main characters that keep you engaged when the beasts aren’t destroying everything in its path. Specifically protagonist Raleigh Becket is one to sympathize with for losing his brother while working a Jaeger. But the big picture events outweigh any potential power between characters, even the romance between Becket and Mako Mori, his eventual Jaeger partner. The one who does make an impact and steals plenty of scenes is Charlie Day as Newton Geiszler, a scientist who studies the Kaijus and has crucial information on how to eliminate them for good. Day is able to play the underdog of the film, whether it’s being the person no one believes or the one we naturally expect to be the first killed. Using these obstacles to his advantage, Day is able to display vulnerability during a time of crisis very well here.
Pacific Rim feels like a video game, which is to its benefit for all the fanboys who love del Toro. And while everything wraps up too neatly at the end, it’s still great popcorn fun for those who love big and loud action-packed movies. But this leads to the question whether or not del Toro will continue down the path to over-sized, big-budget flicks, or if he’ll scale things back for his next sci-fi/fantasy adventure. I hope it’s the latter.