Review: Pacific Rim
Director/Writer Guillermo Del Toro is known for creating big movies with amazing visual effects, but he has never gone this big. Pacific Rim is the showcase for the Del Toro's child inside to come out and pay tribute to all of the anime or television shows that we all have watched when we were younger. Before seeing the movie I joked that the film was Power Rangers vs Godzilla monsters, and essentially more or less that is exactly what it was. It is an ambitious movie that is surprisingly entertaining despite some of it's bigger flaws thanks in large part to the shear amount of care and heart that Del Toro put into the film. It is fun, it is loud just the way that you want your summer blockbuster movies to be.
The plot follows Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) who is a cocky Jaeger pilot. Jaeger is the name of the gigantic robots that the humans had created to help defend the Earth against the monstrosities that had invaded Earth through a portal deep below the sea. The monsters are known as Kaiju and are divided up by category, which in large part the categories just tell you how big the monster as they really have no idea how else to describe the monsters. In order to fight monsters, mankind decided to fight back with monsters of their own and created Jaegers. Jaeger pilots essentially go on to become that of rockstars. In order to pilot a Jaeger, there has to be two pilots as the pilots have to "drift" with the Jaeger and each other. Drifting is when the three essentially share one brain and act in harmony of each other. It is a dangerous process and the two pilots have to be drift compatible otherwise they will not work well in combat scenarios. Raleigh's co-pilot was that of his older brother. The two get a mission early in the morning to fight a low category Kaiju which makes Raleigh excited. On the battlefield, the Kaiju is some how stronger then they expected and seems to have adapted to the strategies of the Jaeger. In the battle, Raleigh's brother is killed forcing Raleigh to pilot the Jaeger on his own and kill the Kaiju. He does so successfully and manages to pilot the Jaeger to safety having been severely wounded. Fast forward a few years later and we find Raleigh struggling to find work protecting cities from Kaiju attacks by building "Walls of Life" to keep them out. Stacker Pentacost (Idris Elba), the commander of the Jaeger forces, seeks out Raleigh in an attempt to recruit for a last ditch effort to eliminate the Kaiju once and for all having limited Jaegers remaining as the Kaiju have become increasingly more difficult to handle.
Raleigh is hesitant at first due to the fact that when his brother was killed the two were still connected, leaving Raleigh devastated. Pentacost still finds a way to convince Raleigh to once again pilot a Jaeger, and when the two arrive in Hong Kong at the Shatterdome, the home of the remaining Jaegers, the two search for his next co-pilot. Raleigh fights potential candidates to see if they are compatible but he bests every single one with little effort. However, Pentacost's friend Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) mocks him at every turn as she feels that he could defeat his opponents a few moves earlier. Raleigh then pushes to have Mako challenge him, against Pentacost's wishes the two fight and are clearly compatible with each other. Pentacost however refuses to allow Mako enter a Jaeger as she has a damaged past. Raleigh pleads with him to let them drop the past because if they do not, it is clear that they will not have a future to look forward too.
This film works in large part due to Del Toro's vision and the serviceable acting ability of Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. The two are both intense actors, and that serves well in this kind of story. The action scenes were very enjoyable as were the comedic scenes featuring Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Charlie Day essentially plays a "Kaiju groupie" as he is a scientist obsessed with finding out more about the Kaiju and Perlman plays a black market dealer of anything Kaiju related. The one actor that seemed out of place was that of Kikuchi. She had little to no chemistry with Hunnam and rarely displayed any kind of emotion in her scenes. Her scenes largely fell flat through out the film, but it did little to detract from the overall film. Personally, I would have loved to see more of the other Jaeger's in battle then just Raleigh's Jaeger. Overall, it was a very enjoyable movie albeit on certain points you essentially have to accept that the film has plot holes making it a typical summer blockbuster film.