Reviewed by Mitchell Burns
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro Starring: Charlie Hunnam Also Starring: Ron Perlman
Rinko Kikuchi Burn Gorman
Idris Elba Robert Kazinsky
Charlie Day Max Martini
Enjoy my spoiler free review of Pacific Rim.
Pacific Rim begins with a voice over from character Raleigh, played by Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam. Raleigh explains that in 2013 an alternate dimension opened up at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and monsters called Kaiju began to spill into our world.
These Kaiju are massive, and once they enter our world they begin destroying everything in their path. In order to battle these monsters, nations from all over the world create these giant robots called Jaegers. The Jaegers are controlled by two pilots who sit in the head of the robots and literally control the Jaegers with their bodies and brains.
Raleigh (Hunnam) is a Jaeger pilot, along with his brother Yanci (Diego Klattenhoff). Together the two brothers build a career, and in a way become famous, as the two pilots of the Jaeger named Gipsy Danger.
At the beginning of the Jaeger program it seems as if humanity has found a way to combat these monsters and keep the world safe. Then, the Kaiju coming from the other world become stronger and stronger and the Jaeger program begins to fail.
With the Jaeger program on its last leg, Raleigh is called into action to help a team in Hong Kong become the last defense against these terrible Kaiju monsters. Raleigh is joined by Jaeger commander Stacker (Idris Elba), Jaeger expert Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Scientists Dr. Geiszler (Charlie Day), and Hermann Gottlieb, and the Australian Jaeger pilots, Father-son team Herc Hansen (Max Martini) and Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky).
Most of the above description happens in the first 20-30 minutes of the movie, with a run time of a little more than two hours you know this movie packs in a lot of information. That’s where my biggest issue lies, is with the characters and their stories. Director and Screenwriter, Guillermo Del Toro, wants you to care about each character he introduces so badly that he halts the action and excitement to immerse you into a world of bland and unoriginal characters.
From the moment the movie begins I was fully engaged in this world where giant monsters fight giant robots. The start of the movie, with the help of voice overs, fake news broadcasts, stellar CGI and good storytelling, convincingly shows how our world got to the point where we needed to create Giant Robots to fight Giant Kaiju. We are then treated to one awesome Jaeger and Kaiju battle in the middle of the ocean, which had the fan boy nerd in me jumping for joy.
Almost as soon as that battle ends, the movie screeches to a blaring and jolting stop. I can’t fathom how a movie can go from such amazing action to such slow character drama.
It isn’t just 20 minutes of character drama, it’s about 45 minutes of character drama.
and, on top of that, it’s BAD character drama!
The three main characters, Raleigh (Hunnam), Stacker (Elba) and Mako (Kikuchi) are the only characters that remain pretty interesting, but any other character suffers from a complete lack of imagination.
The stereotypes and movie cliche’s run rampant in this movie:
Two over the top scientist’s, one with a British accent and a cane and the other a young, careless, mad man
A son who works with his dad and suffers from daddy issues, who also gets jealous when someone threatens to steal his spotlight.
Two Russian Jager pilots, who don’t even look like real people. It’s as if someone took every Russian stereotype and put them together to create two super Russian bad asses. Oh, and there is a dog in the movie, in the middle of all this chaos and Jaeger fighting, the father of the Australian team keeps his bulldog by his side at all times.
I have to say, Mako (Kikuchi) has an interesting back story, which makes her character quite interesting. Stacker (Elba), has ties with Mako and their connection is fairly fascinating. I’m not quite sure if I like Stacker as a character, or if my admiration towards Idris Elba made me like him.
Once the movie finally picks back up again, it almost immediately revs back into action and we’re having fun again.
Pacific Rim delivers a pretty swell second half. The stakes continue to build and build, there were many times I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering how the characters could conquer and win.
The character issues may have upset me quite a bit, but in my eyes Pacific Rim succeeds on many levels. The amount of imagination in the movie is astounding; the way the Jaegers work is interesting and exciting, each Kaiju monsters design is a sight to behold, and I found each battle interesting and exciting.
Talk about world building! The world that Del Toro brings to the table, where giant monsters now roam, is very interesting! Certain cultures worship these Kaiju monsters thinking they are gods of some sort. There are all sorts of black market values for Kaiju body parts, teeth and even excrement.
On my recommendation, my Mom and Dad and two of my brothers went to see Pacific Rim and they all left unhappy. The overall consensus I got from the four of them is that it really didn’t do anything for them, they weren’t really entertained. My 21 year old brother found the fight scenes to be repetitive, and my Mom was only really interested in the characters. I can understand My mother and 21 year old brother, but my Dad and 14 year old brother not liking this movie baffles me! If I was 14 I would have ate the movie up, and I would definitely be able to forgive all the stereotypes and crappy human dialogue!
Overall, I quite enjoyed Pacific Rim. When I re watch this movie, I’ll just skip the 45 minutes in the middle and skip to the monsters fighting robots, because let’s be honest, that’s what I paid to see.
Movie Grade: B-