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Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, Diego Klattenhoff, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Mana Ashida
Synopsis: 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.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language
Arguably the most underrated film of 2013
In an age where people whine and b**** about how all of today's movies are mostly sequels, reboots and remakes, it's rare those same people will even acknowledge some of the original movies that have come out as well. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everyone is like this, but it does seem like the census majority of the movie going audience feels this way.
Unfortunately, most of the original films that aren't remakes, reboots or sequels happen to be mostly independent movies that people generally don't even watch or care about. Granted, if you're as big of a movie fan as I am, then you'll still love watching an indie film as much as the next fan out there. However, most moviegoing audiences can only see a few films a year, and those indie films don't often get the marketing push that big budget franchises demand.
And, then there's little movies like "Pacific Rim." This film wasn't an indie film by any stretch of the imagination, but the marketing behind it wasn't that great either. If anything, this was a big budget film that not only had an original story to tell, but it also had all the elements to become a potential new franchise. What happened? Well Warner Bros. didn't market it well, and it didn't do well at the box office. It's certainly not Guillermo del Toro's fault, as he can't help it if the film was marketed poorly. However, it does make "Pacific Rim" arguably one of the most underrated films of this year.
The film essentially takes place in the future, where giant monsters known as the Kaiji invade the earth on a regular basis. Their origins are a bit vague, but they come from another dimension. Invading our world through a wormhole that exists deep within the Pacific Ocean. To combat this threat, humanity has invented giant mechanized robots called Jaegers to fight back.
The only problem is that piloting one these Jaegers is dangerous on a person's body over time, as their mind can't handle it. However, this is why each Jaeger requires the use of two pilots instead of one. In the Jaeger, the two pilots must mind link to each other in order to make it work, and then act as one to control its movements. Sadly, this is easier said than done. If one or both pilots fail at the neural link, then the results could be very dangerous to everyone involved. But if they can succeed, then they're treated like rock stars to the entire world.
At first, the Jaeger program seems to be running smoothly, but the Kaiji start to get stronger. Starting off with mere class two and class three level Kaijis that Jaegers could defeat in combat easily with the right stuff, but these class four Kaiji proved to be far more difficult. All leading up to a final showdown to save the world from annihilation.
Although on the surface, this looks like another "Transformers" style movie mixed in with Kaiji monster battles reminiscent of the old Godzilla movies. However, there's more to "Pacific Rim" than that. Behind all the flash, there's a story there that tries to be deep and potent.
You have a young hot shot protagonist, who loses his brother to the Kaiji. Needless to say, this leads to a lot of drama, and interesting character development. Although Charlie Hunnam's character comes off as reckless at times, but he also shows signs of great resourcefulness as well. Almost reminiscent of Captain James T. Kirk from the "Star Trek" series.
As for his co pilot played by the lovely Asian actress Rinko Kikuchi, she's not bad in her part either. Although it's fairly obvious her character does have sort of a thing for the main protagonist, the film never focuses on that possible romantic aspect. Heck, they don't even kiss each other at all, which is rather shocking to me to say the least. With the way the movie sets it up, you'd swear they'd end up locking lips while saying how much they loved each other, by the end of this flick. However, it never shifts to that, and to be honest, I'm glad it didn't. Too many movies often go this route whenever they portray a man and woman becoming very close, and sharing a bond. A kindred spirit if you will.
It almost seems like whenever something like that happens, it then becomes almost a forgone conclusion that they'll end up a couple eventually. However, I applaud Guillermo del Toro for not vying for that route, as that would've been way too cliched and predictable.
Don't get me wrong, that's not to say there aren't any problems with this film, as "Pacific Rim" still suffers from having too many one dimensional characters, while still following the same old generic Hollywood cliches that I'm sure movie fans have seen over a million times before. You have a reckless hero seeking redemption. You have a shy book smart girl that finds herself drawn to the reckless street smart guy. You have a character with father issues, who's a douchebag for no other reason than just to be a douchebag. You have two nerdy scientists, who serve as the comic relief. You have a no nonsense military general running the show. And to top it all off, you have some big speech to inspire everyone before the final climax begins in epic Hollywood fashion. As I said before, it would be so easy to judge this movie as just another lousy CGI money grab in ilk of "Transformers" when looking at the mere surface of the film.
However, Guillermo del Toro's world of Kaiji battling Jaegers is so entertaining, while displaying a story that's surprisingly deeper than the trailers will have you believe, that you can't help but find yourself immersed into the story.
It's been said that Guillermo del Toro wanted "Pacific Rim" to be sort of a homage to classic Kaiji monster films, and he's certainly done a great job of that here. However, it seems that he might've drawn inspiration from Mecha Anime as well. For readers that might not be familiar with that sub genre of Japanese Anime, it's essentially anime that features characters fighting inside giant mechanized robots such as "Gundam Wing", "Robotech", "Code Geass", "Voltron" and etc.
As for the acting, I thought everyone played their parts rather well. Granted, none of them were great, but fairly decent for the parts they were required to play with the exception of Idris Elba, who somehow managed to bring the movie to a whole other level. If anything, I wished the film focused more on his character instead, as Idris almost steals every scene that he's featured in. As for Ron Perlman, he plays a great hustler like nobody's business. If anything, I just wished he had gotten a bigger role in this flick as well.
Of course, the special effects are nothing to laugh about either, as I'll be very surprised if any other film out there features better visuals than "Pacific Rim" this year. If anything, "Pacific Rim" deserves at least a nomination in 2014, for it's visual effects. If it doesn't, then that'll be almost as big of a snub as when the Academy failed to nominate Ben Affleck for "Best Director" this year.
The cinematography was great as well, and it's worth every penny to see in IMAX 3-D if you can afford it, or even regular 3-D. Although the movie was said to be over two hours long, it felt more like ninety minutes, so the editing wasn't half bad either.
Overall, if you haven't seen "Pacific Rim", then go check it out. On the surface, the film may seem like another stereotypical Hollywood blockbuster with all flash but no substance, but it has a lot of heart and depth to it that'll keep you invested into it's story from beginning to end. Definitely worth checking out at a rating of three out of four.